NFL via Getty Images
DENVER - 2005: Maurice Clarett of the Denver Broncos poses for his 2005 NFL headshot at photo day in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Getty Images)
Hey, remember Maurice Clarett? The big Ohio State superstar who tried to come out early for the draft, sued the NFL, lost, got drafted a year later, got cut because of a rotten attitude, then was thrown in jail after police found vodka and a katana in his car? You know, THAT Maurice Clarett.
Well, he’s back! Free from jail (but legally unable to leave the state of Ohio – a punishment worse than jail itself), Clarett recently asked a judge to let him try out with the Omaha Nighthawks, an expansion team in Mark Cuban’s UFL that recently signed Jeff Garcia as their starting QB.
And, being the savvy folks that they are, the Nighthawks have issued a statement of support for Clarett’s attempt. Via Florio at PFT:
"Maurice Clarett has paid his debt to society and through recent conversations with Maurice, his lawyer and his family, we believe he is sincerely working at turning his life around," Nighthawks G.M. Rick Mueller said. "Because we believe everyone deserves a second chance, and because Maurice wants to see whether he can still play the game he loves, we've agreed to work Maurice out as soon as the Ohio courts allow."
In case you think Maurice Clarett is some kind of lost cause the way Lawrence Phillips once was, I hereby direct you to the blog Clarett wrote while in prison, a diary of personal regret and introspection that’s awfully hard to ignore once you read it. Clarett will turn 27 this October. Just 27 years old. Feels like he’s been around much longer than that, doesn’t it?
I don’t know why anyone would begrudge Clarett his second chance if the judge sees fit to let him try out with Omaha. He seems to deeply understand the damage he’s done to himself and his loved ones since going to jail, and he seems determined to make up for it.
The question is if Clarett is physically anywhere near what he was once was as an athlete. If he is, and if he’s gotten his life together, then perhaps his stint in the UFL will be a success, and maybe he’ll even find a way back to the NFL. And that would be quite a story for a guy who was discarded by virtually everyone a very, very long time ago.