Say it ain’t so, MoClo.

Let me put this on the table right away: I am a fan of the Michigan Wolverines. They’ve been since the first game I can remember: the 1977 Rose Bowl, during which a seven-year-old version of myself clearly fell in love with the color scheme of corn and Michigan blue, and those funny earmuffs on their helmets. Regardless, the Wolverines lost that game (14-6, to USC) and have been regularly breaking my heart ever since. But even I, who don’t like Ohio State like Daisy Duke doesn’t like long pants, wouldn’t wish this on Maurice Clarett.

The former Buckeye star, who led his team to an improbable and stirring national championship in 2002 as a freshman, did an interview with an ESPN reporter via cellphone last Tuesday. She talked about how happy he was to have just become a father, how he didn’t care so much about money, how he had gained a lot of maturity from the experience. About two hours later, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Clarett began driving his SUV erratically, police officers noticed and gave chase, with Clarett refusing to stop. The police had to puncture his tires to get him to stop, so Clarett tried to escape on foot. The officers shot him with a stun gun, but Clarett was wearing a bulletproof vest and kept moving. Eventually, the cops used Mace against him to get him to pull over and found four loaded weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle, in the car, as well as a half-finished bottle of vodka. He will remain in jail for at least the weekend and is in grave danger of going to jail thereafter.

Now, the child clearly has mental and/or emotional problems, which is not funny. What’s funny, though, is the fact that Clarett is the guy who challenged for the NFL Draft and could have potentially changed the face of football, Curt Flood-style. Had Clarett’s lawsuit been successful, freshmen or high school players would have been eligible for the NFL Draft, college football would have been more like college basketball (where players typically play a single season before turning pro), and selecting an NFL “prospect” would have become a more speculative process than ever (much like the NBA, where young players sit on the bench for three years). And all of this would have been for a guy who was so ready to blow up that Robert Downey Jr. worries about Clarett’s stability.


With football just around the corner, I want to start asking questions about the NFL. Can you give me one true sleeper from each conference (say, someone who didn’t make the playoffs last year) that you think has a legitimate shot at making the Super Bowl? Bookies, You’ve got to love what’s happening in Arizona with the Edge pick-up adding to an already promising offense. If Leinart can sign a deal and provide Warner with backup, we could see Arizona fighting for a wild card in the NFC. I say wild card because it’s unlikely anyone will beat Seattle for the NFC West title. A couple of other legitimate teams are Dallas and San Diego. Both teams just missed the playoffs at 9-7 and have made some key additions in the offseason. No one can stop talking about Philip Rivers and the training camp he’s had, while Parcells may be the only coach who can keep TO in check to do what he does best. Plus, when you pay Roy Williams that much, you better have a playoff run.

Who do you think has the biggest impact in his rookie year: Vince Young, Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler? Because?

BB, So far it looks like Young will have the biggest impact this year. Leinart was a potential contender, but now even Dennis Green is talking trash about the USC star and his failure to sign a deal. I also don’t see Cutler getting much playing time in Denver with Jake the Snake leading the way.

Which AFC stalwart team is most likely to disappoint in 2006: New England, Pittsburgh or Denver? Because?

BB, Indy will remain the most disappointing team in the AFC unless it makes it to the Super Bowl this year. This team dominated the AFC last year and was hitting the links after opening their Christmas presents. At least Peyton has his acting career to fall back on!

Which perennial NFC doormat makes the best run at .500 or higher, Arizona, Detroit, San Francisco or New Orleans? Because?

BB, Shingles, shingles, shingles! These guys have the best chance to break .500. Did you say San Francisco? The candle won’t light on Candlestick for at least another couple of years. Anyone who has Alex Smith in their goalkeeping league likes to plan a decade in advance.

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