NYT/AP reports,

Suspended Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett sued the NFL on Tuesday, asking a judge to throw out a league rule preventing players from entering the draft until they have been out of high school for three years.

Clarett, who rushed for 1,237 yards and led Ohio State to a national championship as a freshman last season, is not eligible for the draft until 2005 under current rules.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, claims the NFL rule violates antitrust law and harms competition by excluding players who are shy of the three-year requirement.

“The rule is a restraint of amateur athletes who were strangers to the collective bargaining process,” the suit says.

One would think his case is strong. Of course, the entire NFL draft is a violation of restraint of trade, since those who are draft eligible are also not represented by collective bargaining.

Cross-posted at SportsBlog.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Chris says:

    I gotta go with TMQ’s take on this one.

    There is much more from him on this here. But this is the important paragraph:

    If the NFL starts bringing in teenagers, what will happen is exactly what’s happened to pro basketball. Quality of play — by far the most important aspect of NFL popularity — will spiral downward. Immature kids will boast and strut for the cameras but refuse to listen to coaches, turning off the paying customers who earn far less than the boasting kids. Experienced veterans who know what they’re doing will be thrown overboard for sulking teenagers who end up busts, accelerating the decline in quality of play. Since football requires more cooperation than any sport, and teenagers are by nature uncooperative, fumbles, interceptions and blown plays will increase until every team looks like the Arizona Cardinals. The goose who lays the golden eggs will be tossed into the Crock Pot.

  2. James Joyner says:


    For one thing, I’d argue that it’s not Clarett’s responsibility to save the NFL from doom–nor is that a reasonable basis for the law. Plus, I think that, unlike the NBA, the owners will refrain from drafting the kids in the early rounds because the risk is so great.