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Clarett: The Crime Doesn't Fit The Punishment

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By LELAND STEIN III

Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, accused of lying to NCAA and school investigators, will be suspended for the entire season. He supposedly overstated the cost of merchandise that was in a rental car stolen from him and the NCAA blew a gasket because he received benefits because of his football celebrity.

This whole scenario has left me confused like a deer caught in speeding headlights.

I've read and read as much information as I can on this subject, but I have not found a smoking gun that's flat-out affirmative.

Call me blind or dumb, but I really do not see a crime that warrants the type of consequence that was doled out on sophomore superstar running back, Clarett.

It seems there have been so many investigations into Clarett's life that one would think he was running for president of the United States.

Clarett is only a football player, playing a game, but his predicament has turned into a national incident.

After word got out that Clarett was thinking of transferring to a Historically Black College, Grambling, all hell broke loose.

Hall of Famer Jim Brown, an adviser to Clarett's family, said he would encourage Clarett to transfer to Grambling should he be released by Ohio State.

Perusing an AOL sports site to see if I could find information about Clarett's Grambling options, knocked me off balance.

Of course, I know there are many in America that still harbor racist views, but as I traversed the site to find relevant sports information, I found only hate.

I really believe there are more positive people in the world than negative. I really believe that there are more Black and White people who are fair and nonjudgmental.

But, it was a wakeup call for me revisiting the nastiness that's just below the surface in America. Looking for sports information I found the following garbage:

Wrote one: "This racist Jim Brown is actually trying to give this thug (Clarett) advice. Jim is like many Black men, a very angry, racist, playing the race card."

Wrote another: "You White people are so jealous. Just because we have more talent than you, that shouldn't make you people so bitter, but it does."

Wrote another: "Jealous? The only thing I'm jealous about is that Blacks were better cotton pickers than Whites. As far as jealous, I'm very happy looking like a human."

And another: "Whenever a young Black man starts to make something of himself, leave it to the White media to keep him down. When will this type of racial discrimination stop?"

Replied another: "Every time a Black man doesn't get his way, it's racism."

And so it went on and on and on.

Finally a voice of reason: "Can't we all just get along?"

The fact of the matter is Clarett will never get along with the sanctimonious NCAA and it's white shirts. And the NFL with its self-serving rules that prevent a true freshman, sophomore or junior from making themselves eligible for the draft, stacks the deck against Clarett.

The unbelievable wave of hate-speak permeating the Internet is troubling indeed. Most seem to take verbatim, the NCAA position without any regard for Clarett the person.

Clarett, who has had numerous experiences with the loss of childhood friends and relatives, often speaks about people not being able to escape the poverty-stricken, drug infested streets of his hometown.

Experiences like these have caused Clarett to question the ways of the world and how it operates. He was quoted saying, "Life's a whole lot more important than football. We hold the national championship but they won't talk about the homeless and the poor ... it's a game."

Statements like these illustrate that Clarett is more than just a football player; he's a person who is very much aware of what is going on around him.

It would be a bold statement if he united with Doug Williams and Grambling and not wait for the NCAA to reinstate him. It would bring needed exposure to the HBCU's.

I say go and let the underbelly of America continue to spew its hate.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com

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