Friday, May 9, 2008

Sports Q&A: NFL Criminal Minds

By Jeffrey Boswell

Alphonse from Brooklyn, NY writes, "Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson and Indianapolis Colts receiver Marvin Harrison have both recently had brushes with the law. Should NFL commissioner Roger Goodell be surprised by any of this?"

This isn't surprising to Goodell; it's just another day at the office, although the fact that Pacman Jones, nor a Cincinnati Bengal, nor a former guest on Michael Irvin's radio show was involved has to be considered progress. NFL players face a long offseason, full of boredom and lots of idle time. Add to that mix millions of dollars of disposable income, and these players are bound to do stupid things.

Benson was arrested last Saturday for boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest on Lake Travis near Austin, TX. Allegedly, police stopped Benson for a random check of his 37-foot, fully-loaded yacht, the Bear Necessity. On board, police gave Benson a series of sobriety tests, which they claim he failed. When police attempted to handcuff Benson, he resisted, and was pepper-sprayed.

Benson claims he offered no resistance, and to prove it, he offered to show the cops game film of his 19-carry, 42-yard performance against the Chargers in Week 1 last year. When Benson attempted the "Do you know who I am?" line of defense, police quickly responded by saying, "No, but you look enough like Pacman Jones to warrant an arrest." Benson was then booked, fingerprinted, and had his mug shot taken, which had Nick Nolte feeling pretty good about himself. Upon searching Benson's craft, authorities reportedly found 8,000 kilograms of Minnesota Vikings, stripper paraphernalia, and loads of untapped potential.

Benson has claimed he wasn't drunk, wasn't belligerent, and has vowed to fight the charges. Does he have a chance of winning? Not likely. Let's see. On a lake, in a boat, and you have some form of dreadlocks? In today's NFL legal climate, that's pretty much a guilty plea. In Benson's defense, though, it does sound like the police were guilty of a fair bit of profiling. According to Benson, he's been stopped practically every time he's been on that lake in his boat. Apparently, a dreadlocked black man on a 37-foot yacht is suspicious, even after he's been stopped multiple times before and checked out just fine. Would a short-haired white man in that same boat have been stopped? Probably not. Would an older, bearded white man with an eye patch and a wooden leg on that boat have been stopped? Only if he was an NFL player.

Harrison's role in an April 29th shooting in Philadelphia has yet to be determined. Harrison has claimed innocence, but sources say he was involved in an argument and a shooting near Playmakers, a bar owned by Harrison. Gee, that's surprising. A shooting at a bar named "Playmakers?" That's a surprise. Is there a bar named Playmakers that hasn't been the site of a shooting?

Ballistic tests have indicated that shell casings found at the scene came from Harrison's gun. Just days before, representatives speaking on behalf of Harrison said he was not present at the shooting, nor was his gun used. Well, it looks like Marvin's been caught in at least one lie, with more likely to come. Harrison's been accused of being "pea-headed" before; now we can safely assume that he's "pea-brained," as well. It looks like his route running is much more precise than his ability to suppress evidence of his involvement in a crime. If Harrison shows up for a police lineup in his No. 88 Colts jersey, we'll know he's guilty and dumb.

The gun in question was found in a bucket at a car wash also owned by Harrison, which happens to be only half-mile from his bar. The gun was said to be one of at least 25 owned by the Colts receiver. Hey, there's nothing wrong with being ready for Armageddon, but I doubt it's flashpoint will be a Philly bar/car wash. In that final, conflagrant showdown, will the side of good be able to overcome the forces of evil, which will no doubt be numbered by an army of idiotic NFL players?

It may come as a surprise to many that Harrison is capable of such behavior. After all, he plays with Peyton Manning, whose clean-cut image is sterling enough to cover an entire team. But Harrison's been in trouble before. In 2005, he was accused of choking a teenager who had asked for his autograph. The charges were ultimately dropped, probably because Harrison could afford a brilliant lawyer who argued that the teenager was into some pleasure-seeking form of auto-erotic asphyxiation/autograph-hunting hedonistic perversion. You know, the kids are into that these days.

So, where does this all leave Commissioner Goodell? Well, we all know there a red phone under a cake cover in his office that rings when NFL players go bad. Which is often. If Goodell has "the talk" with Harrison, it may be the first one he's had with a player with a Super Bowl ring. That is, unless Harrison has melted it down to fabricate some magic bullet that can kill werewolves, prosecutors, or those pesky, chatty witnesses.

Goodell has probably tired of these meetings with players who have strayed from the ranks of good citizens. Soon, it may be time for Goodell to hire a full-time employee to handle these meetings. The measures the NFL has taken to deter this type of criminal behavior have not really put a dent in the amount of crimes. So Goodell can expect to be seated across from a future batch of cretins with little or no respect for the integrity and honor in the game. In between signing the thousands of official footballs he's responsible to authenticate, it's becoming the bulk of his duties.

Get Your Questions Answered!

Do you have a question or comment? Then send your question or comment along with your name and hometown to [email protected]. You may get the answer you're looking for in the next column on Friday, May 23rd.

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