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What really happened to Clarett


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What really happened to Clarett

By Tom Friend, ESPN The Magazine

Tom Friend Archive

 

In another example of how five seconds can definitively change your life, we present you with Maurice Clarett.

 

He ran/jogged a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine -- live on national TV, no less -- and now he's a mystery all over again. Everyone is taking shots at Clarett. Some media members actually sat in the press room Saturday laughing out loud at his expense. One NFC scout said he could've run better than Clarett.

 

But that wasn't the worst of it. After Clarett ran a 4.72 in his second attempt -- and decided, out of frustration, to blow off the rest of the drills -- many teams wrote him off completely. They said if he quits at a combine, he'll quit in a fourth quarter somewhere. That's how a lot of NFL people think, and probably nothing can change their minds ... not even the whole story.

 

But someone -- maybe an Arizona, maybe an Oakland -- will try to find out what really happened to Maurice Clarett at the combine and over the last 12 months. And maybe then they'll get off his back.

 

 

Let's go back a year, to the 2004 combine. Clarett, who at the time was eligible for the draft, noticed how the scouts, during the weigh-in, were salivating over Greg Jones of Florida State. Jones was chiseled, looking like an Adonis, and a flabby Clarett made a mental note right then that it should've been him.

 

Later, after the courts had removed him from the 2004 draft, his mind kept drifting back to Jones. If he was going to repeat the process, and parade again in front of NFL scouts in his underwear, he was going to be buff. In fact, he said he was going to look better than Jones. He was going to look like David Boston.

 

In retrospect, it was a mistake. Boston, the sculpted Miami Dolphins wide receiver, has tried in the past to play at 250-plus pounds, and has experienced knee problems as a result. Clarett ended up following a similar training and eating regimen and, while he appeared rock solid, his body mass had increased too much. His work ethic was commendable and his body fat was plummeting, but his weight was exorbitant and there had to be some doubt about what it would do to his speed.

 

Eventually, by late January, he was ready to choose his agents. And in concert with his attorney, David Kenner, he settled on Steve Feldman, who represents Corey Dillon and Rodney Harrison of the world champion New England Patriots. Feldman and his associate, Josh Luchs, explained to Clarett that he had to get his weight down, preferably in the 220s, and Kenner -- Clarett's most trusted confidant -- agreed with them.

 

By this time, Clarett did not have a permanent trainer, so on his own he began working 16-hour days in Los Angeles to get trimmer and leaner. No one knows how heavy he'd been at his apex -- although it's conceivable he'd been around 250 pounds at one point -- but it was through tireless work that he showed up in Indianapolis at 234.

 

The problem was, his body might have been sapped from losing a lot of weight in a short period of time. And he was also way too nervous, skittish that his entire future was coming down to a three-day period in Indianapolis. He actually ended up flying into Indy two days ahead of the combine, afraid that he couldn't get a proper workout in rain-infested Southern California. That's how intent he was about performing well; he was borderline neurotic about it.

 

The first two days of the combine seemed to ease his fears a little. His press conference, his first public appearance in a year, was an unequivocal success. He never bashed his former school, Ohio State, and he explained that he'd do every drill the NFL people asked him to do, that he was willing to play special teams next season or be third string. His interviews with teams went smoothly as well, because he was forthright and humble.

 

A year before, when a few teams asked about his family, he snapped, "What does my family have to do with anything? I'm here to play football." He'd been confrontational, a loner, but this time he was one of the pack. Players wanted to eat meals with him, were following him around, were asking him questions about the combine.

 

After he did 22 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press -- one of the best numbers put up by a running back -- most teams were beginning to perceive him as a first-day draft pick. They liked that his body fat was down from almost 17 percent last year to 11.4 percent this year.

 

But every night, late at night, he'd still get back on the hotel treadmill. He was worried about the 40, knew he had to deliver in the 40.

 

The pressure had to be getting to him. No one was more scrutinized that week than him, and on the day before the 40-yard dashes, he took off during his lunch break and ran wind sprints on an outdoor track in 30-degree weather.

 

Even that night, 14 hours before his 40-yard dash, he was back on the hotel treadmill, running, thinking, analyzing.

 

The next day, of course, was a disaster. He's never been a speedster anyway, but his 40s lacked explosion. He looked spent, defeated. The worst thing he could've done was quit, but that's what he did, on a whim, overwhelmed by the embarrassment of it all. Last year, completely out of shape, he had run a 4.6. This year, in shape, he'd run a 4.8.

 

His closest confidants felt he'd over-trained, but the spin had already been spun by then. Word traveled fast. NFL people said he was a bust, that he might not get drafted. It broke his heart, and in a post-40 interview with The NFL Network, which no one in their right mind would have expected him to do, he was inconsolable and took full responsibility for his collapse.

 

Where does he go from here? He's back in L.A., and he's headed back to the gym, back to a trainer who specializes in speed and fast muscle twitch. He said he will work out at Ohio State's Pro Day, on March 8, but this is news to Ohio State, where he is essentially on a black list.

 

Either way, he will run again, at a weight better suited for the 40, and his hope is that some team, any team will bring a stopwatch.

 

Because all it takes is one.

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Interesting read. I didn't know he'd so re-dedicated himself over the last year and that his attitude was much improved.

 

I don't think he goes undrafted. Some team will definitely spend a 6th round pick on him. And if he does, he'll have teams knocking down his door as a free agent - which might almost be a better situation for him than as a late round pick.

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Interesting read. I didn't know he'd so re-dedicated himself over the last year and that his attitude was much improved.

 

I don't think he goes undrafted. Some team will definitely spend a 6th round pick on him. And if he does, he'll have teams knocking down his door as a free agent - which might almost be a better situation for him than as a late round pick.

 

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He seems bound and determined to do everything the hard way, and its working out that way now, whether its his "fault" or not. He' ll get drafted late, have to work his way up to the starting RB somewhere, and eventually get his due and $$, maybe a few years from now. Maybe someday they'll make a movie about his incredible life story, but I wouldn't bet on it....

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I see him as getting drafted & then having an injury plagued, short-lived NFL career. Nothing to do with his attitude, everything to do with his body. I think he'll try his ***est to make a team & them work his ass off to try to impress & end up getting himself hurt in the process before he can make any kind of real splash.

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OK, maybe I'm in a bad mood today or something, but  Clarett = :bawling:

 

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Exactly.

 

Let's not forget that this guy has repeatedly made the wrong choices.

 

In college and since college.

 

And while being chiseled is important in terms of impressing a scout what RB doesn't know his 40 time is all that really matters at the combine?

 

While Maurice was working so hard did he not once run a 40?

 

He needs to take accountability for his actions and his life.

 

It's not Ohio States fault, its not the NFL's fault, it's not Greg Jones fault, it's not the judicial system's fault, Maurice Clarett is where he is today because of the choices that Maurice Clarett has made throughout his life.

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This is just spin from Clarett's camp. Does anybody really buy this crapola?

 

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Not me. IMHO, he was an overrated RB coming out of an overrated school in an overrated conference.

 

If he had been playing for Florida or LSU he would have never been on the field as a freshman. He looked good in the Big Ten because they play big, slow football -- ala Ron Dayne.

 

He would never make it in the SEC, or the NFL for that matter.

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I think the big deal about Clarett is simply that he tried to challenge the slave trade the NCAA and the NFL have set up.

 

His agent has enough clout to get him a job, but he won't get drafted, and he's going to have to dazzle to get a roster spot. The NFL wants to punish this guy to make sure that anyone else who wants to challenge them understands the consequences.

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My question is if he was so dedicated to making a good impression at the combine, why in the world wouldn't he have had a trainer who specializes in speed and fast muscle twitch to begin with?

 

And working out 16 hours a day to be in good shape? I'd have to question his workout regime...seems like he could be more effective in a shorter workout day. I also didn't know about his renewed attitude, work ethic but the quitter in him reared its ugly head again.

 

Idiot.

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Not me. IMHO, he was an overrated RB coming out of an overrated school in an overrated conference.

 

If he had been playing for Florida or LSU he would have never been on the field as a freshman. He looked good in the Big Ten because they play big, slow football -- ala Ron Dayne.

 

He would never make it in the SEC, or the NFL for that matter.

 

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Are u kidding Me! Look I think Clarett is a moron, but overrated school and conference. Ohio State recruits nationally, just like all the Big boys in college football. Alot of people were claiming USC was overrated this past year because of there conference, and smoked the Sooners. Dont start that debate. To many people still havent caught up to the times, I may agree in the past the BIg ten was a smash mouth conference, but that my friend no longer can be said.

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