Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend
 

Sept 7-Sept 21, 2005
Issue #83

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
   
Brown Nose
Buffalo News Endorses Mediocrity
Allan Uthman

Occupational Hazard
Why They Hate Us
Alexander Zaitchik

Lie of the Storm
No one could've predicted this, or something
Kit Smith
Joltin' Bolton
UN Ambassador as bad as you thought
Jeff Dean
Beast Calling!
A Tele-prayer with the 700 Club
(includes audio)

Area Man Remembers 9-11 Twice Daily
Ian Murphy

Point/Counterpoint
A debate on withdrawal

The BEAST BLOG
Buffalo in Briefs
The Sports Blotter
The Week in Sports Crime
Matt Taibbi
Page 3
Bills Season Preview
Ronnie Roscoe
Separated at Birth?
Beast-O-Scopes
Kino Korner: Movies
Voicemails
[sic] - Letters
 Cover Page

COMIX:
Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

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The Sports Blotter -by Matt Taibbi

THE TROUBLE WITH LARRY

The Lawrence Phillips saga continues. After spending a little over a week as a fugitive from justice -- fleeing from San Diego police who had issued two warrants for his arrest on domestic violence charges -- the former sensational college tailback was busted for assault with a deadly weapon in an unbelievably bizarre incident involving a pickup football game, public park, a black Honda automobile, and three freaked-out teenagers.

Having been arrested countless times for the more garden variety/Isaiah-Rider-type sports offenses -- weed, punching women, DUI -- Phillips waited for his swan song arrest to add the Mother of All Sports Crimes to his rap sheet. That's right: Phillips was busted for ramming another human being with automobile, an exclusive crime committed by just a few select individuals in pro sports history.

Typically, sports-rammers choose wives or girlfriends for their victims. The most celebrated ramming case probably involves Michael Pittman, who a few years back rammed a car containing his wife, his son and his babysitter with his Hummer. The Pittman incident came just a year after Pro Bowl tackle Victor Riley, then of the New Orleans Saints, was arrested for ramming a car containing his wife and infant daughter in Overland Park, Kansas.

The latter incident caused Riley to face the get-tough discipline of NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who suspended Riley for a whole game as a result of that incident. "The league took one game from me and a one-game paycheck," complained the 350-pound lineman at the time.

The only prominent non-football rammer is Jose Canseco, who once rammed his wife, Esther. The 1992 incident resulted in a sentence of community service and counseling.

In the Phillips case, the former Nebraska star was playing in a pickup football game in Exposition Park in Los Angeles when he apparently got into an argument with some of the players. No one knows yet what Phillips, one of the great running back talents of the last fifteen years -- a man once compared to Earl Campbell -- was doing playing in a pickup football game with a bunch of LA teenagers. Nor has anyone made public just what it was that got Phillips upset that afternoon.

All that is known so far is the information in the police report. And according to that, Phillips got into an argument with some of the players, left the field, then drove back onto the field in a black Honda. He then drive straight into a group of players, striking three of them, two of whom were aged 14 and 15.

The kids were taken away with non-life-threatening injuries. Phillips, meanwhile, was finally apprehended following a car chase after the incident.

Phillips ended up being charged with a handful of felonies-- seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of child abuse, and one count of hit and run. Moreover, the black Honda used in the assault had been reported stolen a week before. If Phillips ends up being charged with the theft of the car, that will put him in even more exclusive criminal company. Only a handful of NFL players have ever been charged with stolen-car beefs; the list includes Juran Bolden, Mark Ingram, Tamarick Vanover and Bam Morris. Of those, only Ingram appears to have stolen a car off the street for his own use; the other crimes involved rings of stolen cars.

If convicted, Phillips faces up to 13 years in jail, and it looks like he will do serious time this time around. If that happens, it will put to an end one of the most elaborate criminal careers ever attributed to a major sports figure. In a world where many athlete-crimes are of the harmless variety -- immature young men given way too much money too early, and left unsupervised near too many nightclubs -- Phillips was a vicious serial woman-abuser who really should have been stopped earlier. He once dragged a woman down a flight of stairs by her hair, and allegedly also choked another to unconsciousness. In the former incident, his college coach, Tom Osborne, was apparently so upset by Phillips's behavior that he "almost" didn't let him play in the Fiesta Bowl. That was par for the course for Phillips, who made it to his 30th birthday without facing real punishment, despite having been charged with over a dozen felonies in his young career.


NOT ON KANSAS ANYMORE

Speaking of major college football stars who push women down flights of stairs...

Bruce Ringwood, a former Kansas City high school football legend and current member of the University of Kansas team, was arrested last week in conjunction with an assault he allegedly committed at, of all things, a Kenny Chesney concert.

According to police, Ringwood got into an altercation with a married couple, both aged 45, during the middle of the concert. Ringwood reportedly punched the man in the face over and over again, and then, when his wife stepped in to intervene, punched the woman and pushed her down a flight of stairs at the Kemper arena.

As a high school player Ringwood was a Kansas City linebacking legend; he was moved to fullback at Kansas, where he was set to spend a redshirt year.

Kansas coach Mark Mangino immediately suspended Ringwood indefinitely after the incident became public. Anyone want to take bets that the suspension will end after Ringwood's redshirt year?


HAIL NATE NEWTON

There's no doubt that different sports inspire different types of drug habits. Baseball, for instance, is clearly a game for the upper consumer. Lawrence Taylor and Chuck Muncie notwithstanding, a baseball player is far more likely to be an insufferable, degenerate coke freak than a basketball player or a football player.

Our national pastime is weirdly suited for stimulants. There's lots of downtime in the clubhouse before the action starts, unlimited access to diet soda, and plenty of opportunities in between innings to have those fevered conversations about Hitler or your mother; beyond that, no one thinks it's strange if you spend five consecutive hours frantically chewing on something. Plus, with baseball, your heart is far less likely to shoot out of your chest, Hank Gathers-style, if you do a few lines or eat a handful of greenies before trotting out to man right field.

Among basketball players, meanwhile, the only prominent coke users are the ones who finish their careers belly up on court in front of 15,000 stunned spectators with bite sticks in their mouths. Since the days of Bias, Gathers and Reggie Lewis, ballers prefer marijuana.

Weed use in the NBA is usually of the Damon Stoudamire variety: carry a little stash wrapped in foil everywhere you go, blaze up in the hotel suite with a couple of thong-wearing hood rats after the game, then spend the afternoon playing late-generation Play Station games while you get your hair braided by strangers and your personal tattooist copies the Chinese symbol for the word "DOMINATE" on your left ankle. The hoopster's weed use is all about rest and relaxation. It may be combined with acupressure and a flute of Cristal, but it never involves machine guns or panel trucks.

For some reason, it's only in American football that you encounter these stories about huge bales of Humboldt weed found by police hidden in a used F-150 driven by your favorite NFL team's former backup inside linebacker.

The archetypal supernatural-quantity-of-marijuana story is, of course, a football story -- the Nate Newton fiasco, in which the portly former guard for the Dallas Cowboys (who once said he'd considered having his jaws wired shut to cure his French Fry addiction) was caught twice within six weeks with huge duffel bags full of weed -- once in lonely St. Martinsville, Louisiana with 213 pounds, and then again in Dallas, while on bail for the first offense, with 175 pounds.

But the Newton case was no freak occurrence. Stories of either retired or struggling NFL players using their bonuses or booster money to finance marijuana rings for purely monetary reasons are weirdly common. There's something about football that activates the John Holmes chromosome in men -- that weird instinct that inspires those who once made it big on natural gifts alone to try to take the easy road to big money once the gravy train stops.

Newton isn't even the most egregious offender of this lot, incidentally. That honor belongs to former Arizona Cardinal fullback Dennis McKinley, who in 2002 was charged with being the leader of a Phoenix drug-trafficking ring; in that arrest, two tractor-trailers, 11 guns, $400,000 in cash, and some 1,500 pounds of marijuana were seized.

Other football players who have had the phrase "pounds of marijuana" attached to their names in print include running back Bam Morris (caught with six pounds; charged with attempting to distribute 225) and former standout Arkansas Razorback tackle Jermaine Brooks, who was once caught with ten and a half pounds of weed and over $16,000 in cash stashed in his dorm room.

Now, in just the last few months, we've had two more giant-weed-shipment/football stories. The first came a few months ago, when Reuben Houston, a promising starting cornerback for Georgia Tech, was arrested in Atlanta for intent to distribute some 94 pounds of marijuana. Then, last week, former Dallas Cowboy and Minnesota Viking corner Derek Ross was arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana after police found 25 pounds of weed in his rented Chevy Impala. Ross, who played in 13 games last year for Minnesota and had no interceptions, was caught in the style of Newton's first bust -- in a dank rural hole near a state border, in this case lonely Walhalla, South Carolina, near the Georgia State line.

Ross joins a comically long line of former Cowboys who have been arrested on marijuana charges. The 'Boys are now probably the league's official cannabis squad -- with Newton and Ross occupying two of the more celebrated arrests, and former guard Mark Stepnoski being the only open legalization advocate among current and former players.


AT IT AGAIN

Well, it's come to this-- finally. In a late-breaking story that may or may not be resolved by the time this article goes to print, former Nebraska Cornhusker standout and great NFL bust Lawrence Phillips -- a former #6 overall pick -- is officially a fugitive, wanted by San Diego police on two felony assault charges stemming from incidents involving his girlfriend.

Phillips likely bests J.R. Rider, Bob Probert, Mike Tyson,and Daryl Strawberry as the most incorrigibly criminal major sports figure of this generation. He has been charged with more than a half-dozen assaults against women and been involved with dozens of other crimes. He had the talent to be the next Eric Dickerson, but right now is probably under a bridge somewhere, sharing a bowl of soup with Todd Marinovitch. We'll keep you posted on his progress.

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