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Something from nothing

USC's Williams takes high road while sitting in football limbo

Posted: Thursday November 11, 2004 7:40PM; Updated: Friday November 12, 2004 11:09AM
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Pete McEntegart: The 10 Spot -- Thur., Nov. 11
Truth & Rumors: Shanahan nixes Dolphins talk
Josh Elliott: Midseason NFL awards
Michael Bradley: Stay away from Spurrier
Arash Markazi: Mike Williams is no Maurice Clarett
More Blogs: Mannix | Bechtel | Rolfe | Scheft
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They will forever be linked together. Like Magic and Bird, LeBron and Carmelo, and Cheech and Chong. One just isn't the same without the other.

But for former USC receiver Mike Williams, being linked with former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett must be like being hitched to a mail-order bride from hell.

Clarett once again got his name into the news this week when he accused Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel and others at the school of helping him pass classes, receive money for bogus summer jobs and drive around loaner cars.

Figuring that it had been months since he skipped out of the NFL combine and canceled team workouts, Clarett must have thought that airing out his dirty laundry was the best way to "clear his name" with NFL owners and general managers, whose interest in his summer job status pretty much depends on how fast he runs the 40-yard dash.

If Clarett really wanted to know the best way to "clear his name" he should have picked up the phone and called the only other person who knows what it's like to be locked out of the NCAA and the NFL.

It was never Williams' intention to be linked with Clarett. In fact, when Clarett won a court ruling to enter the NFL in February it was never Williams' intention to follow his lead, but when he was told by several scouts that he would be a top-10 pick, things changed. And with his decision, he changed, too. But unlike Clarett, Williams changed for the better.

He never fought the NFL when the league shut the door on him, only asking for the chance to be drafted that he was promised. He never fought the NCAA when they shut him out, only asking them for what most believed was a deserved second chance. And he never fought his school, only asking for their forgiveness in leaving them for the millions of dollars that any other 20-year-old would have if given the chance.

Unlike Clarett, Williams never felt as if he was owed anything. He faced the spotlight of the media after every defeat to his hopes of playing football this year and never made any excuses or blamed others, always taking responsibility for his decisions.

While Clarett continues to alienate himself from his school, his teammates, his coaches, and everyone who was with him the last time he touched a football two years ago, Williams continues to attend classes at USC, soaking up his last days as a student, sans the athlete for now, as he prepares for April's NFL Draft. He continues to help out his teammates, cheering them on from the sidelines at home games and providing guidance to young players like receiver Dwayne Jarrett.

If Clarett took a page from Williams' book and let his actions speak louder than his words, he might be looked upon as highly as Williams in the eyes of the media, and more importantly, the NFL. As it is, Clarett is quickly becoming the Garfunkel to Williams' Simon, the Scolari to his Hanks, the Fatone to his Timberlake, a forgotten figure, who will always wonder what went wrong.

Week Sauce

Let's open up the bottle and pour out the week that was.

Friday -- Giorgio Armani asks Michael Jordan to play for Olimpia of Milan, a basketball team the Italian designer sponsors, this season. Jordan considers the offer, realizing that it can't be much worse than finishing his career with the Washington Wizards.

Saturday -- NBA referees launch their own Web site where fans can read the biographies of every official, making it easier than ever for them to heckle their favorite zebras with personal information such as Dick Bavetta's "collection of doo-wop record from the 1950s."

Sunday -- New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has an idea on how to improve the Knicks, who already have a payroll exceeding $100 million: spend more money. "If they spent $11 million more on the Knicks, maybe the Knicks would be a better team and that would fill Madison Square Garden." Judging by recent NBA contracts, $11 million might be just enough to lure Luc Longley out of retirement.

Monday -- The phone book in Charlotte comes out and accidentally prints the phone number for an adult chat line instead of the number for Charlotte Bobcats ticket sales. Husbands across Charlotte breath a sigh of relief before realizing the old, "I was trying to order Bobcats tickets" line will only work for one of those calls.

Tuesday -- Dave Wannstedt resigns as coach of the 1-8 Miami Dolphins saying, "I have too much respect for the players and owner of this organization to allow myself to be the focal point for the remainder of the season." Yes, that and the fact that he had too much pride to allow himself to be fired at season's end.

Wednesday -- Steve Spurrier says he's not interested in coaching the Dolphins. In a related story, the Dolphins say they're not interested in hiring an overrated, overpaid college coach.

The Six-Pack

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In honor of Latrell Sprewell's classic quote this week after he was "insulted" by the Minnesota Timberwolves' $10-million-a-year contract extension offer ("Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me ... I got my family to feed."), our weekly six-pack, brought to you by Molson Dry (Canada), gives us The Top 6 Dumbest Quotes in Sports History.

6. "My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt." -- Chuck Nevitt, North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice in 1982.

5. ''Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is somebody like Norman Einstein.'' -- Joe Theismann, showing off his Notre Dame education, in 1996.

4. "[He] called me a 'rapist' and a 'recluse.' I'm not a recluse." -- Mike Tyson on a column that writer Wallace Matthews wrote about him in 2002.

3. ''He's a guy who gets up at 6 o'clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.'' -- Boxing trainer Lou Duva talking about Andrew Golota in 1996.

2. "I can't really remember the names of the clubs we went to." -- Shaquille O'Neal when asked if he visited the Parthenon during a trip to Greece in 1994.

1. "I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father." -- Greg Norman in 1986.

The Last Word

After forking over $189 for NBA League Pass so I can keep up with my Los Angeles Lakers here in New York, I watched them lay down to the Memphis Grizzlies 110-87 Wednesday night. I got a feeling I'm going to regret this investment quicker than Nicky Hilton regretted her marriage to "The" Todd Meister.