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Clowney lawsuit likely would fail

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at South Carolina AP

At the root of the question of whether the interests of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney would best be served by sitting out the 2013 college football season is a rule that prevents him from entering the draft before 2014.

Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports (who apparently survived that giant plate of hot dog chili with shredded cheese that he scarfed down as a possible last meal during the Super Bowl blackout) argues that Clowney should challenge the rule in a court of law.  And while Silver makes a variety of salient philosophical points, the problem is that this ground already has been plowed unsuccessfully — under a stronger set of facts.

In 2004, Maurice Clarett initially secured a floodgates-opening ruling that struck down the NFL’s three-year waiting period, which arises from a desire to strike the right balance with college football coaches who run the league’s free farm system, and who can make it much harder for NFL teams to scout college football players by restricting access to practices and film and other pertinent information.  (Receiver Mike Williams joined the flurry of otherwise ineligible players, and then Williams found himself ineligible to return to USC after the ruling failed on appeal, because he had signed with an agent.  Williams was the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft; Clarett went to the Broncos at the bottom of round three.)

At the time Clarett sued, the three-year rule wasn’t part of the labor deal.  The fact that the waiting period didn’t result from bargaining between the NFL and the NFLPA helped Clarett’s case at the district court level.  Even though Clarett’s case ultimately failed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the NFL insulated itself against a future challenge in a state falling within another circuit (there are 13 in all) by making the rule part of the 2006 CBA.

That’s why it’s odd, to say the least, to see Silver explain that the union would welcome a challenge to the rule.  The union has agreed to the rule, making the union as much to blame for its existence as the NFL.

Moreover, should the union really welcome the opportunity for more players to potentially bump current union members out of jobs?  For every players who gets in to the NFL earlier than he otherwise would under the existing rule, that’s one more veteran who gets pushed out.  (And it’s that kind of protectionist thinking that spawned the current rookie wage scale.)

Though the three-year rule is unfair to the men who play football for free (or close to it) at the college level, the fact that the NFLPA has signed off on the rule makes it even harder for Clowney or anyone else to fight it.

Besides, Clowney apparently wouldn’t file suit, even if he had a good chance of winning.  By all appearances, Clowney remains fully under the spell of a multimillionaire “Ball Coach” who has no problem with shaming his players into playing football for peanuts in comparison to the paycheck given to a guy who never has to step between the white lines and put his future earning potential at risk.

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33 Responses to “Clowney lawsuit likely would fail”
  1. cosanostra71 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:19 AM

    So he’s a poor college student? Join the club.

  2. ukraiders says: Feb 14, 2013 10:25 AM

    Why all of a sudden do people think its a bad rule?? I’m sorry if injuries happen but just because people think your going to be great doesn’t mean your going to. Mike Williams and Clarett were going to be all pros.

    What about all the ACL injuries to people who aren’t playing pro ball after college? Who cares about them? Play your 3 years and shut it. The first time an 18 year old got seriously hurt there would be an article asking if this rule was in the best interest of the player

  3. zengreaser says: Feb 14, 2013 10:38 AM

    Are we really going to keep revisiting this issue? The system that is in place is a good one. And to perpetuate this notion that they are playing for “peanuts” is insulting to pretty much every other person who has gone through college. These players go to college for FREE. That’s easily a $100,000 minimum cost they don’t have to pay for. But for most people, they have to pay their own way through school in order to increase their earning potential once they graduate. Can’t say I feel sorry for them (especially when most of the players are secretly getting paid in one fashion or another by boosters).

  4. maximusprime107 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:45 AM

    For every one athletic freak of nature (Clowney) who’s ready for the NFL right out of high school, there are thousands of other college athletes who are not

  5. modhairken says: Feb 14, 2013 10:46 AM

    Can’t you clowns ever finish a story without some political correct passive aggressive BS? I get sick of all of the Redskins name change crying and now you want to gripe that college players aren’t paid. Go light a candle and take a bath.

  6. maximusprime107 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:46 AM

    For every one athletic freak of nature (Clowney) who is ready for the NFL right out of high school, there are thousands of college football players who are not

  7. radford7 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:50 AM

    He needs to take out a 20 million dollar injury insurance policy and play football. 95% of college football players who are going into their 3rd year are not ready for the N.F.L. Clowney is an anomaly not the norm and they are not going to change the rule for one player. Comparing him to Marcus Lattimore is not comparable due to the positions they play, one is being attacked and one is the attacker which lessens his chances of being hurt. The insurance policy negates the danger of losing first round money and perhaps the “Ole Ball Coach” should pay the premium.

  8. eaglesw00t says: Feb 14, 2013 10:51 AM

    The 3 year rule was always a bad thing. It benefits the NFL, and nobody else.

    Sure, it makes college football fun to watch because the players have to play college football for longer.

    But why should the players care? An NFL career is time sensitive. Shouldnt these kids try to get to the NFL as early as possible, just like the NBA? Why would the union agree to this rule in the first place?

    a 2 year rule would be fine, and would benefit these athletes much better. And if you need a third year, take it. Switch it from 3 to 2 in the next CBA, and everyone is happy, except the NFL. Because their free farm system doesnt produce quite as polished players. Whatever though

  9. thebigcaptain2011 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:53 AM

    So the same people who rant and rave about rights and freedoms want to bash this kid because he wants to exercise his right to work? He’s trying to earn a living. NFL teams want him and he wants to play in the NFL. Shouldn’t he have the right to do so?

  10. ThatGuy says: Feb 14, 2013 10:59 AM

    Why doesn’t he just say screw it, and sign a one year deal in the CFL. A prospective number 1 overall pick could probably get a 6 figure salary there. Make a little money, keep playing ball.

  11. getyourownname says: Feb 14, 2013 11:02 AM

    That would be a clown lawsuit, bro.

    Well, someone had to say it.

  12. rockthered1286 says: Feb 14, 2013 11:03 AM

    So remind me again- how often do you hear about NFL players going back to college to finish their final year of credits, get a degree, and have a fall back plan once they retire from the NFL after 7-13 years and are flat broke? I’d say a decent amount. One year is cake and it helps them with future employment once in their 30′s. not every ex player can be an announcer or spokesman. There are without a doubt a solid group that go for that degree every year.

    Now how many do you hear about in the NBA that only requires a single year of college and would force them to earn 3 full years of credits to finish? None.

    The rule HELPS the athletes too. Don’t be foolish.

  13. sparky151 says: Feb 14, 2013 11:18 AM

    Clowney would be in good shape legally if he played at the other USC. It’s in the 9th circuit where the Spencer Haywood case (overturning the NBA’s age limit) remains good law. Clarett was dumb to choose the 2nd circuit for his case but since Sotomayor was one of the panelists, it might receive more deference than other circuit judgements usually do. Or maybe not. The 11th circuit isn’t bound by decisions from courts in NY so Clowney doesn’t have anything to lose apart from attorney fees.

    I believe South Carolina is a right to work state unlike New York so the CBA isn’t dispositive with regards to a non-member. The NFL rule certainly looks vulnerable to a right to work challenge. The NFL can hardly claim that Taft-Hartley doesn’t apply.

  14. sparky151 says: Feb 14, 2013 11:21 AM

    Oops, South Carolina is in the 4th circuit (based in Richmond) rather than the 11th (based in Atlanta) but the point remains.

  15. elmaxoh says: Feb 14, 2013 11:27 AM

    Why doesn’t he just say screw it, and sign a one year deal in the CFL. A prospective number 1 overall pick could probably get a 6 figure salary there. Make a little money, keep playing ball.

    —————————————

    Remember Marcus Dupree ?

  16. raiderufan says: Feb 14, 2013 11:34 AM

    Who is pushing this point? I very well might have missed something from Clowney himself but this is starting to seem like a fight being fought for someone that isn’t upset about the rule.

    Every single year more Juniors get drafted then Seniors….ALL those players took the same risk Clowney is and most probably did the same thing and took out insurance. I really don’t get how this is an issue?

    Like was said above, if he takes school serious and god forbid an injury does happen he went for free and is at worst a year from a FREE degree from a major university and his insurace will pay out a considerable sum to cover his potential earnings loss….Again, what is the issue here?

  17. thegreatgabbert says: Feb 14, 2013 11:42 AM

    All the student football players should sue. There are a few 18 year olds playing in the NHL as we speak. In Canadian and American cities. Having signed contracts comparable to the top 10 NFL draft picks. The top NBA picks have a chance to step into the league at the same age. Ditto, MLB, MLS, PGA, or pretty much every sport outside of football. You can’t have seperate rules depending on the sport which so profoundly affect basic human rights. You JUST CAN’T. It isn’t even arguable.

  18. kleppnasty says: Feb 14, 2013 11:46 AM

    Third time’s the charm.

    This is a good rule. It prevents ill prepared kids from flooding the NFL and/or canceling their college career prior to being ready. We already see too many guys come out too early as it is, and when they are drafted and are busts, they are taking up roster spots and money from more deserving players.
    On top of this, is this really unfair. Most jobs require college degrees to get it, even though the degree itself is not needed to do the day to day tasks. So if the avg college student has to pay for 3 or 4 years of education to get a piece of paper so that they can apply for a job, where is the terribleness in a player being forced to wait for three years?

  19. minibull says: Feb 14, 2013 11:52 AM

    One other point is that if a college player is hurt and can no longer play for the team, the college won’t toss them out on the streets. They almost always keep their scholarship so they can finish their degrees.

  20. mj1818 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:05 PM

    Stop making these “poor” division 1 athletes seen so victimized! Oh the NFL has a free farm system poor college athletes such a tough life. If they think its such a horrible rule don’t play football period. Poor athlete playing for free boo hoo… I think we all know that any super star college player is not playing for free they get paid no matter what anybody thinks, whether by boosters through a money hand shake or when they win a bowl game getting a ton of gifts that they sell…if he doesn’t like the rule don’t play. Poor college athletes getting free school, living, food, and a vast amount of benefits.

    Rant completed.

  21. wcman says: Feb 14, 2013 12:08 PM

    Florio is on the soapbox again. First the Redskins now underage players. Stick to the NFL news that people actually care about would you?

    Clowney is not playing for free, neither is any other athlete that gets a free ride to a College education. Most professions require a degree to be hired for a certain job; the NFL is no exception. Your degree is playing College ball or being out of H.S. for at least 3 years and hopefully having the sense to get your educational degree as well. An 18 year old has a right to make a living if he wants; McDonalds hires teenagers quite regularly I hear. The rule is there because most guys Clowney’s age are not ready for the toll that the NFL takes on their body and the NFL wants these guys to actually have something to fall back on when their career is over. Crazy I know.

  22. billsfan1 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:14 PM

    to say he is unable to earn a living is just not correct. HE could clearly look for a job outside of the NFL.. Oh wait, he cant work… BECAUSE he is getting a free education. Not only is the education free but he is not going to be straddled with student loan debt. How he uses his time at college is not my problem, nor the NFL”S.

    Sure he may be able to physically take on the next level but emotionally and mentally, not a chance.

    lets face it, rg3 and Luck could have succeeded in the nfl a year earlier but didnt complain.

    The few guys who make that kind of push to clamor for this rule to be changed, do not want to rush to the NFL to accept the challange, they want the contract. Nothing more

  23. guinsrule says: Feb 14, 2013 12:18 PM

    A mostly black male workforce, involved in physical labor, compensated mostly with room and board, while other people make incredible profits from their labor is called…

  24. billsfan1 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:19 PM

    All the student football players should sue. There are a few 18 year olds playing in the NHL as we speak. In Canadian and American cities. Having signed contracts comparable to the top 10 NFL draft picks. The top NBA picks have a chance to step into the league at the same age. Ditto, MLB, MLS, PGA, or pretty much every sport outside of football. You can’t have seperate rules depending on the sport which so profoundly affect basic human rights. You JUST CAN’T. It isn’t even arguable.

    bad example…In Hockey, sure an 18 is allowed to make the team, and is given 10 games as a tryout. but at that age, he is not ready then he must be sent to his junior club. HE cant play on the NHLS’ minor league affiliate due to his age.. If he could then he could start to earn on his entry level contract and start in the minors and be called up at some point.Therefore even in hockey there is a certain amount of restriction due to age

  25. gmenfan1982 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:20 PM

    As a bigger fan of the college game than the pro game, I love this rule so I can see a player play more games in college. I also like the rule because it protects a very young adult from possibly making a poor choice by not finishing school. On the other hand, why shouldn’t someone be able to make their own choice? If a team is willing to sign a guy who left college early then said player should be allowed to make that choice.

  26. chipwade says: Feb 14, 2013 12:35 PM

    I think a two-year rule with a NFLPA vote should allow these players to enter the draft. The NFLPA could determine if they are mature enough and physically capable of handling the rigors of the NFL.

    Amobi Okoye was drafted when he was 19 years old. Perhaps put in a clause with the younger players that they can return to college if they are not signed or drafted.

  27. moth25 says: Feb 14, 2013 12:38 PM

    Why couldn’t I work when I was 14 or 15? I was ready and willing and definitely could have used the money. Is it FAIR that there is a 3 year wait? Probably not, but since when is life fair. It is a requirement for that particular career. As someone else pointed out, many careers require college degrees, even if the person already has the skills and talent to do the job.

    The union agreed to it and for selfish reasons (try actually reading the article), so everyone who is only bashing the NFL for this needs to learn to read and comprehend.

  28. wmelch says: Feb 14, 2013 12:40 PM

    Anyone able to figure out what the last sentence in the article means? This sentence has more dependent clauses than the North Pole welfare dept. on Dec 26.

  29. beavertonsteve says: Feb 14, 2013 2:03 PM

    NCAA Football is the NFL’s minor league. In the current set up player provide a service worth millions in exchange for college credits (which are normally wasted by the top 10% who end up going pro). I say if an NFL team wants to draft and pay an 18 year old let them. They still wouldn’t be able to play in the NFL until they complete their 3rd year, but now they are actually getting compensated. I know there are a lot of issues that would have to be ironed out, but it’s a more realistic approach than today’s sham.

  30. ss376 says: Feb 14, 2013 2:24 PM

    With any luck, the O’Bannon lawsuit will bring down the NCAA’s house of cards.

  31. reaser2 says: Feb 14, 2013 4:00 PM

    Lines like this always make me laugh; “has no problem with shaming his players into playing football for peanuts in comparison to the paycheck given to a guy who never has to step between the white lines”

    So we have a blogger, who has never played football at any sort of legitimate level, talking about how a former Heisman winner and NFL QB “never has to step between the white lines.” He already did, he also “played for peanuts” in college AND in the NFL (contracts weren’t what they were now.) So keep trying to make him out like some pansy who never would step between the white lines, while infact he did and it’s you who didn’t.

  32. mrpowers88 says: Feb 14, 2013 5:28 PM

    “That’s why it’s odd, to say the least, to see Silver explain that the union would welcome a challenge to the rule. The union has agreed to the rule, making the union as much to blame for its existence as the NFL.”

    Because the union has shown themselves to be above challenging things they’ve agreed to- HGH testing, waiving collusion claims?

  33. mj1818 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:14 PM

    Wow guinsfan you have to go that route? Does anyone get held against their will? Do they not get a chance at a better life for going to top universities for free? It has nothing to do with race cause I’m pretty sure white folks play football too.

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