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Old 08-19-2006, 10:27 PM   #153
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I didn't know where to put this good article but it mentions Clarret so this is as good as any.

Athletes need to prepare for life after sport

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"Fiery Scenes of Seduction" is the title of a book of poems written by Kerry Carter.

Thousands of books of poetry have been written, but what sets this one apart is that Carter is a pro football player.

Or rather, he was a pro football player.

Carter was attempting to earn a roster spot with the Washington Redskins when he suffered a season-ending, and probably career-ending, knee injury last Sunday.

Carter is in better shape than most athletes for life after football.

He already has a degree from Stanford, a fledgling acting career, his published book and a clothing business.

He might not be able to make ends meet simply from his writing, though. As of Friday, his 128-page book of poems ranked 499,709th on Amazon's sales list.

That's not as bad as it sounds. A week earlier, Carter's book sales had no ranking on Amazon.

Carter is the latest example of the fragility of an athlete's career. When the ligaments in Carter's knee collapsed, he hadn't even been hit. He simply planted his foot in the artificial surface of Paul Brown Stadium, and his knee caved in.

He will have surgery, courtesy of the Redskins, the team that cut him Tuesday. Coach Joe Gibbs expressed his sadness that things had worked out as they had.

Soon, hundreds of young players will be cut from the 32 NFL teams. Most will be anonymous performers who once were stars in high school and college who soon will be out of work.

It's easy to lose sight of just what is at stake. The lowest paid member of an NFL team earns $235,000 per season. Jobs that pay as well are difficult to find in the real world.

Making the transition more difficult is that so many of these young men have been trained to be nothing but football players.

This is why academic integrity at colleges and universities is so important.

For every Kerry Carter equipped with a degree from one of the elite institutions in the world, there are hundreds of young players who are short, sometimes surprisingly far short, of earning a degree.

An even larger problem is that some who have degrees were pushed through classes in an ambiguous major, leaving them prepared to do little other than run, block or tackle.

The value of a player's eligibility almost always will trump the value of a player's education, and that is not just in football.

Wise athletes prepare for the day when they no longer are athletes. The problem is that even wise young athletes have a difficult time realizing their mortality.

No better example of that exists than Maurice Clarett. Few have squandered the trove of opportunities available more thoroughly or more publicly than Clarett. He blew an opportunity at Ohio State and practically was disdainful of the second chance offered him by the Denver Broncos.

Clarett will no longer be remembered as the freshman running back who scored the game-winning touchdown for the Buckeyes against Miami in the Bowl Championship Series title game Jan. 3, 2003.

Instead, he will be remembered as the former football player who was arrested wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying four loaded guns and a hatchet. And, for comic relief, it will be noted that when he resisted arrest and was shot with a Taser, the Taser did not work because Clarett was wearing the bullet-proof vest.

Clarett's downfall is a cautionary tale.

Thousands of young athletes see themselves as sure-fire college stars and eventual NFL millionaires.

Few realize that dream. Not all of them end up in jail with futures as dismal as the one facing Clarett. But too few of them are as prepared for life after football as Carter.

Every college athlete does not need to be a poet. But every college athlete needs to think about life outside of his sport. And he needs to realize that the ultimate responsibility for his education resides not with the coach, the system or the school but with himself.
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