Shutdown Corner - NFL

Michael Vick(notes) does not have the market cornered on athletes-turned-convicts who would like to turn athletes again. Former Denver Broncos draftee Maurice Clarett is sitting behind bars, dreaming of playing professional football again.

According to his blog, he's in good physical shape, and he certainly sounds inspired. Here's a snippet:

I want to play. I am going to play somewhere. I cannot accept how things ended. I won’t accept how they ended. I am 220, rock solid. I am moving swift, running fast, and jumping high. My mind is right and my life is in order. I am 25 but I feel like I am 18. I am still young. Those who do support me deserve and want to see me out there playing again. I play with some pretty good athletes back here. In the penitentiary you could say basketball is football. Back here everything is aggressive. Everything is intense. I know I am an asset to someone’s locker room on so many levels. I’ve survived some of life’s worst struggles. I am not a statistic. I am still here and I am still living. I didn’t and won’t give up. I am a winner. I am optimistic. I am inspirational. I am alive. I want to play for the love and the respect. I want to play for the underdogs. I want to play because I know how to really well. Hopefully, they’ll open these gates soon and I’ll be able to get out on the field again. I am healthy mentally and physically. I am rock solid. I train hard. I go hard. I’m HERE.

Yes, you are there. But the rest of us are out here, and at the moment, that's the problem.

It might not be the case much longer, though. It was September of 2006 when Clarett went in, and he agreed to a sentence of seven and a half years with a possible early release after three and a half years. Assuming the early release comes through, we're about 10 months away from Clarett walking out of the joint and trying to get back into football. He'll be 26.

One would think that the upstart UFL or Arena League would be more likely destinations than the NFL. Clarett was considered to be a reach even when the Broncos drafted him in the third round, and despite his intramural prison athletic prowess, it's still anybody's guess as to where his skills will be when he gets out.

If there is such a thing, Clarett right now is a poor man's Michael Vick. Like Vick, he will have done his time, paid his debt, and deserves another chance. But he was never the dazzling athlete Vick was, his crimes were universally condemned (unlike Vick's), and ESPN won't be assigning 13 reporters to cover Clarett's eventual release.

We'll see what happens, though. If he can play, chances are, he'll get an opportunity to do so somewhere.

Gracias, Newsday.

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