Most of us remember the great on-field play of Maurice Clarett at The Ohio State University. Clarett was arguably the greatest or second-greatest running back in the history of the school, breaking freshman records set by Archie Griffin (the only player to win the Heisman trophy twice). If Clarett's career had not been shortened, some believe that Clarett could have been just as amazing as Griffin's.
Clarett led the Buckeyes to a 14-0 record and a national championship. He scored the team's only touchdown against the previously "unbeatable" Miami Hurricanes.
Clarett saw his amazing career come to an abrupt end when he was sent to prison for three years on charges of aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon. After doing his time in prison, Clarett announced plans to return to Ohio State to pursue his college degree.
"This is a surreal feeling to be back at Ohio State in such a supportive environment," Clarett said in a statement. "I have looked forward to being back in school, and I'm doing my best to fit in with other students. I don't want to be a distraction or nuisance to the football team or to students on campus."
Many of us can agree that Maurice Clarett was a man with a little too much arrogance and a tremendous capacity to make bad decisions. At the same time, Clarett might likely be a genius in disguise who simply doesn't play by anyone else's rules. He filed a lawsuit against the NFL for the right to enter the draft in spite of not being three years out of high school. Clarett's decision to file suit was a good one, since we know that the NFL's rules are unjust and racist. Other sports that consist of athletes who are not black (tennis, golf, hockey, baseball) have no such rules in place to keep athletes from making a living for their families. Clarett was right to demand his labor rights.
Another area where Clarett showed promise is when he openly confronted Ohio State for the fact that they earn millions on the backs of players, yet refused to help him pay for a plane ticket to go to the funeral of one of his friends. Clarett was on the money with his argument, since Ohio State is a football sausage factory, serving up beefy black athletes for the American public's consumption. They fill their coffers with millions of dollars each year, and when athletes like Clarett speak out, they spit the athlete out and find another brother from the projects to fill his place.
Call me crazy, but I believe in Maurice Clarett. I think that once he finds a productive channel for his energy, he will be a source of enlightenment for other young black male athletes. Additionally, I would not be surprised if Clarett has plans to try out again for the NFL. He's only 26-years old and has the kind of talent that you never forget. If he can learn to take good advice and use his strong spirit for the good of his fellow athletes, he can be one of the single greatest forces in the history of The Ohio State University (which happens to be my alma mater).