The Sports Blotter
By Matt Taibbi
(LITERALLY) WHERE ARE THEY NOW FILE
NFL lore is
full of stories of ex-players who are discovered ten years after taking their
last snap living under bridges, serving court-mandated community service terms
teaching tetherball to autistic children, doing 18 months in Florence, Colorado
for wire fraud, and so on. Some are cocaine survivors (or non-survivors, as
it may be, as in the case of Todd Marinovich or Chuck Muncie), some are drunks
or roid freaks, and some are just plain crazy. Most of the time, we never
hear from these people until law enforcement is forced to arrest their dangerous
interference with the normal functions of society. Years pass, and God knows
what they've been up to until one day, police are forced to put up barriers
outside a boarded-up house on the outskirts of Fort Wayne, and someone checks
the name on the mailbox, and thinks, "Hey, I remember that guy..."
not many people remember William "Jeff" Komlo, whose chief sporting
distinction to date, if one can call it that, is probably his status as the
second-greatest quarterback in the history of the state of Delaware (Rich
Gannon being number one). Still, Komlo did manage to have a long NFL career,
playing for the Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, retiring in 1983.
If he was not exactly the Dan Marino of his generation, he may yet go down
as the perpetrator of the most elaborate and most bizarre crime spree in the
annals of retired NFL players. We say "may yet" because Komlo has
not yet been captured; as of this writing, he is on the lam from Pennsylvania
authorities in connection with a series of crimes, each more bizarre than
The charge that
Komlo is on the run from is a drunken-driving charge, but even that case is
one of the more bizarre DUIs in recent memory. The case stems from an incident
on May 17 of last year in which police in Chester County, Pennsylvania discovered
Komlo's girlfriend, 39 year-old Jennifer Winters, on the side of the road,
a mile from Komlo's house. Winters said Komlo had assaulted her and left her
on the side of the road. She then said she'd seen Komlo drive by in two different
cars. Police later discovered Komlo drunk and with a bleeding forehead at
his house. He had managed to wreck two different cars, one a Toyota 4-Runner
and one a Monte Carlo. He was charged with two counts of drunken driving (an
assault charge was dropped when Winters refused to cooperate) and placed in
Komlo was arrested in Florida on cocaine possession charges. Meanwhile, police
were investigating a fire at a house owned by Komlo, who worked, appropriately
enough, as an insurance agent in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
the DUI monitors, the arson investigation, and the Florida drug rap, Komlo
continued his life as an insurance agent. But in March, his name figured prominently
in the indictment of his former Delaware teammate Peter Bistrian, who was
being charged with stealing $1.4 million from a South African stainless steel
producer. Komlo had shared an account with Bistrian, then apparently cooperated
with authorities as a witness against him. Once a football hero, Komlo now
lacked even honor among thieves.
On May 10, a
bench warrant was issued for Komlo when he refused to hook up to his monitoring
unit. Then, over last weekend, Komlo literally went up in smoke. His house,
valued at a half-million dollars, went up in flames. "The fire is suspicious,
and he is wanted for questioning," said Chester County D.A. Joseph Carroll.
in the past week have been receiving calls from their former quarterback client
from a phone with an I.D. blocker. He has been urged to turn himself in, but
has so far refused. We'll keep you posted.
says it all:
TAILBACK TO MISS TWO PRACTICES FOR BATTERY CHARGES
readers may recall the story of Booker Stanley, the Badger tailback who was
involved in a bar fight at the annual UW block party in April. Stanley had
to be subdued by four officers after he allegedly pushed a woman to the ground
and then repeatedly punched a man in the face. He was ultimately charged with
assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
school suspended him. Stanley appealed his sentence, and the new verdict was
handed down. Stanley will be "forced" to skip two team practices
on Aug. 10-11. It is hard to say whether this is the lamest punishment ever
administered by a university sports program, but if it is not, it comes close.
In a similar
story, Penn State has "temporarily" expelled junior defensive tackle
Ed Johnson. Johnson has been kicked out of the University until at least the
end of the fall semester, and will miss the 2005 season. Sounds like a tough
punishment, until one considers the crime: "sexual misconduct and confining
another person against her will." The school made a point of noting that
Johnson will be eligible to return after he spends next season feeling sore.
biggest sports crime news last week wasn’t a crime per se; it was a major-league
mental freakout, requiring police intervention, in the great tradition of
Barret Robbins, Alonzo Spellman, and Oil Can Boyd. And it took place in the
capital city of American sports crime: Tallahassee, home of the Florida State
Seminoles, a.k.a. the CrimiNoles.
The story involving
putative starter Wyatt Sexton sounds like a case of a good kid tripped up
by either LSD inexperience or stress-induced mania. Police were called when
Sexton was observed wandering in the middle of a residential street, acting
delusional and confused. When they arrived, the young quarterback loudly announced
that he was “God” or the “Son of God.” Police ended up having to hit him with
pepper spray and handcuff him, but he was not arrested. Instead, he was taken
to a hospital, where he remains under observation.
The Sexton incident
continues one of the standout positional trends in college football. Six of
the last seven FSU quarterbacks have either been kicked off the team or arrested,
the only notable exception being Chris Weinke, who after all was already 38
years old when he enrolled. Last year’s QB, Chris Rix, was once bounced from
the team for failing to take a final exam, and was also twice caught parking
in handicapped zones on campus, inspiring protests of FSU games by the disabled.
Before that, there was Adrian McPherson, who was arrested for check forgery
and kicked off the team en route to the New Orleans Saints. Back farther there
was Jared Jones, bounced from the team for the ominous “undisclosed violation”
(said to be breaking into a neighbor’s home to cook hot dogs); Dan Kendra,
caught trying to buy a rare alligator and then also caught detonating a bomb
outside his dorm; and Marcus Outzen, a bar fight specialist who was also once
arrested for the classic college football crime of punching out a car window.
Along with the
Sexton incident, the Seminoles last week were forced to deal with the arrest
of linebacker A.J. Nicholson, who was shot with a Taser gun after he tried
to flee an alcohol possession arrest. Police had him confused with another
suspect. SHE GOT HERS Goddamn, it must be tough being Darvin Ham. It’s bad
enough that you’re rapidly developing a reputation as one of the great pine-riders
of all time—a player with less chance even of seeing meaningful minutes than
such legendary NBA splinter collectors as Terry Duerod, Kurt Nimphius, and
Billy Curley. One the defending (although maybe not for long) champion Detroit
Pistons, Ham’s real job is basically to serve as a happy-go-lucky media mascot,
whom all the other players praise as being “just as important to us as Rip
or ‘Sheed.” You are there to collect rebounds for Chauncey Billups during
the pregame shoot-around; you’re there to be the brunt of funny nicknames
(Rasheed Wallace calls him the “glue guy”); you’re there to be the player
who brings his hilariously-named mother straight from church to the games
for the amusement of the reporters. Observe the following passage from a pregame
wrap from one of the finals games: He also got a helping hand from his mother,
Saginaw Mayor Wilmer Jones Ham, who was there and happy to advise Darvin.
"He asked me to pray for him. And the guys I saw on the team said 'Mama
Ham, are you praying for us?' I said I got my prayer hand up right now."
OK, so you’re
Darvin Ham. Your name is Ham. You make a millionaire’s salary to do absolutely
nothing on national television. When your team is up by thirty with two minutes
left in the game, the crowd screams for Darko Milicic. You have Mama Ham,
the mayor of Saginaw, dressed in her Sunday best and praying for you in front
of the snickering Piston beat writers.
And then, when
you get home, your wife beats you. How’s that for a life?
previously in this space, Deneitra Ham this past March became the first NBA
wife to be arrested for beating her husband when she smashed a wine bottle
over Darvin’s head during a late-night argument. Though battered husbands/boyfriends
are fairly common in baseball (hello, Chuck Finley and Scott Erickson) and
not unheard of even in the rough-and-tough NFL (Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael
was the latest, oddly enough, in a string of battered NFL passcatchers), Ham
was the first to break the mold in the hyper-macho NBA.
In any case,
Ham suffered from a case of bad timing this week, as his wife was sentenced
in the middle of the NBA finals. Just before game 6, word leaked out that
Deneitra had been sentenced to 12 months probation, 30 hours community service,
and a fine. She was also ordered to enter an anger management program for
the protection of her husband. All of this in front of the international sporting
press—on an off day, between games. Incidentally. Deneitra doesn’t work—who’s
going to pay that fine? Can you imagine that conversation at home, before
Darvin goes to work: “Honey, can you give me eight thousand dollars for hitting
you on the bridge of the nose with a wine bottle?” “Sure, honey!” Ah, domestic