To say that Maurice Clarett has dealt with significant issues away from the football field would be a massive understatement. To say that the Florida State football program has dealt with some negative off-field issues of late would be one as well.
Recently, those two worlds collided.
As part of Jimbo Fisher‘s ongoing efforts to educate his Seminole football players, the former Ohio State star running back-turned-convict-turned motivational speaker was invited to address Fisher’s squad. In a tremendous piece penned by ESPN.com‘s Adam Rittenberg detailing the hour-long talk with the team, Clarett didn’t hold back in an attempting to convey the message to the players that they don’t have to turn out like him, a convicted felon who spent almost four years in prison following an armed robbery and concealed weapon conviction.
“A lot of y’all need to grow up,” Clarett told his audience composed of football players and other FSU personnel. “That’s the bottom line. What happened to Maurice Clarett in prison was, I needed to grow the f— up. You had the world in your hands, the NFL in your hands, and you f—ed it up because you want to be a gangsta.
“There’s a lot of people in this room that want to be that.”
(Click HERE for Rittenberg’s entire article. It’s worth your time.)
Clarett’s tough-love talk comes a couple of months after a pair of Seminoles were charged in connection to incidents in which they were accused of punching females in the face. One was dismissed, while another will have his fate, football and otherwise, decided in court later this month.
Following those incidents, FSU’s president held a come-to-Jesus meeting with the team. The football team’s head coach, who spoke of no tolerance for hitting women, has publicly laid out the steps he and others are taking to better educate his players.
Fisher’s FSU players are in a new four-step program that includes such things as five-hour seminars. Just one week prior to the first arrest, former Navy SEALs spoke to the team about making good off-field decisions. Fisher is also good friends with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has agreed to work with the football team as part of his “Pass the Peace” campaign, which supports victims of domestic violence. Former Seminoles, including Charlie Ward and Myron Rolle, have offered their services to come back and speak to the team.
It was Clarett’s message, given his past, that resonated most with Fisher.
“That was one of the most bona fide, true, legit talks I’ve been around in college football in 28 years, trying to reach these young men about making the right choices in life,” the coach said. “Having it all going to the bottom, that gives him a lot of credibility, unfortunately.
“But sometimes, these guys have to see that.”
As much as it resonated with Fisher, it needs to resonate more with its intended target.
“He didn’t really tiptoe around anything,” defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample said of Clarett. “The guys who really needed it the most need that direct quote. It means something that can really embed inside their brain.”