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NFL asks Court of Appeals for stay in ruling

2/28/2004

NEW YORK -- The NFL made another attempt Friday to block the
court ruling allowing Maurice Clarett into April's draft.

The league asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a
stay of U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling earlier this
month, citing "potentially tragic consequences" if it remains
intact.

The stay would block Clarett -- and presumably USC wide receiver
Mike Williams -- from entering the draft while the appeals court
considers whether Scheindlin's ruling should be overturned.

Clarett's lawyer, Alan C. Milstein, said the likelihood that the
appeals court would block the ruling was "so remote as to be next
to impossible."

"We'll win at this level. We'll win at the Second Circuit. If
they go to the Supreme Court, we'll win there," Milstein said.
"We are prepared to win at every level we have to win until this
is over."

Clarett announced his intention to enter the draft after
Scheindlin tossed out a league rule that a player must be out of
high school three years for draft eligibility. She said the rule
violated antitrust law.

The NFL then extended until March 1 the deadline for
underclassmen to declare for the April draft. Williams, a wide
receiver, is the only other player who so far has decided to enter
the draft via Scheindlin's ruling.

Williams is a sophomore, two years out of high school.

Ohio State suspended Clarett before last season for accepting
money from a family friend and for lying about it to NCAA and
university investigators.

He rushed for 1,237 yards and led Ohio State to a national
championship as a freshman in the 2003 season but was ineligible
for the draft until 2005 under NFL rules.

In papers submitted Friday, the NFL said Scheindlin's ruling
impacts wages and job security for all NFL players.

"The public interest would be poorly served by allowing to
remain in effect an order that is almost certain to be reversed,"
the NFL said.

"For as long as this decision remains outstanding, young
athletes, including adolescents, will be encouraged to put at risk
their health ... their education and their best prospects of
gaining the necessary skills and experience for a career in
football or elsewhere -- with potentially tragic consequences for
both themselves and society."