Who Watches the Talkmen?

By Johnny Ginter on December 17, 2013 at 11:15a

I had dinner with Maurice Clarett once.

Actually, to be more accurate, I tagged along with about five other people to go to City BBQ once and Maurice Clarett was there too. It was fun, at least in part because hey, City BBQ, but also because I got to meet a dude who embodied so much of the narrative that I've come to hear about Ohio State from various media outlets around the country. Up until that point, Clarett was less of a human being and more of a figurehead for 90% of the crap that I had read on message boards and assorted internet forums for years.

But the secret is that he is a human being. Albeit a human being that can consume one and a half entire roasted chickens in the space of 20 minutes, but Clarett is a father, a writer, an entrepreneur, a mental health advocate, a speaker, and now the subject of a very intense documentary shown on ESPN.

He's also a convicted felon who spent time in prison, and that, among his other ups and mostly downs was what ESPN had been occupied with for years. They reveled in the scandal of a man falling apart, but have conveniently ignored that fact of life about some of their own employees.

Let's rewind a bit: I really like Ignition (Remix). When my girlfriend and I took a trip this summer, we bounce bounce bounce bounced our way all the way to the beach, because it was the freakin' weekend and we wanted to have us some fun. And when you enjoy something, sometimes it's easy to forget that R. Kelly is a goddamn creep who got rung up on charges of child porn, and previously had attempted to marry a 15 year old (who he had been in a lengthy relationship with) by claiming she was 18.

That knowledge makes it a lot harder to enjoy R. Kelly's music simply on the basis that the dude continues to be incredibly successful and wealthy without any real consequences to what he's done.

How many times have you seen this photo vs Mo C's mugshot?The very picture of success

So again, maybe you're sitting in front of a guy at City BBQ who is interestingly odd, curious about literally everything, and represents a significant part of your young adulthood. And maybe you forget that the dude robbed people at gunpoint.

It's significant, however, that Maurice Clarett is the first person who will tell you that he's done bad things in life. I know that because he spent a huge part of Youngstown Boys saying that he's done bad things in life. He made no excuses for what he did, and takes full responsibility for improving his own life through positive action. I respect that, because he knows that he's no moral arbiter of how people should live. That's important.

It's even more important because the system that demonized him for years has no real standing to do so.

Ray Lewis joined ESPN in March, and since then he's been their go-to guy for various rants about how football is being destroyed by a nanny state blah blah blah whatever. Lewis is one of the greatest linebackers of all time, is eloquent and passionate to the extreme, and is pretty much the prototypical "intense guy" that people idolize in football to a silly degree.

He also avoided prosecution for a murder by testifying against his friends who were with him on the night of the murder. And the victim's blood was found in his car. And his white suit from the night in question has never been found.

I guess the point is that it strikes me as amazing that one guy who might've done something like literal murder is now being welcomed with open arms on the same network that treated Clarett like a man running completely off the rails for so many years. How much does success in something we enjoy allow us to completely ignore the horrible things that people do?

As an example, Mark May gets a ton of hate from Ohio State fans, but for all the completely wrong reasons. Instead of him being the jerk who dogs OSU all the time, he really should be remembered as the jerk who twice got DUIs as a player for Washington in the NFL, and tried to incite a riot when he played for Pitt. Jalen Rose is a tool, but not because he's a Michigan apologist who says a lot of really stupid things, but because he got arrested and thrown in jail in 2011 for driving after chugging six martinis.

All of these guys were incredible athletes. Ray Lewis is one of the best linebackers ever, Jalen Rose was a very good college and NBA player, Mark May was an All-Pro lineman, and Clarett's 2002 season speaks for itself.

One of these guys has accepted what he did and who he is in a very public and contrite way. The others have done everything they can to prevent people from thinking about what they've done in their pasts, and get to work lucrative jobs in a company that makes value judgments about the actions of young men and women on a daily basis. So the ultimate question is this: who has the real moral authority here?

All I know is that I value the words of a person who very publicly admits to and owns up to his mistakes more than someone who doesn't. Maurice Clarett can move on with his life with the knowledge that he's being as honest as possible about who he was and who he is now. I'm not sure that many of the people who judge him and others in the media can say the same.


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CCatanzaro's picture

Humbling and hard hitting article, Johnny.  Excellent work.

Dairy-fed intellect and pure, unhinged sass.


spqr2008's picture

Humans are, by and large, hypocrites.  It takes a special kind of person to achieve the humility and wisdom that Clarett seems to have now, and honestly, some people frankly have never had their ego broken down to the point he had, and therefore never develop perspective, wisdom, or any kind of moral decency.

razrback16's picture

Yep, pretty much calling a spade a spade, here. I think just about all of us here are quite familiar with SEC Network's 24/7 hypocrisy.

brylee's picture

outstanding write up!

BamaBuckeye144's picture

Excellent stuff right here. It's very, very easy to get caught up in cheering for a football team playing a game and forget that very real people with real problems just like everyone else are playing that game. That was my take away from this. Remember that they are just kids and even as a kid yourself, you did some really stupid things. Maybe you got lucky and didn't get caught when you drove home from the bar or took a bat and ended a mailbox's life.
Point is, we tend to polarize around a sport and forget that real people are behind it. I know I hated Clarett for a while. What he was doing to my school was bad! Never really crossed my mind what it was like to walk in his shoes.
But I do know that you're spot on in stating that actions speak louder than words. MC has shown his change through actions. The others you mention...they just hope it goes away so they can continue to make millions.


Seattle Linga's picture

Mistakes missteps and bad decisions are not the reason for people to hate this guy for the rest of their lives. We all make poor decisions, some of us have to pay a higher penalty than others.
Who of us is going to cast the first stone?

Unky Buck's picture

Well written, Johnny! Quite honestly, I just don't have anything other to say than well done...

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

USMC11917's picture

Met MoC at the Circleville Pumpkin Show. Man was humble and polite and took about 20 minutes to talk to me about Ohio State football and the troubles of the 2012 defense. He alluded to some leadership issues at the staff level but he would not commit to naming names. Of course, I have no idea how much knowledge he has about the current staff/players or the validity of his claims. After reading Meyer's cryptic response about every coach buying into the same system it makes me wonder. I really hate the way things went down with him and our school and the negative publicity that followed but the man was a pleasure to talk to and one of the main reasons we made history in 2002.

FROMTHE18's picture

great picture and Mo looks genuinely happy. Proud as hell about how hes turned things around.

SilverState's picture

"How much does success in something we enjoy allow us to completely ignore the horrible things that people do?"

A lot, unfortunately.

Borrowed Time's picture

very thought provoking article, thanks for posting it

Doc's picture

I sure hope Maurice can stay on the right path.  He really has straightened his life out, and is doing good things for people.
Ray Lewis, to me, is a pos.  Won't watch him, couldn't root for him.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

osubuck57's picture

Awesome read and totally spot on. We condemn certain people while others, it seems get do-overs or free get out of jail cards!! Don't like some decisions Maurice has made in his life, but applaud what he's doing to make changes in it. And no way we have a 2002 Championship without him. He's picked a good mentor in life, JT.


Flip03's picture

And let us not forget that, until recently, they employed credit-card thief Doug Gottlieb for many years.

Bradyhokescholesterol's picture

And whatever happened to Sean Salisbury and Harold Reynolds, anyway?

cinserious's picture

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

klfeck's picture

The outside the lines episode is well worth watching. MoC has is definitely on the right path and I wish him nothing but success.
BTW- His mother is completely amazing. Reminded me of an older Condeleeza Rice. Incredible woman.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

FROMTHE18's picture

Your description of R. Kelly is my feeling towards Lostprophets and their messed in the head POS lead singer Ian Watkins. I used to really like their music but now I cant listen to them and have deleted all of their tunes I had on the itunes because of that disgusting human being. 
On a more relevant note: ESPN is full of crap analysts and crap people, they get away with it because they are ESPN. However, more and more sports fans are seeing through ESPN's BS and have looked for greener pastures to get their sports info. Does that mean ESPN will crumble? Hell no, but its nice to know they do take hits from the general public the way they do. 

harleymanjax's picture

And Mark May wears women's underwear but he still has a lucrative gig with ESPN!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

Barnsey69's picture

This is some great stuff, excellent points about the two-faced, anything-for-a-buck SOP at The ESPN. I have done a lot of volunteer work in prison programs, and it is usually evident which inmates really want to atone for their mistakes and become better, contributing members of society upon their release. I believe Maurice is one of those men, the type that wants to put the past behind and become a better person. He has been accountable for what he did, the crimes he committed, and that is the correct thing to do. There are some that will never give Maurice, or other felons, a second chance, and convicted felons who are serious about change must understand and accept that. However, they are counting on the people in society that will give them that second chance to prove they have been rehabilitated and are ready for a new life.
Maurice stripping the ball from Sean Taylor is easily my favorite play of all-time.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

irishfury's picture

Awesome article.

45has2's picture

What is also overlooked by the media and most people in general is that these are kids. Kids with a brain that will not be fully developed until they are 25 and gone from their school. I'm glad to see Big Mo follow his adult brain and commit his life to productive purposes. The Vest really came off looking like the genuine article IMO. His voice cracked a bit when he talked about having previous players get mixed up in drugs and violent activity. JT always had his players' backs even when they didn't have his. That's a man of integrity.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

llong83's picture

I've been going back and reading some of the articles written and information furnished to the public in regards to his suspension, and some things really stood out to me. 1) The NCAA never suspended Clarett, the AD Geiger did before the NCAA handed down any suspension. 2) Geiger says Clarett received "$1000's of improper benefits" and committed 14 NCAA violations in the process. I have to assume its the car he's referring to as the documentary never alluded to ANY other situation he was being investigated for. 3) Geiger really said Clarett "would be required to make a donation to a charity of his choice equal to the amount he received in benefits, which Geiger termed as "thousands of dollars," if he wants to be reinstated. How would he do that as a poor college student in the first place!!!!?? RIDICULOUS!!!

Buckeyes...or Nothing

llong83's picture

I, still trying to fiure out whats i true and what is not true in regards to the police report he filed about the borrowed car that was broken into. Many articles say he reported over $10,000 of clothing, equipment, etc stolen from the car. In the documentary it stated they found $800 in his wallet and began questioning him about that??

Buckeyes...or Nothing

tennbuckeye19's picture

Clarett wasn't specific and didn't give details, but I remember him being on the Dan Patrick show back during the tat-five crap saying that while he was in Columbus 'several people took care of him'. 

ausmos's picture

The 30 for 30 should not really be referred to as a documentary. It is hard to know how factual the information presented was, since the story was told entirely through Clarett and his supporters. It seemed to me more like a propaganda film than anything else.
Unfortunately, we will probably never know the full story, since Geiger did not, and probably will never, provide any transparency about the investigation. I am fairly confident that the car is just one of many violations that were found, though we will probably never know for sure.

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

It will never get better until ALL Big Ten schools stop w/ the hypocrisy that is ESPN and simply don't tune in any longer when it comes to Big Ten ANYTHING.  Yes I know there are a few games a yr where we HAVE to tune in (unless we can pirate online) but other then that, stop feeding the beast.  Just simply move on and keep flipping that channel.....
I saw Jimmy Jackson on Fox Sports 1 last evening and he did a fantastic job in his short segment on college hoops.  Give their version of SportsCenter a look - its actually better then ESPiN....and if I'm not mistaken, Fox owns or has some relationship w/ BTN.  And really, anyone who finds any value in watching Gameday anymore is just silly or really bored!  To sit there and watch Desmond the tool, Herbie the waffler and Corso the headgear guy, talk about college football on a weekly basis, should have their head examined.  That show is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO predictable week in and week out - why bother any more.  It is sad to see what is happening to Corso cause he just doesn't look or sound right these last couple yrs, but the show overall is just plain STUPID and BLAND.....I'd rather watch paint dry!
ESPiN is like the SEC - someone has to knock em off their perch.....It's coming for the SEC - and hopefully soon for those wingnuts in CT.....

PF_Flyers22's picture

Great points on GameDay...I couldn't agree more. I'd add that Corso is becoming borderline unwatchable. He routinely screws up players names and rambles more often than making a solid point. I know he had the stroke in '09 and that's obviously terrible...but I think it's time for him to move on. 

RuGettinIt's picture

The only thing I will watch on sEcSPiN is a game, other than that I can't see a reason to turn it on. 
Love that MoC was able to turn his life around. 

NC_Buckeye's picture

I actually wished I hadn't watched the 30 for 30 now. I don't know what I was expecting. It's ESPN after all.
Kind of hard watching ESPN dredge up all the blame on Geiger, Ohio State (the institution), and Ohio State (the fanbase) -- all the while ignoring their own responsibility in this mess. Let's not forget that ESPN focused an entire issue of ESPN the Magazine on Clarett without doing any fact checking whatsoever. And then they furthered their malfeasance by creating corresponding segments to air during Saturday broadcasts as a form of corporate cohesion.
None of the patently false allegations that ESPN reported were dealt with in the 30 for 30. (Big surprise, right?) And a lot of those allegations created the environment that Geiger, tOSU (the institution), and tOSU (the fanbase) were responding to.
I know that Maurice is trying to move on and do better with his life. More power to him. But seriously... ESPN can go fuck themselves.

buckeyepastor's picture

What gets me the most about "Youngstown Boys" was Gene Wojciechowski.   Almost made me physically ill to watch him talk about how Ohio State fans had a negative view of Clarett as if it just came from out of nowhere and was incited by nothing when it was in fact his "reporting" and "journalism" that fanned the flames and lit the fuse.   He took the innocent comments of a young, inner-city kid about how eager he was to escape the streets and make a life for those he loved by getting to the NFL and distorted them into an expose about a rebellious young freshman out to "get his" and to hell with the rest of the world.   From the cover photo where Clarett is LITERALLY discarding and tossing aside tOSU to the constant drumbeat of narcissism without context, it was complete garbage and was a big part of poisoning the waters for Clarett in Columbus.    Because of that article, when Clarett sat out with injuries and when he lashed out at not getting to attend his friends' funeral, a lot of people viewed him as a mouthy malcontent instead of a student-athlete needing some well-deserved support and respect.   Because of that article (and Jim Brown's grandstanding), Andy Geiger felt the need to lay an unprecedented punishment on a student athlete.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

OSUNEA1986's picture

You can add J. Winston to the list of questionable behavior/activity without accountability and yet praised and lauded by the same media that chooses to denigrate Ohio State simply because it makes lots of money for ESPN and all of the parasites of college football.
How they sleep at night is beyond me.

ejoceans's picture

MC should be looked at by ALL student athletes and schools as a how to as far as turning your life around after being screwed by the people who are supposed to be protecting you and helping you find your way(the school who wanted you so bad and USED you to get what they wanted then toss you to the side when everything doesn't go exactly how it is planned).  He should be a hero to some and a testimony as to how to go from the top to the very bottom and pick your head up and say ITS ALL ON ME NOW.  And he is doing it very well!  Kudos to you MC. We love you man!!!  I would love to see you help out with the current OSU guys to help them stay on the right path!!

Lets do this Brutus