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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Summer '03 Hobby-Horses Revisited

Two brief sports-related notes on topics that made up a lot of the posts in this blog's early existence back in summer '03.

First, Kobe Bryant has settled his civil case. I don't see how this is really any different from extortion, given that the woman wouldn't even go through with a criminal prosecution. The settlement rationale given by Roger Cossack on ESPN is that this precludes her from doing a book, going on Oprah, etc. If you've read the site, you probably know by now I think the charges against Bryant are highly suspect, though we'll never know what happened, apparently.

Also, Maurice Clarett did badly at the NFL combine over the weekend, leading some to ridicule those, like me, who advocated for Clarett's early entry into the NFL last spring, when he was barred by NFLPA rules and the legal wrangling that ensued.

I have two responses. First, the NFL combine is not the be-all and end-all of one's football abilities. Clarett was the key player on a national championship team at Ohio State, and I have a hard time believing that won't translate to even a modicum of professional football success. Remember the play where Clarett wrestled the ball away from the Miami defensive back who had just made an interception, thus saving the Buckeyes a possession in the Fiesta Bowl? I don't think they test for that sort of ability at the combine.

Also, this issue is much larger than Maurice Clarett himself. I defended Clarett's right to enter the draft (and the right of Mike Williams, who by contrast looks like a first-rounder now) based on the principle that I think a young man ought to have the right to make a living as he chooses without being barred from a profession by arbitrary rules. It was a larger critique of the college feeder system to the NFL.