Crack back on track
It’s been so long, it’s hard not to feel nostalgic. Major-college and pro sports have been agonizingly devoid of crack-cocaine controversies for what seems like more than a decade — it’s as if the sports world has moved on somehow, like it just decided to forget about crack once Lawrence Taylor left the NFL for the cast of Any Given Sunday.
Crack lately has been deemed too passé somehow, too 1987, too 21 Jump Street. The modern player prefers to bake out in his Escalade and then drive himself and a toothless stripper into a Jersey barrier. Even your average modern coke fiend has strayed from the cooked-coke delicacy — the only guys who even seemed poised to go that route of late were old-school hangers-on like Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and Otis Nixon. Not even the Cincinnati Bengals smoke crack.
Well, it turns out that reports of crack’s demise were a little premature. Justin Jackson, a wide receiver on the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team, was arrested this past week in East Knoxville on charges of selling crack cocaine. Vols coach Phil Fulmer immediately dismissed Jackson from the team, news that might lead astute followers of this sort of thing to deduce that Jackson wasn’t, er, very good. And such deduction would be accurate in this case; Jackson was a non-recruited walk-on transfer from someplace called Maryville College. So he got a little taste of SEC football and now will trade in his pads for a jumpsuit. End of that story.
Curiously enough, one of the most recent crack stories to appear in the news involved our own recent addition to the New England Patriots, Randy Moss. Just this past year, Moss’s then-agent, Dante DiTrapano, was busted after he and his wife apparently got into a crack-fueled dustup in a crappy hotel room in Charleston, West Virginia, in Moss’s home state. DiTrapano had also been busted twice previously and had even had his West Virginia home raided, with police seizing crack paraphernalia, a pair of spoons, a bunch of guns (two Magnums and a .380), and “73 pieces of crack cocaine and 21 grams of powder cocaine.” The agent hilariously told police that he and his wife were having one last party before he went into rehab.
Other famous crack vets include Taylor, Hollywood Henderson, and who could forget Dexter Manley, who ended his career steeped in a crack habit, eventually signing on to play for the Shreveport Pirates — generally considered the worst team ever to play for the American wing of the Canadian Football League. Did you even know that the CFL had American teams? Let’s just say crack is a hell of a drug.
Was Johnson tanked?
Down goes another troubled NFL player. A week after the already-suspended Pacman Jones racked up a pair of felony charges, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson — who, along with Pacman, is one of three gridiron goons to have been suspended by Roger Goodell for at least part of this year (the Bengals’ Chris Henry is the third) — was thrown off the Bears for a DUI.
To refresh the general memory, Johnson was jailed earlier this year for violation of probation on a weapons charge. Police had raided his home in December and found six unregistered guns — this after he had been busted in 2005 on weapons charges.
Tank got 60 days and did his time, then he got out in May and went on the talk-show circuit, discussing how he wanted to be a model for behavioral reform, the kind of guy everyone can look to and say, “He’s really matured,” etc., etc. Then he went out and, at 3:30 in the morning in Gilbert, Arizona, was caught doing 40 in a 25 zone. Okay, that actually doesn’t sound too bad to me. Police drew blood from Johnson on the grounds that he “looked impaired” (read: black) and he was eventually charged with driving while “very slightly impaired.” (Read: very slightly impaired and very definitely black.)
The embarrassing PR proved too much for the Bears and they canned him the next day. “He compromised the credibility of our organization,” said Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo. This from the team that produced the “Super Bowl Shuffle”?
Meanwhile, Pacman, who is an elite player, probably has one chance left before he is, contractually speaking, worthless. He’s a step removed from being Lawrence Phillips playing in Canada. In other words, he’d then be theoretically employable in North American pro sports only if he saves a crippled child (or maybe a cute hamster) from a fire.
When he’s not googling “crack vets,” Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone. He can be reached atM_Taibbi@yahoo.com.
LEADER BOARD TOP TEN
PACMAN JONES (TITANS) | multiple offenses, leaving dude paralyzed, having rocks in his tiny head | 110
LAVON CHISLEY (PENN STATE) | murder (case pending) | 99
JIMMY LEON WILSON (MONTANA) | murder (case pending) | 99
JAMES CURRY (EX–TORONTO ARGONAUT) | murder (case pending) | 99
LOREN WADE (ARIZONA STATE) | murder, second degree | 98
STEVE SWINDAL (YANKEES) | DUI | 98
RON ARTEST (KINGS) | starving Socks, domestic violence, intimidation | 95
CURLY-HAIRED BOYFRIEND (GLOBE) | making strange, heated phone calls to strangers | 90
ELIJAH DUKES (D-RAYS) | stalking, threats, weed, multiple busts, being a dick | 82
TOM PARROS (RETIRED, RAIDERS) | creepy teen sex assault | 80