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Should Mo be released from prison?

July 5, 2009
By ED PUSKAS Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor

THIS is going to sound strange coming from this corner, so don't say you weren't warned:

I'm not entirely opposed to letting Maurice Clarett out of prison early.

The former Ohio Mr. Football at Warren G. Harding High School and star tailback at Ohio State is among the best-known convicted felons currently incarcerated in the state's prison system.

Clarett was originally sentenced to 7 years, a term that would last until February 2014. But a plea deal included the possibility he could be released by the end of 2010.

Clarett and his legal team have asked Gov. Ted Strickland to consider allowing the former football star to get an even earlier start on the rest of his life.

Clarett is 25. The thinking is he might still have some athletic potential if he gets another chance now, rather than waiting another 18 months or worse, several more years.

One of Clarett's attorneys suggested that more than one NFL team has expressed an interest in him. I'm not sure I believe that. If there is interest in Clarett, it's probably more likely to be from a team at a much lower level of competition.

But as long as Clarett has an opportunity to make a living in football at some level, why not?

It's easy to say he should live with the fallout of his own actions, and serve the balance of his sentence. I'm as law and order-oriented as anyone, and I've been as critical of Clarett's mistakes and blown opportunities as anyone.

After watching him develop into the best high school football player I've seen in 24 years in this business, and then watching him lead the Buckeyes to a national championship as a freshman, it seemed such a waste to watch him throw it all away.

But Clarett is the one who has to live with that for the rest of his life, and if Strickland were to grant his wish, I wouldn't be opposed to him getting out and getting on with his life.

Clarett has paid a heavy price for the mistakes he made and the crimes he committed since that one shining season in Columbus. Even if he walked out of prison today, he'd never be able to fulfill the potential he had six years ago. Too much time has passed.

But Clarett is still just 25. He might never be the NFL star he longed to be, but he's still young enough to leave his troubled past behind and be a father and perhaps a husband - maybe contribute to society.

Michael Vick is getting another chance after being involved in a shameful, ugly criminal venture. Donte' Stallworth figures to get one, too, and his actions - drinking and driving - cost a man his life. Stallworth was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Were Clarett's actions really worse than driving drunk and killing a man?



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