Friday, August 27, 2004

Self-defeated by the NFL

I just listened to Outside the Lines on ESPN and the show tonight dealt with the NCAA's decision to NOT reinstate the eligibility of USC wide receiver Mike Williams.

You may recall Williams -- superstar receiver for the best team that didn't have a chance to win the national title, and one who was a true sophomore. When Maurice Clarett challenged the NFL's eligibility rule earlier this year, and won a favorable ruling from the grandstanding judge Shira Scheindlin, Williams piled on and declared his eligibility. Shortly before the NFL draft, the Second Circuit stayed the lower court ruling and eventually threw it out and ruled for the NFL. At that point, Clarett and Williams were ineligible for NFL jobs.

Now I have no sympathy for Clarett. I also have relatively little for Williams who took a chance (on awful advice) in withdrawing from school and declaring for the draft after Scheindlin's Clarett ruling. Indeed, as soon as I heard about the ruling and read Scheindlin's rationale, it became obvious that the ruling was so weak that it might not stand on appeal. Williams was also told by the NFL that if it won the Clarett appeal, it would not hold a supplemental draft to bail him out.

But there are three things notable here: (1) the NCAA really did screw USC and Williams by not telling him what it seemed to know it would do until two days before USC's first game this year; (2) Williams came off VERY WELL tonight -- nice, even-headed kid and certainly not a dumb jock, he had no bad words for anyone and showed no trace of bitterness; (3) this bad result for Williams is the direct result of the baseless ruling Scheindlin made. She has a reputation for loopy rulings and the best thing about being a federal judge is that you won't feel the results of your idiotic lawmaking. Instead, clueless collegians like Mike Williams do.

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