Interesting: Judge Says Clarett Can Be in NFL Draft

A federal judge today ordered the National Football League to allow former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett to enter the draft in April.

In a 70-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin said the league’s draft eligibility rule, which prohibits a player from entering the draft until three years after high school, violates anti-trust laws.

The NFL has vigorously defended the rule, hoping to avoid the sort of infusion of young players into the league that has created problems for the NBA, and almost certainly will appeal the ruling. Gene Upshaw, the head of the NFL Players Association, said repeatedly that he was against Clarett being allowed to enter the draft.

Good. I don’t have any background in labor law, so don’t know what impact the fact that the NFL and the Players’ Association have agreed to the exclusion has, but it seems fundamentally unfair to exclude an adult for a rather arbitrary reason.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
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. Paul says:

    Bad Idea- Maybe the legal case supports it but it is still a bad idea. The NFL is no place for kids.

    Horrible idea in fact…

    Most people have no perception of how physical the NFL is. If teenagers enter the NFL, it is no exaggeration to say that some of them will be killed. This ain’t baseball.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Yeah–but the market should take care of that. Teams won’t draft kids that aren’t ready. Certainly not for long.

  3. Kate says:

    Isn’t it true though that there are more high school football players killed each year in the US on the field, than are in school shootings?

    And how many would go right from the high school field into the starting lineup?

  4. Under a free market private businesses should be able to make the rules as to who can and can’t be employed. Hypothetically, I may be one heck of a salesman, but a bookstore doesn’t have to hire me because I admit to them I’m illiterate.

    You can’t use the monopoly argument because Clarett could see if the CFL, Arena Football League, or some semi-pro league would take him.

  5. James Joyner says:

    But the NFL isn’t an employer, it’s a cartel. As long as no collusion is involved, there’s nothing to prevent, say, the New England Patriots to decide they’ll only draft those over 21. But it’s virtually certain that, given the opportunity, an NFL team would take Clarett in the 1st or 2nd round.