Broncos never connected with Clarett

Updated: August 9, 2006, 4:59 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Denver Broncos safety Nick Ferguson tried to reach out to Maurice Clarett during last year's training camp, but the former Ohio State running back turned a cold shoulder.

Clarett, taken in the third round of the 2005 draft, wouldn't let any of his teammates get to know him. That's one of the reasons the Broncos cut Clarett before he even played a down in the NFL.

"He was pretty withdrawn, which is really hard to be being around guys like this in the organization," Ferguson said. "If you can't gel with guys on this team, there's a problem."

Upon hearing the news of Clarett's latest brush with authorities -- he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after a highway chase early Wednesday -- safety John Lynch couldn't help but feel saddened by the fall of the former Buckeyes star.

"It's a shame," Lynch said. "You don't like to see that with anybody. We spent a short time around here and everyone wants to talk about what went wrong, but the kid was a nice kid. I wish him the best."

Clarett injured his groin early in training camp last year and never got a chance to show the form that helped lead the Buckeyes to a national championship at the end of the 2002 season. Clarett's reluctance to associate with teammates was a factor when Denver coach Mike Shanahan decided not to keep him around on injured reserve or the practice squad.

"We tried to reach [out to] him quite a bit when he was here," Shanahan said. "What he did have here was a lot of support from our veterans. Our players really tried to take care of this guy and he wanted no part of it. That's one of the reasons why he didn't make our football team."

When asked if more could've been done to help out the troubled running back, Shanahan shook his head.

"I don't think I've ever been around a bunch of guys reaching out to a guy more than Maurice, trying to help him and a guy not wanting that help," Shanahan said. "That's a shame.

"It's just a shame that this has happened to a guy that [had] so much promise, so much ability. I'm not sure what happened, but it's a real shame."

After Clarett was taken into custody by police in Columbus, Ohio, officers found guns in his sport utility vehicle. He was also wearing a bullet-proof vest.

News of his arrest troubled former Ohio State teammate Tyler Everett, who's been friends with Clarett since they were 12 years old. Everett, a rookie safety trying to earn a spot with Denver, said that didn't sound like the Clarett he knows.

"For him to carry guns and do stuff like that, there has to be more to the story," Everett said. "He's a good guy who's had bad guidance, and listens sometimes to the wrong people."

Clarett is currently awaiting trial on two counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of robbery and one count of carrying a concealed weapon in a separate Jan. 1 case. Authorities said he flashed a gun and robbed two people of a cell phone in an alley in Columbus.

Everett is expecting to hear from Clarett, who always calls when he gets into trouble.

"I'll be here to talk to him, give him some advice," said Everett, who last heard from his friend when Clarett wished him good luck right before camp.

Clarett's former teammates are still rooting for him to get his life straightened out.

"Of course you've got to feel sorry for anybody in that state," Ferguson said. "I hope someone gets him help.

"I'd hate to see the young man's life have a turn for the worse."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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