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© 2004 The Beast

THE SPORTS BLOTTER

By Matt Taibbi


THIS YEAR'S WINNER

.........

One of the great things about having serious psychological problems is that it gives you the right to pick on other people who have them. The THE BEAST Blotter, and its esteemed author, claim this moral/literary exemption. And it plans on exercising it in the case of University of Tennessee tight end Victor McClure, who last week was involved in what might be this year's outstanding criminal incident at the UT recreational center.

"I have been blessed to have undergone a very thorough medical evaluation," McClure said last week, after his arrest on disorderly conduct charges. "I now have an excellent understanding of the events that transpired, and have been guided on how to best prevent the possibility of any similar events from happening in the future."

McClure didn't share with reporters just what he learned in his medical evaluation, but it must have been one hell of a diagnosis. Judging from the events described in the police affidavit, we here at THE BEAST can only imagine a few possible explanations. There's Jimson Weed poisoning, which would make sense: the hallucinogenic plant is all over Tennessee, maybe he ate some diving for a ball at spring practices. Or maybe he had just been bitten by a dog that had recently been treated with Ketamine: there is a veterinary college at UT. There's schizophrenia, of course—rare in tight ends, but a good fit according to the medical evidence. And last but not least, he's campaigning for a transfer to the University of Florida.

You be the judge. Here's what McClure did. First he approached John Hodges, an associate professor of religious studies, shoved him, and said, "Hey, Pop, you want to meet Jesus?" Then he dropped the religious studies professor and started running around the lobby of the Rec Center. As he ran, he removed his shorts and threw them in the air. Continuing his run around the lobby in his underwear, McClure then started trying to take his underwear off, but apparently had some problems. At this point, police arrived and tried to restrain him. He resisted, and as he was being taken away, he grabbed a female UT student and tried to pull her down a flight of stairs. As he pulled the girl, apparently a stranger to him, he kept asking: "Do you love me? Do you respect me?"

Officers at this point handcuffed him and took him away to jail. At jail, he managed to pry himself loose from the police, and he ran, full speed, in the style of the thwarted-escape scene from the movie Brazil, straight into a door, landing face first with a thud.

McClure was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and released on $1,000 bond. He faces disciplinary action from UT, but as he was expected to be a starting tight end next year, he will likely be ready to play for the home opener against UNLV on Sept. 5. McClure again did not disclose what his medical revelation was, but he did have a statement after his release.

"I now begin the process of re-establishing my reputation as a student at the University of Tennessee," he said. "I intend to meet every requirement set before me in my efforts to return as a respected member of the student body and the football team. I start that process today."

We'll see how this one turns out. Incidentally, it was a rough week for SEC tight ends...


SAD UPDATE ...........................

Just thought we should keep you briefed: though there was some speculation that the miserable story of Calvin Murphy might blow over and prove to be an exaggeration, a court decided otherwise last week. The former Houston Rockets star and broadcaster was arraigned on three counts of aggravated sexual assault and three counts of indecency with a child, all charges relating to his five daughters.

Murphy remains free on $20,000 bail. If convicted on all charges, he faces five years to life in prison.

Incidentally, while Murphy was indicted, another NBA broadcaster was busted for child molestation. Jack "Goose" Givens, the TV voice of the Orlando Magic, was arrested last week on molestation charges involving a 14 year-old female basketball player. Apparently, something happened in a swimming pool between those two, and they chatted about it on the internet later. Your basic digital-penetration/internet solicitation/public demise of a minor celebrity story. It's a wonderful world.


IHOP MADNESS

. ..

Peak season. They have it for fishing, they have it for tourist travel, they have it for retail shopping. And they have it for athlete crime. No empirical study has been done yet, but someday scientists will tackle this problem and find out what THE BEAST already knows: the peak period for sports-related crime is a six-week stretch from mid-June to the end of July.

This is not a coincidence. There are several compelling reasons for this phenomenon. One, this time period occurs between NFL mini-camp and NFL training camp, a notorious "One-last-chance-to-pig-out-and-drive-drunk-in-my-Escalade" window in the pro football player's professional calendar. Two: many NFL rookie draft choices sign their contracts during this time, meaning they are rich for the first time in their lives at a time when they are also idle. Three: it's between spring practices and summer workouts for Division I college football.

Four. It's summer. Folks like to get out. Have a few Margaritas with friends at the beachfront cafe. Or maybe $1,600 worth of drinks with 30 friends.

By now the story of Frank Murphy, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reserve wide receiver who beat up a bouncer this week, has reached most attentive sports fans in the country. We’re not going to spend a lot of time on this one. It’s your basic ex-carjacker-gets-sushi-and-doesn’t-pay story, and if you haven’t heard that one a million times before, you’re just not a football fan. Basically Murphy hosted an event for his children’s charity (The First Annual Frank Murphy weekend) and after the festive portion of the weekend, the "Murphytime" ball at a club called Faze 2 in Tampa, he retired with 30 friends to a bar called the Bahasa Lounge. There, he rang up a $1,670 bill, then tried to walk out on it at 3 in the morning. A bouncer named Michael Garvin tried to stop him, but Murphy apparently whipped his ass, throwing him to the ground and kicking him. Not bad for a wideout. Then police were called and the whole thing turned into a big mess. Tampa police lieutenant Mike Palmieri quipped after Murphy's battery arrest:

"Since he's Frank Murphy the Tampa Bay Buc, everybody assumed that he was good for the bill... Obviously, they found out otherwise."

Murphy has been in bad trouble before, which makes this a potentially serious offense, and not the run-of-the-mill Sebastian Janikowski-genus misdemeanor that it looks like. As a teenager he was arrested on charges of robbery with a firearm, grand larceny, aggravated battery and kidnapping, but authorities apparently granted him a Willie Williams exemption (he was a highly-recruited high school athlete at the time) and knocked all that down to burglary. The actual crime was a carjacking. He got out of that one with a $253 fine and time served.

In 1997, he went back in jail for a probation violation.

Murphy’s criminal history takes a back seat to his real contribution to Buccaneers lore. He remains the only Tampa Bay Buc to score a kickoff return touchdown, albeit in preseason in 2002. So the cosmic punishment should not be surprising.

The Bucs have had a bad couple of years since their Super Bowl run, beginning with the Dexter Jackson road rage incident in 2003, the Kenyatta Walker bouncer-bashing the same year, and finally the Michael Pittman wife-Hummer-ramming that was adjudicated this year. This spring the Bucs added one more noteworthy crime: on April 11, defensive tackle Ellis Wyms was arrested in the parking lot of an International House of Pancakes for kicking in the door of a limousine after an altercation with other IHOP customers.

Why was this noteworthy? Because it was the latest incident in yet another new sports crime phenomenon worth watching: the IHOP incident.

BEAST readers probably recall last year's entry in this category, in which Denver Broncos defensive tackles Daryl Gardener and Russell Newman, apparently driven to distraction by the slow service at the IHOP (that's not a joke), ended up beating another IHOP customer to unconsciousness in the restaurant parking lot. That was a good one: Gardener and Newman, who combined weigh about 610 pounds, were so worked up that police had to spray them with pepper spray to subdue them.

There have been others. Former Knicks enforcer Charles Oakley, at the time an Atlanta Hawk, was arrested once upon a time for beating up an IHOP busboy. Apparently the busboy said something about the Hawks having a lousy season. And Miami Dolphins placekicker Pete Stoyanovich picked an IHOP parking lot to pull over into when he was busted for a DUI in 1996.

What else spells D-A-N-G-E-R like pancakes and sports?

 

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