Thursday, February 05, 2004

Antitrust: Clarett, Cont'd

Judge Shira Scheindlin may have decided she knows better than the NFL about what players should be allowed in the draft, but two ESPN analysts stubbornly maintain their actual experience trumps Judge Scheindlin's antitrust omniscience. Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN's chief draft analyst, said Clarett "looks like no more than a second-round pick," a claim that contradicts Clarett's federal complaint, which brazenly asserted he would've been a high first-round pick but for the NFL's "anticompetitive" behavior. Kiper goes on to say that even if Scheindlin's ruling is upheld, "it will not open the floodgates to an influx of freshman and sophomores entering the draft" because many juniors, who are eligible under the NFL rule, choose to stay in college an extra year even though they are projected first-round picks.

ESPN's Merril Hoge, who unlike Her Honor actually played in the NFL for eight seasons, said Clarett is insane for entering the draft after only playing one year in college:
If and when [Clarett] steps on the field to play in the NFL, he'll realize quickly that he's a boy up against men. Clarett couldn't stay healthy in college -- that's a walk through the park compared to what he'll be facing.

I was only 20 my rookie year, and I could tell everyone was much stronger me. My "welcome to the NFL" hit came in practice courtesy of five-time Pro Bowl defensive back Donnie Shell. He hit me so hard, it split my shoulder pads down the middle and knocked my helmet off my head. It was the hardest hit I ever sustained. I couldn't feel my legs; it was all I could do to walk back to the huddle.
Judge Sheindlin says it's wrong for the NFL to make a blanket assumption that all players below a certain age are incapable of playing in the league. She suggested there were "less restrictive" alternatives for individually assessing players. But that's not the point. The issue is whether the NFL can decide for itself what employment policies to maintain, or whether the league's business judgment can be arbitrarily second-guessed by a federal judge. And frankly, it's hypocritical for the courts to be demanding individualized attention for aspiring NFL athletes when affirmative action—the collective prejudgment of students based on parentage—is upheld as a "compelling" state interest.

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