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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Maurice Clarett is a Tragedy

Maurice Clarett Arrested

by Walter Anaruk
Field Position

The situation surrounding former Denver Broncos and Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett is a mystery. Clarett led police in Columbus, Ohio on a chase that ended in a restaurant parking lot. Four loaded guns, including an assault rifle, and half a bottle of vodka were found in the front of the vehicle Clarett was driving. A sobriety test was not administered because officers had no indication that Clarett was intoxicated.

Police attempted pull Clarett over for an illegal U-turn. Clarett did not pull over and led police onto eastbound Interstate 70. He then accelerated across the median and turned westbound where he drove over a spike strip placed by police.

When Clarett came to a stop, police stated that he refused orders to get out of the vehicle. According to police reports, Clarett struggled against police when they attempted to remove him from the vehicle. Tasers were ineffective because Clarett was wearing a bullet-resistant vest. So police used mace to subdue Clarett who continued to fight officers until he was handcuffed in the paddy wagon.

ESPN the Magazine's Tom Friend reportedly was called by Clarett just hours before his arrest. Friend describes Clarett's disposition as melancholy and stated in an ESPN news segment that it almost felt as if Clarett were saying his good byes. Friend said that Clarett called him to thank him for making Clarett "see reality." Friend had Friend also said that Clarett claimed to be calling others such as his college coach Jim Tressell and childhood friend LeBron James. Several times during his appearance on ESPN, Friend alluded to the possibility that Clarett was either suicidal or felt his life was in danger.

Besides the well publicized football follies and the recent charges of assault and armed robbery, Clarett had a life frought with problems. After he left Ohio State and was denied entry into the NFL Draft, Clarett accepted the sponsorship of several managers in the rap music industry. He lived in a plush home on Malibu beach and trained in celebrity health spas, and drove around in expensive automobiles. His benefactors believed that Clarett would be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft and would repay them when he earned his millions.

In 2005, Clarett entered the draft. But he was not in good shape. He had shunned the assistance of professional trainers preferring the celebrity lifestyle he had grown accustomed to. Additionally his massive insecurities and paranoia made him afraid to work out where people might recognize and judge him. His lack of training resulted in a slow 40 yard dash. His slow time combined with his obvious lack of conditioning made his selection by the Denver Broncos in the third round, a tremendous suprise.

Instead of taking the guarateed $416,000 signing bonus and minimum contract that his agents pleaded with him to sign, Clarett opted for no guaranteed money. He wanted an incentive laden contract that would pay him millions for 1000 plus yard seasons, he wanted bonuses for making the Pro Bowl. The Broncos were only too happy to sign. And when he spent the first three weeks of training camp nursing a sore leg, the Broncos cut him with no financial reprocussions. Clarett never even appeared in an NFL preseason game. He had no money because he had removed all of his guarantees. He owed a lot of people a lot of money.

What was he doing with three loaded hand guns, a loaded assault rifle, wearing a bulletproof vest that early morning? No one knows. He had just recently become a father and told Friend in their midnight phone call that he would do anything for his baby daughter - even spend 30 years in jail. Friend thought it was an odd example at the time. Obviously Clarett felt his life and the life of his daughter might be threatened. Could be his paranoia. It could be that he owed a lot of money to some of the wrong people. The story will unfold as days go on. But not since University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias died in 1986 or possibly the story of boxer Mike Tyson in the late 90s has such a tragic tale of fallen grace been witnessed.


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