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Going streaking

Snapping out of the annual NFL training-camp lull. Plus, Plaxico Burress gets his.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  August 12, 2009


It has been an unusually quiet week or so in sports crime, which is perhaps not unexpected, since this is the one time of year when the most arrest-prone class of athletes in America — NFL players — are sequestered in training camps and usually too dog-tired from two-a-days and running suicides to bother to punch out bar skanks or kick in police cruiser windows.

Nonetheless, it is still extremely unusual to go more than four or five days without seeing the arrest of a current or former NFL player somewhere on the continent of North America, and in recent weeks we actually had a streak of 13 full days without such an event, according to my research. That's right — it was way back on July 25 when we saw the arrest of Vonta Leach, a fullback for the Houston Texans. Leach was hosting an "all white dress" event in Lumberton, Texas, when an altercation broke out. Leach tried to break it up and, in the process, ended up whacking some guy in the face with a beer bottle and kicking him. Police arrested Leach and charged him with simple assault.

And that was it, for nearly a fortnight, until Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Juqua Parker got busted for smoking weed last week. Even worse, Parker and fellow Eagle Todd Herremans (an offensive lineman) were pulled over by the police after midnight and didn't get out of booking until 5:18 am, well after coach Andy Reid's 1 am curfew. The pair were driving around in a retro Ford van in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, not far from where the Eagles are holding their training camp. The problem is, they were driving without their headlights on and made an illegal left turn. Police pulled them over and, after a search was conducted, Parker was found to be holding some herb. Two women, age 21 and 22, were also in the van.

Not sure what Herremans's excuse was, but Parker at least could afford to stay out a little late and nuzzle young ladies because Reid had excused all players over 30 from morning practice the next day. No word yet on any discipline by the team. For our purposes, a training-camp weed arrest is about as low as one can get on the seriousness scale: give him one point.

It should be noted that even before the Leach arrest, busts of NFL players had been slowing down as training camps cranked up. Prior to the July 25 incident, the last bust was of former Dallas Cowboy/Cleveland Brown linebacker Darren Hambrick, lesser-known brother of former NFL running back Troy Hambrick, who himself is now doing five years for selling crack.

Darren, who was once kicked off the University of Florida team for hitting a player in the jaw with broken glass, has also been infamous for off-field troubles of late, twice getting busted for assaulting his girlfriend. In late July he was arrested again, this time for holding the girlfriend against her will for 11 hours and raping her — according to police, the bed actually snapped in half during the ordeal. He also took her cell phone away when she tried to call for help. Hambrick faces charges of domestic battery, sexual battery, false imprisonment, and tampering with a witness. Give this jackass 91 points, and a spot in our top three.

Plax to the future
Finally, in a development known to the whole world by now, a grand jury passed down a formal indictment of New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. The Patriot-killer will be tried on two counts of weapons possession and one count of reckless endangerment. He could get a minimum of three and a half years if convicted, and it is hard to see how he will not be convicted, since he (allegedly) drunkenly discharged a weapon into his thigh in front of about a gazillion people. The only drama in this story was whether Plax would get to play one more season before being fitted with stripes. It doesn't look that way.

Matt Taibbi can be reached

Related: Husker don't, Busting Balls: 20 ways to improve sports, More bad news for the Mets, More more >
  Topics: Sports , Sports, National Football Conference, National Football League,  More more >
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 See all articles by: MATT TAIBBI

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