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© 2004 The Beast

THE SPORTS BLOTTER



By Matt Taibbi


THE LAW FOUGHT THE LAW, AND THE LAW WON

PROBABLY NO PERSON in the history of the sport has had less fun eating a $10 million salary cap hit than New England Patriots star cornerback Ty Law has this offseason. The talk-first, think-later nephew of Tony Dorsett has been in a karmic wormhole since the last minutes of the Super Bowl—or, to be more accurate, since about the middle of the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

Until then, Law had been well on hisway to cementing his reputation as the best cover corner in the NFL. And with another Super Bowl ring in sight, he had every reason to look forward to a bloodless cap-casualty release from the champs and a massive new contract from some more desperate franchise out there.

But then things started to go wrong for ol' Ty. With the Super Bowl on the line, Law uncharacteristically bit on an out-and-up by one of the slowest starting receivers in the NFL, Mushin Muhammad, giving up a long touchdown that nearly gave the game away to Carolina. Minutes later, Law again uncharacteristically let Ricky Proehl loose in the middle of the field without safety help, and nearly gave up a touchdown to him, only to be rescued by an undrafted rookie free agent defensive back named Shawn Mayer.

Only the last-minute heroics of Tom Brady, Troy Brown and Deion Branch rescued Law from Bill Buckner status in the Boston area. Despite this reprieve, Law then went out and committed an even worse act of Bucknery, going on a post-Super Bowl nationwide media tour to piss on his coach, his teammates and the city of Boston in an attempt to pry himself loose from the last two years of his contract. The Pats, unlike Law in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, did not bite on the out-and-up and decided to eat his cap number and keep him. And suddenly Law was forced to face the reality of two more years staring down the barrel of the notoriously vicious Boston media, which will certainly keep two whole columns of their front pages open every Monday next fall in case Law gives up so much as a first down to Santana Moss or Chris Chambers.

Adding insult to injury, Law was then arrested in Miami in March when he literally leaped out of his car and fled from police after a routine traffic stop. The humiliation deepened when, in an echo of the notorious Peter Warrick episode in Tallahassee, Law was actually caught on foot from behind by Miami patrolmen. This is not the sort of thing you want out there when you're trying to prove you haven't lost a step before your next multi-gazillion-dollar contract.

In the meantime, the Patriots went out and signed virtually every unemployed starting cornerback in the NFL, arming itself to the teeth in the event of a holdout. On the eve of the Patriots' recent mini-camp, Law was faced with the prospect of returning to a team that had no less than seven former starting cornerbacks on its roster. Law was literally lost in the crowd when he returned to the team; in the Boston Globe photo of Patriots showing off their new rings, Law had to stand on his tiptoes in the back of the picture, his head barely visible behind beaming safety Rodney Harrison and the massive, scowling tackle Richard Seymour.

After all of these steps Law was forced, at mini-camp, to call in local reporters for a conference and publicly suck the cock of contrition. "I want to retire a Patriot," he said, trying to smile. ESPN video footage revealed that Globe reporter Ron Borges and Boston Herald Pats writer Kevin Mannix each grew saliva-drenched fangs at least four inches long just during the course of Law's statement. He is in for a tough year.

That said, Ty finally caught a break last week, when Miami authorities dropped all the charges in the "Dade County Footrace" incident. And in a sign that the great pendulum of sports superstar privilege might finally be swinging back in his direction, Miami-Dade County judge Jeffrey Schwarz also agreed to return the $150 bond that Law paid after the incident. Law is due to earn $9.457 million in salary and bonuses this season.

Miami officials declined to say why they were dropping the charge, but Law's attorney, Joel Hirschhorn, had a theory. "This is a classic case of DWB: Driving While Black," he said.

So there you have it. It's been a tough year for Ty the football player. But on the other hand, Racial Profiling has a new champion. God does indeed have a plan for all of us.


VENGEANCE IS GONE

HERE'S A VERY WEIRD one that THE BEAST is watching closely. In what appears to be the first instance of a pro athlete making the ranks of America's Most Wanted, a former pro wrestler named Timothy Berner has become one of the highest-priority fugitives in the country after apparently shooting and killing a police officer in Sterling Heights, MI.

Berner, 33, who wrestled under the stage name "Vic Vengeance," was a suspect in a series of robberies in the Brighton/Lansing area. Police believe that he shot officer Mark Sawyers with a shotgun for the sole purpose of stealing his handgun, so that he would have a weapon he could use during the summer months (it's too difficult to conceal a shotgun ^^^ in shorts).

Berner had apparently become a crack addict in the years since he quit wrestling, and was well known to authorities in the Lansing area. A former Marine and Desert Storm veteran, he's described as a man with numerous tattoos on his forearms who likesto smoke Newports with brown filters and drink whiskey and Cokes. He also drives a red Camaro. That should narrow the search to most of New Jersey, which will help police immeasurably.

Following a June 12 broadcast of America's Most Wanted, police received 45 leads about Vic Vengeance's whereabouts. Some of those leads inspired a raid of a safe house in Knoxville, TN, but Berner had apparently already left by the time the cops arrived.

The most recent tip indicates that Berner was in Eastpointe, MI, in the company of a blonde in a late-model Chrysler Cirrus. By the time this issue hits the newsstands, he could easily be arguing with a waiter at the Stage Deli, or sitting on a bench in Bryant Park, shaking his head in disagreement as he reads a Nat Hentoff column. If you see him in these or any other poses, please call the police.


HAIL TO THE FIRST ROUND CHIEF

PERHAPS INSPIRED BY Padres hurler and San Diego legend David Wells, and perhaps not, first-round draft pick Matt Bush got his pro career underway with a bang this week. Just 14 days after the Padres took him with the first pick in the draft, the 18 year-old shortstop and his brother got into a heap of trouble at a Peoria, AZ bar with the comical B-movie name—McDuffy's. Apparently, the $3.15 million signing bonus distracted Bush so much that he forgot to get a fake ID made so he could properly accompany his 23 year-old brother into the watering hole across the street from the Peoria Sports Complex.

Phoenix area newscasts indicated that Bush was initially denied entrance to the bar, then jumped a railing to get in. In keeping with the era of snitchery, another bar patron alerted the bouncers to Bush's slippery entrance. The former Mission Bay High School star resisted ejection, reportedly biting one of the McDuffy's doormen. And, surprise of surprises, there were off-duty policemen working at the bar. They described Bush as "uncooperative" according to the AP. He was charged with trespassing, assault and disorderly conduct.

The Padres, known for contributing John Birch Societymembers to MLB ranks through the years, suspended Bush indefinitely. GM Kevin Towers issued this rambling boilerplate in response to the Bush arrest: "We want people to be real positive role models for kids and set good examples and represent not only the San Diego Padres but professional baseball and San Diego in a very professional manner, and this is not a real good early indicator of something like that." One has to wonder, what would former Padres owner and McDonald's magnate Ray Kroc say about this one? His motto "We don't dine, we eat and run" would perhaps be changed to "we don't have ID, so we jump the rail and drink and run.

 

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