Tuesday, April 20, 2004


April 20, 2004
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit stayed a lower court order permitting football player Maurice Clarett to enter the NFL draft. The lower court had struck down the NFL's age restriction and allowed Clarett to enter the NFL draft.

The judges said that, in a final court determination, the rule requiring players to be three years out of high school to be eligible for the draft would probably be upheld. Clarett is a sophomore at Ohio State.

The judges also seemed swayed by the argument that the restriction is reasonable. Reasonable? On what basis? 18 year-olds were eligible for the draft to serve in Viet Nam but are not to be eligible for the draft to play in the NFL. Nonsense. If they can be platoon mates in mutual danger, they can be team mates to play football. High school graduates can earn a living working in coal mines, or roof tops, but apparently can not earn money in the NFL.

If Clarett were only over 40 years old, he might have a case for age discrimination.

To rebut the case that this rule is a restraint of trade, the judge relied on the fact this rule is embodied in the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players union. Judge Sonia commented "That's what unions do: they protect people in the union from people not in the union's not illegal."

So the players can agree to keep certain potential competitors out. How far can these agreements go? It is doubtful that the restriction could be applied against employment of other types of people, say African- Americans, or Muslims, or even southpaws. Not even the Patriot Act goes that far.