“Do this research if we don’t have a season—watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game.”
–Ray Lewis, May 2011
Ray Lewis has never been shy about voicing his opinions, and he wasn’t when he made that statement to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. Some scoffed, wondering how having free time was conducive to committing misdemeanors and felonies. But, sure enough, the future Hall-of-Fame linebacker was right in some ways.
From the time Super Bowl XLV concluded until now, there have been thirty arrests among active NFL players (this obviously excludes Reno “Regular at a Premium!” Mahe). For a league that boasts about 2,000 active players at a given time, thirty arrests seems relatively tame. However, seeing that these arrests were crowed in a less-than six month time frame, it does seem a bit troubling.
That is, if some of those crimes weren’t so bizarre and laughable.
Mere DUIs and misunderstandings, step aside, as I present fifteen of the most unusual crimes that NFL players have been involved with in this past off-season.
All I can say is, if Ray Lewis is right, the lockout is thankfully over.
(NOTE: All subjects in this article are innocent until proven guilty. For each case, the link to the article reporting the arrest is given.)
Primary Charge: Public intoxication
Date: February 12
“Legedu” is the Nigerian word for “boss”, which implies that he would be quite controlling. Certainly he was shortly before Valentine’s Day, when Naanee refused to turn around when he was headed in the direction of an active crime scene in Indianapolis. Naanee began to curse the police, and the cops noticed the wideout smelled of alcohol. Naanee, after being told he was under arrest, tried to pull away, where he was pepper sprayed and handcuffed. Adding to the charming nature of the incident, Naanee told the cops he was going to sue them, using the whole “Do you know who I am?” schtick. Several weeks later, Naanee, a restricted free agent heading into the lockout plagued summer, was not tendered a contract by the Chargers.
14. JOHNNY JOLLY (DE/GREEN BAY)
Primary Charge: Intent to distribute codeine
Date: March 25
What doesn’t make Johnny “jolly”? How about missing your team’s Super Bowl run because you were suspended the entire season for previous arrests in possessing 200 grams of codeine? Jolly applied for reinstatement to the NFL just five days after Cheesetown hoisted their fourth Lombardi Trophy, but the big man was about to bottom out further. The Packers veteran was busted in an early morning traffic stop in Houston, where first the cops determined that his license was suspended. That prompted a search of the vehicle, in which 600 grams of codeine were discovered. That’s a bit much for one person, and since codeine is a vital ingredient in “purple drank” (a Houston invention), Jolly was slapped with the intent charges. Doesn’t look like Roger Goodell will be rubber stamping those reinstatement papers any time soon.
13. AQIB TALIB (CB/TAMPA BAY)
Primary Charge: Illegal use of a firearm
Date: March 29
Consider Talib the ultimate defender. Except this time, for this March 21 incident, Talib wasn’t defending his end zone from the offensive onslaught that wished to encroach upon it. Aqib’s sister, Saran, was in the midst of an altercation with her boyfriend, when she called Aqib and their mother for help. Going to help your sister in a domestic dispute is a perfectly natural action. Bringing a firearm and attempting to pump several bullets at her boyfriend, however, can only create more problems. Shannon Billings, the boyfriend, is no angel, apparently (having been arrested for two previous incidents involving Saran), but shooting at him and trying to pistol whip him (says Billings) just drags you down to that level. Talib surrendered to police eight days later, and was indicted in March.
12. CEDRIC BENSON (RB/CINCINNATI)
Primary Charge: Assault
Date: July 17
Cedric Benson, through his share of issues, has been a powerful running back, especially in 2009 for the Bengals. While his compact frame has left bruises on a number of would-be tacklers, it’s the pain he doled out off the field that has Benson in hot water. Clavens Charles, a roommate of Benson’s, took a hellacious beating, reportedly from Benson’s hands (damage seen here). The argument is alleged to have taken place over the two men’s living arrangements, while Benson’s attorneys are claiming an extortion attempt on the part of Charles. Maybe if Mike Brown wants to shut Carson Palmer up, he should tell Benson that his quarterback plans to extort him?
11. GARRETT WOLFE (RB/CHICAGO)
Primary Charge: Assaulting a police officer
Date: May 22
Wolfe has found himself buried on the Bears’ depth chart behind the likes of Matt Forte and Chester Taylor over the last handful of seasons, but it was the young running back that dug his own pit this past spring. After refusing to pay a $1,572 nightclub bill, Wolfe became aggressive with the bouncers, and police were brought in to quell the skirmish. Wolfe allegedly struck one of the officers, but the running back himself didn’t leave the brawl unscathed, as his mug shot clearly shows. The diminutive former-third round pick has not lived up to expectations, and it’s doubtful that the Bears will see any reason to keep Wolfe around, even on special teams, where he’s lived the past couple of seasons.
10. KING DUNLAP (OT/PHILADELPHIA)
Primary Charge: Disorderly conduct
Date: March 4
Dunlap is a 6’9” behemoth that stands out in any Philadelphia Eagles‘ huddle. It doesn’t take much for the towering figure to be noticed in a crowd, but the same can be said for the circumstances of his arrest, which looks to be a sore misunderstanding. In Nashville, Dunlap was seen driving his Cadillac Escalade onto the sidewalk outside the Bridgestone Arena, and refused to move, even when ordered by the cops. Dunlap explained that he was waiting for his father to come outside, and his father is wheelchair-bound. After being given several chances by the police, who informed Dunlap that drivers were not permitted on the sidewalk at the arena’s plaza, the big man refused to move and was arrested.
9. MIKE VRABEL (LB/KANSAS CITY)
Primary Charge: Theft
Date: April 4
Vrabel is recently retired, and has a great legacy of being a linebacker, as well as unlikely tight end, for Bill Belichick’s most dominant New England Patriots. He’s also been a voice for the NFL Player’s Union in Tom Brady‘s anti-trust lawsuit against the league. So vocal was Vrabel, that apparently, he needed to wet his whistle. That’s why Vrabel is accused of stealing beers from a deli area at a casino in the gambling capital of Florence, IN. Once one of Belichick’s trustiest veterans on the defensive side of the ball, Vrabel was forced to defend himself from a possible six month to three year imprisonment for rather silly reasons. Wonder if ol’ Mike was caught in the act by the SpyGate cameras?
8. KENNY BRITT (WR/TENNESSEE)
Primary Charge: Unlawful resistance
Date: June 8
When you think of Hoboken, NJ, you think of the legendary Frank Sinatra, the face of the crooning and boozing Rat Pack. What you probably don’t think of is a Titans wide receiver playing a childish game of “I don’t have anything” with police, and then being arrested for it. Britt caught the eye of a pair of Hoboken cops after the cigar he was smoking had the smell of marijuana emanating from it. Before the cops could begin full confrontation, Britt crushed the cigar in his hand to try and discard evidence of the still-illegal drug. Britt refused to open his hand, and even pulled his arm away from the officers, before they finally arrested him. And hey, if you love Kenny Britt arrest stories, stay tuned. We’re not done with him yet!
7. BRANDON UNDERWOOD (CB/GREEN BAY)
Primary Charge: Domestic assault
Date: June 16
Ahh, the old fashioned “my husband is not a monster” case. Underwood was on the winning team in Super Bowl XLV this past February, and received his ring in June. Hours later, the cornerback was apparently in the mood to acquire more jewelry, shoved his wife, Brandie, to the floor, and ripped her necklace off. Maybe Brandon was a big fan of Andre the Giant and wanted to re-enact the Hulk Hogan “cross ripping” from 1987? In any event, the couple filed for divorce in May, and were still living together at the time of the incident. In fact, the couple is STILL living together, and going through counseling. Brandie played the “I don’t want him to get in trouble” card, and the Underwoods seem determined to put all of this behind them without further incident. What actually led to the necklace ripping is a mystery, unless you buy into my Hulk/Andre theory. “Three years….is a looooooong time to be married to a cornerback, Ulk OH-GIN”
6. PACMAN JONES (CB/CINCINNATI)
Primary Charge: Disorderly conduct
Date: July 10
Compared to his 2007 involvement in the “Make it Rain” incident that saw a stripper get beaten and a security guard get shot, Pacman’s recent arrest is relatively tame. Seems that Jones and wife were out to celebrate her birthday at a Cincinnati bar, and Pacman, easily corruptible soul that he is, got a little tipsy and began shouting obscenities, including at a handful of police who attempted to quell the situation. As Pacman persisted, the cops moved on, and Pacman resisted their more forceful tries at settling him down. Jones was ultimately taken in for the disorderly part, with the resistance as icing on the cake. Seems pretty tame, but what makes it memorable is Jones’ mug shot, which is something you don’t see every day.
5. LOUIS MURPHY (WR/OAKLAND)
Primary Charge: Illegal possession of drugs
Date: April 3
Murphy’s a good late round fantasy pick, or at least a nice emergency signing should one of your wideouts get hurt. Sure enough, it seems Murphy has a game or two in which he really rises to the occasion. Turns out, there’s a good reason for that. After being pulled over by Florida police on having blaring music, a search of his vehicle found a bottle of pills that Murphy had no prescription for. The pills in question? Viagra! Why would a 23 year old man, an athletic one at his supposedly virile peak, need wang pills? Whatever the reason, Murphy also attempted to resist arrest, and it took three officers to finally subdue him. I hear Viagra is quite effective, but so good that you’ll fight three cops for your right to not be separated from your organic erector set? Who’da guessed it?
4. KENNY BRITT (WR/TENNESSEE)
Primary Charge: Theft by deception
Date: February 9
More from our good friend Mr. Britt. In January 2010, Britt’s comrade, one Albert Robinson, was arrested on hindering and weapons charges, and Britt convinced two bail bond companies (with classic names like Boss Bail Bonds, and Bails Bails Bails) to pony up the cash to free Albert. They did, on the condition that Britt pay them back. Given that there’s a thirteen month gap between the friend’s arrest and Britt’s charges, did you correctly guess that Britt DIDN’T pay them back? In the end, Britt paid up $12,500 to settle things. Given that Britt’s an NFL wide receiver on a rookie salary, maybe he just needed to work off the debt with a few game checks? Yeah, maybe.
3. KENNY BRITT (WR/TENNESSEE)
Primary Charge: Lying on a driver’s license application
Date: June 29
Sometimes a crime sort of makes sense, like a DUI or a justifiable assault. But lying on driver’s license applications? That’s right, not once, but twice. It’s not known what Britt lied about particularly, but it was bad enough to get him booked in a Nashville prison before being released on $2000 bail. While the charges are mere misdemeanors, one has to wonder what, exactly, Britt could have lied about. Did he forget his eye color? Did he lie about his height? Did he lie about prior arrests? Was he creating an alter ego for purposes of scoring an alternate license, possibly a fake ID? Regardless, Britt has a hearing slated for September 13 on these particular charges. Kenny Britt is officially the Mike Tyson of the NFL: nothing he does will ever surprise me again.
Primary Charge: Sexual assault
Date: February 13
When the Redskins inked Haynesworth in 2009 for over $100 million, they knew they were getting the stomping feet of a temperamental beast. What Daniel Snyder may not have realized is that Haynesworth’s hands were equally threatening. A restaurant server at a Washington DC hotel accused the Gurode-Killer of sliding his creditcard between her breasts, and then fondling one of them. Who knew that a boob had a keypad in which one could enter his PIN? Haynesworth’s apparent mistake may prove costly, as a jury on April 26 indicted “Fat Albert” on the assault charge. Haynesworth faces six months in prison, which is one novel way to avoid playing in a 3-4 scheme.
1. KENNY BRITT (WR/TENNESSEE)
Primary Charge: Attempting to elude police
Date: April 12
Well, Kenny already took three other spots in the top ten, so why not save the throne of stupidity for him? Anyway, on a quiet Tuesday afternoon in Bayonne, NJ, Britt and a passenger were clocked doing 71 MPH in a 50 zone in Britt’s Porsche. As the police attempted to pull them over, silly Kenny floored the gas pedal and the chase was on. Britt finally pulled off the highway and parked on a local street, with he and his passenger quickly emerging, only to deny that they were even in that car upon police questioning. Turns out Britt’s buddy was carrying some of that 4:20 leaf, and that led to the duo trying to lose the federales. In the end, Britt pled out reckless driving charges in June. Guess the Porsche WAS his after all. And one has to wonder how many miles are logged on the odometer from trips to Bud Adams’ office to explain each ensuing arrest.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.