Deadspin obtained copies of the book, “4th and Goal: One Man’s Quest to Recapture His Dream” – a biography of former UFL coach Joe Moglia. The author, Monte Burke of Forbes, was present when Clarett spoke to the team about his life.
A running back for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL, Clarett is quoted in the book as saying football was the focus of his early life, but he quickly found trouble and had a stint in a juvenile detention for breaking and entering. He overcame that to elevate to a star who attended Ohio State.
In his first game as a Buckeye in 2002, Clarett gained 175 yards and had three touchdowns and helped lead the Buckeyes to the national championship. At the same time, he was living the high life.
“I took golf, fishing, and softball as classes,” Clarett said, according to the excerpt. “Away from class, anything you can think of, I did in my 13 months at Ohio State.
“I was living the NFL life in college,” he said in the book. “I got paid more in college than I do now in the UFL.”
His off-field issues eventually derailed his playing career, as Clarett was suspended for receiving improper benefits, then filing a phony police report claiming $10,000 in goods had been stolen from him. He tried to flee to the NFL, but league rules prevented him from entering the draft after just one year in college. He sued, but lost.
That’s when drugs and alcohol kicked in. “I would ride around in my car carrying life sentences, with pounds of weed and bricks of cocaine,” he said, according to the excerpt on Deadspin.
Nonetheless, he was drafted by the Broncos in 2005. Partying too much at night, he was cut before the end of training camp. Back in Columbus, Ohio, he says: “I was popping pills and getting paranoid. I was robbing everyone I knew.”
He was arrested in 2006 for allegedly robbing a man at gunpoint. He tried to pay the man off, but it didn’t work. He was headed to trial and faced time in prison.
A desperate Clarett drank half a bottle of vodka one night, according to the book excerpt, put on a bulletproof vest, grabbed a loaded assault rifle and three handguns and headed off to the man’s house. He didn’t make it there. A missed exit and U-turn resulted in his arrest and a seven-year prison sentence.
Clarett said that prison turned his life around. “I cleared my head, away from the drugs and drinking,” he said, according to the excerpt on Deadspin. “Suffering causes you to mature.”