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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Clarett would have hard time getting back in

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Via Newsday, I ran across a blog item written by imprisoned former Denver running back Maurice Clarett.

Clarett, who could be freed from the Ohio prison system in time for the 2010 season, writes that he is ready to give football a try again.

Clarett, 25, could be joining Michael Vick by trying to transition back into the NFL after doing prison time. While Vick will not likely have an easy transition, Clarett's would be even more difficult.

I would not be surprised if teams back away from Clarett because of his combination of legal issues and his lack of an NFL pedigree. Clarett was a star at Ohio State during the 2002 season. If he tries to play in the NFL in 2010, he'll be doing so after an eight-year layoff. Who is going to be interested a player who hasn't played competitively in nearly a decade?

Clarett was a disaster in his short NFL stint. He was one of Denver's first cuts during training camp during his rookie season in 2005. Clarett never played during a preseason game. The Broncos were upset with Clarett because they thought he played up a minor hamstring injury that kept him out for his final two-plus weeks in Denver. Clarett did little to impress the team before the injury. He looked rusty after a two-year layoff.

Denver was the butt of jokes around the league after it cut Clarett after taking a third-round flyer on him. Clarett wasn't expected to be taken until late on the second day of the 2005 draft. Yet, Denver rocked the league by taking him with the final pick of the first day.

Clarett didn't get any serious bites by other NFL teams after he was cut by Denver. Five years later, his off-field baggage has increased as has his football rust. If Clarett tries a comeback next year, don't expect another team to create a bombshell as Denver did in 2005.