Originally created 02/28/04

NFL asks federal court to block Clarett ruling



NEW YORK -- The NFL made another attempt Friday to block the court ruling allowing Maurice Clarett into April's draft.

The league asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling earlier this month, citing "potentially tragic consequences" if it remains intact.

The stay would block Clarett - and presumably USC wide receiver Mike Williams - from entering the draft while the appeals court considers whether Scheindlin's ruling should be overturned.

A message left with Clarett's lawyer, Alan C. Milstein, was not immediately returned.

Clarett announced his intention to enter the draft after Scheindlin tossed out a league rule that a player must be out of high school three years for draft eligibility. She said the rule violated antitrust law.

The NFL then extended until March 1 the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the April draft. Williams, a wide receiver, is the only other player who so far has decided to enter the draft.

Williams is a sophomore, two years out of high school.

Ohio State suspended Clarett before last season for accepting money from a family friend and for lying about it to NCAA and university investigators.

He rushed for 1,237 yards and led Ohio State to a national championship as a freshman in the 2003 season but was ineligible for the draft until 2005 under NFL rules.

In papers submitted Friday, the NFL said Scheindlin's ruling impacts wages and job security for all NFL players.

"The public interest would be poorly served by allowing to remain in effect an order that is almost certain to be reversed," the NFL said.

"For as long as this decision remains outstanding, young athletes, including adolescents, will be encouraged to put at risk their health ... their education and their best prospects of gaining the necessary skills and experience for a career in football or elsewhere - with potentially tragic consequences for both themselves and society."