Maurice Clarett is poised for a comeback? There’s gotta be a twist, right? Well, of course there is…
His name has the ability to conjure many images — and for some, extreme emotions. The one-time freshman phenomenon running back who led Ohio State University to a 2003 BCS National Championship experienced one of the hardest falls from sporting grace in recent memory.
In truth, there was probably too much grace. So much grace that it became a system of habitually enabling a student-athlete to do things he shouldn’t be doing, the least of which was receiving illegal benefits under NCAA rules. Ultimately, Clarett went from a platinum prospect to a pariah with the snap of a few fingers. The media was on him like wet blanket. This seemed to encourage him to fight harder and to travel further down a path toward more mistakes.
Eventually, people told him all the right things to say and he started to say them. It was good enough for the media, analysts and NFL brass. It presented Clarett with an opportunity to realize his dream of playing professional football. A dream that ended before it ever really began.
His short stint in the NFL consisted of a what former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan considered a “mistake,” when the Broncos used a third-round pick on the rookie (based on his sheer potential). Clarett can’t even really be considered a bust, because he never played — not one down, not even in the pre-season. The Broncos cut him and the downward spiral continued. Eventually, Clarett was arrested for a rash of violent crime and drug charges.
Now, Clarett is prepping for another comeback, but not where you think. Nah, he’s not interested in playing for some backyard arena team, and he’s not interested in playing in Canada. He has found a love for the game from which American Football was derived: rugby. For Clarett, the sky is the limit.
According to his rugby coaches, he is way ahead of the curve for athletes who transition from other sports. Could it be an opportunity for Clarett to once again compete against the world’s elite? Could he play in international competition as prestigious as the Olympics? Only time will tell. Regardless, here’s hoping that Clarett has realized that being great means being consistent.