Clarett loses pair of emergency appeals

WASHINGTON -- The NFL draft will go on this weekend without
Maurice Clarett.

The former Ohio State running back's bid to enter the draft was
turned down by the Supreme Court on Thursday, delaying his attempt
to bypass the league's eligibility rule.

Clarett filed separate emergency appeals with Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg and Justice John Paul Stevens. But both were rejected
Thursday, and the player's lawyer said he will not make a third
try. Alan Milstein, the attorney for Clarett, told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio on Friday that he is dropping all legal pursuit of getting Clarett cleared for the draft.

Neither justice ruled on the merits of Clarett's claim that the
NFL rule that bars him from entering the draft because of his age
is arbitrary and anticompetitive, robbing young players of an
opportunity to enter the multimillion-dollar marketplace.

But the justices refused to consider a lower-court decision that
put the lawsuit on hold, leaving Clarett's name out of the NFL
draft that begins Saturday.

Ginsburg said Clarett could still get to the NFL this year since
the league has expressed a willingness to promptly hold a
supplemental draft if Clarett prevails in his lawsuit.

Clarett, who is two years out of high school, is challenging the
NFL's requirement that players wait three years after high school
before turning pro.

His attorneys cited a court ruling that allows major league
baseball players to move among teams, and other court decisions
that opened the NBA, the NHL and the now-defunct U.S. Football
League to younger players.

The issue is pending before 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
New York, which put on hold a lower-court ruling that said the NFL
can't enforce its three-year rule.

The NFL contends younger players are not physically ready to
play professional football and may harm themselves by over-training
or resorting to steroid use.

"From the NFL's perspective, this was never really about
Maurice Clarett," NFL attorney Gregg Levy said."It was about a
rule that has served the NFL well, served fans well and served
players well for many years."

Clarett led Ohio State to a national football title as a
freshman in 2002, but he was ruled ineligible as a sophomore for
accepting money from a family friend and lying about it to NCAA and
university investigators.

A victory by Clarett at the Supreme Court would have helped
another college player as well: wide receiver Mike Williams of
Southern California, who also is seeking to get into the draft in
violation of the three-year rule.

"The NFL may have been successful in keeping them out of
Saturday's draft, but there's always the possibility of the
supplemental draft," said Williams' agent, Mike Azzarelli.

While Williams would've been a first-round pick, Clarett was
expected to be a late second-round or third-round choice. Clarett
hasn't played since the 2002 season at Ohio State, showed up out of
shape at the NFL scouting combine, and had what most scouts
considered a mediocre workout in Columbus, Ohio, earlier this

Williams withdrew his lawsuit against the NFL in U.S. District Court on Friday. Azzarelli says that Williams will wait, along with Clarett, for the appellate court's ruling.

NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard said the schools also could appeal
for reinstatement of Williams and Clarett, and such issues would be
determined on a case-by-case basis.

"I think it would be premature to decide one way or the other
where the membership will ultimately come to rest," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.