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Clarett case won't be reheard

Player could appeal to Supreme Court

A federal appeals court has rejected running back Maurice Clarett's long shot bid to get the court to reconsider his lawsuit challenging the NFL's eligibility rule for the draft.

Lawyers on both sides were told this week that the 2d US Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected a request for a rare rehearing by all 11 judges. The former Ohio State player must now decide whether to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

In May, a three-judge appeals panel said federal labor policy allows NFL teams to set rules for when players can enter the league, stopping Clarett from entering the NFL draft.

A telephone message seeking comment was left yesterday for Clarett's lawyer, Alan Milstein. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had no comment.

A lower court judge in February ruled Clarett eligible for the draft, saying the NFL violated federal antitrust laws with its rule barring eligibility until a player was three years out of high school. Clarett was only two years out of high school at the time. He will be eligible for the draft in April no matter what happens in court.

Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman in 2002, leading the Buckeyes to the national championship. He was suspended before the 2003 season for accepting money from a family friend and lying about it to NCAA and Ohio State investigators.

Bears look at Couch
Quarterback Tim Couch took a physical and worked out for the Chicago Bears, but the team has not determined whether to sign the former top draft pick. The Bears were going to evaluate Couch's performance, team spokesman Scott Hagel said. Chicago starter Rex Grossman is out for the season with a knee injury and backup Jonathan Quinn has struggled in two starts. Rookie Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson, who started nine games for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie in 2002, are also in the mix for the Bears . . . In other Chicago news, the Bears gave scarce flu vaccines to two players who have asthmatic conditions that placed them at high risk of developing influenza, the team said. The team returned its unused flu vaccine to the distributor, Hagel said. The team called a news conference in response to media reports that healthy players had received the vaccinations . . . Philadelphia defensive end Jerome McDougle missed practice because of an irregular heartbeat and was doubtful for the Eagles' game this weekend against Cleveland. He spent most of Thursday evening at the emergency room and took medication that restored a normal heartbeat. McDougle had no history of heart trouble. Coach Andy Reid said he'll wait until doctors make a final decision before deciding if McDougle can play . . . Vikings receiver Randy Moss tested his strained right hamstring, but his status for Minnesota's game against Tennessee this weekend remained uncertain.

McCardell may start
Newly acquired wide receiver Keenan McCardell will make his season debut tomorrow and might even start for the San Diego Chargers in their road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Chargers obtained McCardell from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two draft picks Tuesday, just before the NFL trading deadline. McCardell was the league's last holdout, skipping the first six games with Tampa Bay because he was unhappy his contract wasn't renegotiated . . . Oakland Raiders defensive line coach Sam Clancy was released from a hospital, a day after he was taken from the team's practice facility in an ambulance because of chest pains and shortness of breath he experienced during practice. Doctors told Clancy, 46, he could coach tomorrow in the Raiders' home game against the Saints, coach Norv Turner said. He was diagnosed with an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat . . . Cornerback Andre Woolfolk was added to the Tennessee Titans injury report after back spasms forced him to leave practice early. Woolfolk, a first-round draft pick in 2003, began having difficulties when he landed awkwardly jumping for a ball. He leads the team's cornerbacks with 24 tackles.

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