I got a call one day in the fall of 2004 from my wife’s brother, who, like the rest of the family, worked in real estate. In his work he’d come across someone named Hai Waknine, an Israeli “businessman” (later referred to as a “mob figure,” “mobster” or “gang member” by the Los Angeles Times and various online news sources). My brother-in-law said, “Have you ever heard of a guy named Maurice Clarett?” and I started laughing because nobody who does what I do within 500 miles of a college football game hadn’t heard of Clarett.
After Ohio State won the 2002 national championship, Clarett attempted to declare his eligibility a year earlier than the NFL allows. His decision wasn’t so much trying to set a groundbreaking legal precedent as it was a practical one. He’d been suspended by Ohio State for the 2003 season for misconduct, so his choices were to sit out a whole season then play another year as an amateur, or go pro and get paid. It wasn’t a tough call.
Clarett won the first round in his legal battle for eligibility, but lost round two in a higher court. Once he lost, and his attorney Alan Milstein reported that he’d hired an agent, he forfeited all his remaining college eligibility.
At that point, he had no choice but to wait for the next draft, which was what he was doing. My brother-in-law said that Hai Waknine was taking care of Clarett – who was living at Waknine’s house – and they were looking for help in representation. Wow.