Clarett ruling has potential to hurt NFL and college

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com
Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin made a decision that's likely to affect the landscape of the National Football League forever.
In a suit filed by former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, Scheindlin declared that a 1990 NFL law that requires athletes to be out of high school for three years to become eligible for the NFL Draft violates antitrust laws.
Clarett has now become eligible for the NFL Draft, as is any other male who has not been out of high school three years.
The NFL has announced its plans to appeal, which it should.
Having covered the NFL for the past two seasons here at the STAR, it is my firm belief that this rule will not only hurt the NFL, but could potentially hurt major college football programs if it indeed remains.
College recruiting could take a big hit as coaches will have to worry about players leaving much earlier than they would normally do.
That could affect the whole process and hurt some of the growing programs across the country.
One thing the NFL had going for them that no other major professional sports league has is that they pushed for and required high school athletes to pursue a college education or wait a few years before trying their hand at the big game.
Even the best high school football players have a hard time adapting to the college game at any level of the gridiron.
The professional game could cause more problems.
Just imagine a "LeBron James" type case on the football field where the media builds up a high schooler to enter the NFL.
The publicity would be even more outrageous, as the NFL is the country's most watched and followed sport.
Football is much different than baseball or basketball, where high schoolers get a chance to work their way into systems.
It is more physical and players need the collegiate level to get them ready for the quickness of the pro game.
Having seen the increased speed on the professional field as opposed to high school and college, it hurts me to think of what could happen to some talented players if they try their hand at the top level.
I'm not saying there isn't a high schooler that can't play in the NFL, but there is arguably a much larger chance that they will fail as opposed to a good two-to-four years of conditioning at the collegiate level.
I like the current NFL system the way it is now. Many people disagree and understandably so.
I think it is safer for the athletes and provides them a better future if they choose the academic path and get conditioned at the collegiate level.
At least go to school for a couple of years, get some education, turn pro and finish out your academic career later.