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On Clarett v. NFL: tell it like is!

There is at least one newspaper columnist willing to discuss the real motivations of the NFL and NCAA in this case. Here's John Romano:

There have been all sorts of legal maneuvers in the NFL's battle to keep younger men out of its annual draft.

All we lack is this:


In the next day or two, a U.S. Supreme Court decision will determine whether Maurice Clarett and Tampa's Mike Williams will be permitted to join Saturday's draft. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has asked the NFL to file a response to Clarett's emergency appeal by this morning.

The NFL, that font of compassion, would have you believe it cares only about the welfare of young athletes. Ditto for the players association. The NCAA suggests its greatest concern is the education of students.

In legal terms, this would be known as deceit or misrepresentation.

Outside of court, it would be crapola.

Now, understand, there is great anticipation the NFL will win this legal battle. That antitrust laws and precedent are on the league's side.

And many of the issues raised by the NFL are valid. Particularly when the league argues most 19- and 20-year-olds are not physically prepared to handle the rigors of playing at the sport's highest level.

But it is difficult to throw support behind the NFL and the NCAA when you realize the hypocrisy that is driving their arguments.

When push comes to shove, the NFL could care less about the well-being of its players. It is a league of disposable parts. A league that loved the cost-effectiveness of artificial turf. A league without guaranteed contracts. A league that markets brutality in its video games.

There is one, overriding reason the NFL is fearful of high school graduates or college freshmen entering the league:

It would be an added expense.

Under the current system, the NFL essentially pays nothing for a farm system. Not only does the NCAA function as a de facto minor league, but it serves as a marketing tool. This way, by the time they reach the NFL, players already have a measurable star appeal.

Romano is right on the money. Check it out.