Jewish World Review Sept. 30, 2003 / 4 Tishrei, 5764
A star Ohio State running back is suing to become eligible for the NFL draft
Maurice Clarett was suspended by Ohio State for receiving improper benefits and lying to NCAA investigators. And so now, rather than sit it out, Clarett wants to enter the NFL draft. The problem-the NFK bylaws require that a candidate be out of high school for three years. He's only 19.
Now, his lawyer is challenging that provision in court. There are two questions here. Number one, will he win his lawsuit and number two, does this NFL policy make sense?
Answer one-I can't imagine that a court is going to require the NFL to admit younger players into the draft. They're making antitrust arguments, which seem weak to me, so in all likelihood, Clarett will have to wait it out.
But with that said, this policy doesn't make a lot of sense. I understand it. Younger players may not be ready for the NFL. They may more easily injure themselves. The NFL is far more physical than other major pro sports. But that's a reason for teams to avoid drafting them and for the players to avoid jumping in too early.
But, we can allow 18-year-olds to decide to join the armed forces, but not the NFL? It's just too paternalistic. Some 19-year-olds will undoubtedly be more fit for the NFL than some drafted 21-year-olds. Sure, we have random age cutoffs for many things, but in a country like this, I find this unnecessary.
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