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Published: Tuesday, 3/1/2005

Clarett fumbles second chance to impress scouts

Maurice Clarett got a rare second chance to impress NFL executives at the league's annual scouting combine.

He fumbled.

Again.

Is anyone surprised?

Not me.

No matter what Clarett or his agent say, the former Ohio State star tailback is not new and improved.

The troubled Maurice Clarett, who hasn't played in over two years, appears destined to be a late-round selection in the April draft. The troubled Maurice Clarett, who hasn't played in over two years, appears destined to be a late-round selection in the April draft.
DARRON CUMMINGS / AP Enlarge

Instead, he remains cocky and defiant.

Rarely has a player done so little, yet caused such commotion.

Clarett has proved over and over that he is a quitter. He rarely finishes anything that he starts.

Perhaps Clarett's new nickname will be "Slow Mo" after he turned in unofficial times of 4.72 and 4.82 in the 40-yard dash on Saturday in Indianapolis.

You could almost hear the champagne corks pop in Columbus when Clarett "crawled" to the finish line.

He has never been considered a speed-burner, but nobody thought Clarett was this slow.

Not him. Not the NFL scouts. Not the personnel directors. Not the general managers.

By comparison, California running back J.J. Arrington ran a 4.46, and Auburn's Ronnie Brown a 4.48. Heck, even Nebraska offensive lineman Richie Incognito - a 6-3, 300-pound hulkster - turned in a 4.90 clocking.

After flopping in the 40, the pudgy Clarett (6-0, 234) shut it down for the rest of the weekend, although he had promised beforehand that he would complete his entire audition.

He told the NFL Network his shoddy workout was a "rough one" and "I totally busted," but Clarett was not made available to the media afterward.

That's OK.

Clarett, who angered NFL executives a year ago when he refused to work out at the combine after showing up looking like William "The Refrigerator" Perry, didn't need to say a word.

It is pretty obvious that his poor times, as well as his sullied reputation, have cost him millions of dollars in the upcoming NFL draft.

He won't go in the first round or the second round. There will be no $5 million signing bonus. There will be no four-year contract.

Barring a miraculous recovery in his private workout for NFL scouts a week from today in Columbus, the troubled Clarett appears destined to be a late-round selection in the April draft.

He is expected to plummet all the way to the sixth or seventh round.

His stock is dropping faster than Enron's did.

NFL scouts and GMs aren't blown away by Clarett's skills, his dependability or his work ethic.

Why should they be?

He lugs around more baggage than Northwest Airlines. He's taken more handouts than hand-offs the last three years.

And with the way his cloudy career is spiraling out of control,

it s possible that Clarett may have earned more money

in his one season at Ohio State than he will in the NFL.

That being said, some team will take a chance on him.

After all, the NFL is a league that employs steroid abusers,

domestic violence offenders and guys with rap sheets longer

than the runway at Toledo Express Airport.

Clarett has never been charged with any heinous crimes, despite his questionable character. And, once upon a time, he was a pretty darn good football player.

The problem is, Clarett hasn t played a down in more than

two years.

He scored the winning touchdown on a five-yard run in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan.

3, 2003 as the Buckeyes beat Miami (Fla.) in double-overtime

to win their fi rst national championship in 34 years.

There has been no encore since then for Clarett.

Only controversy.

He was suspended for his sophomore season after facing a number of NCAA violations for possible academic fraud and receiving improper benefits. He also lied to NCAA investigators.

Clarett eventually left school and sought an unprecedented

early entry into the NFL by filing a lawsuit. He was rebuffed

by an appellate court, and was forced to spend a second season

on the sideline.

In the meantime, he told ESPN The Magazine that Ohio State boosters took care of him, supplying him with money, cars, clothes and a job that didn t require work.

Clarett later fired his agent, Jimmy Sexton, and replaced

him with Steve Feldman, who has a history of helping players

resurrect their images.

It was one of the best moves Clarett has made in a while.

He needs all the help he can get, especially now that numerous

NFL executives consider him a bigger villain than Al Davis, their perennial public enemy No. 1.



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