Clarett#8217;s off-the-wall behavior could be desperate cry for help

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2006

There’s something wrong with this pictured, and not just the obvious problems.

When Judge David Fais delayed Clarett’s first trial date on Monday in order to conduct a mental evaluation of Clarett, the former Ohio State running back became upset, rolling his head back and scoffing at the suggestion.

“I clearly understand everything and I don’t know why we have to drag this thing out,” Clarett said.

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Maybe Clarett understands what’s going on, but there’s more to this than just understanding the charges.

Clarett’s life and career have been on a downward spiral since helping to lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship and a 31-24 overtime upset of Miami in the title game.

He falsified a theft report to police and was suspended his sophomore year, then challenged the NFL for early inclusion to the draft only to lose on the NFL’s appeal.

He was a surprise third round draft pick last spring by the Denver Broncos, but failed to endear himself to the organization and its players.

Clarett was aloof toward his teammates and there were reports he was drinking Grey Goose vodka from a water bottle he took everywhere. Players claimed Clarett would say, “Got to get my goose on.”

It all led to a quick trip to the waiver wire.

Clarett was arrested on a robbery charge outside a Columbus bar New Year’s Day, which is the case being postponed Monday.

Reports say that during the alleged robbery, a woman walked outside the bar and recognized Clarett. Not realizing a robbery was in progress, she reportedly exclaimed, “Maurice!”

When Clarett was arrested this week carrying four loaded weapons and wearing a flak jacket, he was only a few blocks from her home. The woman was scheduled to testify in Monday’s trial.

But there were a lot of odd incidents leading up to this past week’s arrest.

Clarett was driving an SUV and began weaving in and out of traffic. He made an illegal u-turn as if to say, “Look! It’s me! Please save me from myself.”

The police followed him and spiked his tires, thus forcing him to pull off the highway and into a restaurant parking lot on Brice Road..

When a police stun gun failed to affect Clarett due to his bulletproof vest, several officers had to get physical in order to cuff the 245-pounder.

Yet even before Clarett went on his own version of O.J.’s white Bronco ride, he called several people to thank them for all they had done for him.

He called Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. Clarett called Tom Friend who had written a complimentary article about him for ESPN Magazine.

Clarett then got in his car and did an audition for the lead role in Rambo IV.

And inside Clarett’s SUV police found a half empty bottle of Grey Goose vodka along with a tape of inmates singing children’s songs.

Maybe Clarett wants a life inside prison’s walls. Maybe the outside world is too much for him to handle. Maybe he wants someone to discipline him and direct his life step-by-step.

And maybe someone will be able to hear his silent cry for help.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.