"Totally coup, yo."

The Blotter-The week in sports crime.

Feb

03

by

By Matt Taibbi

OFF-KEY SEASON

Man, has it been a tough season for Keyshawn Johnson. First he gets deactivated for the year by a team dying for help at wide receiver. Then he tries out as a TV commentator and sucks with unusual fervor, virtually guaranteeing he wouldn’t be invited on as a playoff commentator. Then he drops hints on TV that’s he’s interested in signing with New England, Baltimore or Dallas—and the news doesn’t even make the inside pages of the sports sections in any of those cities.

Then, this past month, things just went from bad to worse. Seems Keyshawn has had a little disagreement with his ex-wife, Shikiri. Specifically, he appears to be upset that she started dating another guy, one John Mahannah. Burgeoning bitterness turned to action on Jan. 9, when Keyshawn, at a family funeral, approached Mahannah and told him, “I’m going to catch you and beat you to a pulp.” Me-Shawn had to be restrained—get this—by other mourners.

After that, Keyshawn continued making phone threats against Mahannah. According to a lawsuit filed by Mahannah on Jan. 14, Johnson made repeated threats, including threats against his life. On one of the messages submitted in a recording offered in the lawsuit, Johnson again repeated, “I’m going to beat you to a pulp.”

As a result of Mahannah’s lawsuit, Johnson must now stay at least 100 yards away (the length of a football field? Coincidence?) from Mahannah and his children until the order can be reviewed by an Oakland judge on Feb. 6.

The lawsuit was filed on the same day that Keyshawn was robbed at gunpoint in Berkeley. Seems Keyshawn became the latest loudmouth wide receiver to have a bad incident with a cell phone. He was on the phone outside a Berkeley barbershop when he was held up. Key gave up his money and his jewelry, but got away unharmed. He might find free agency harder to get through unscathed. Can anyone say, “Arizona Cardinals third receiver Keyshawn Johnson”?

BAD NEWS IN BRONCO-LAND

Quietly, as though it had been pulled by cats, the bad-news bandwagon in Denver has rolled into the limelight. Never mind the team’s on-field struggles; never mind that high picks like Willie Middlebrooks, Ashley Lelie and Deltha O’Neal have turned into staggering busts, while high-caliber free-agent signings have similarly exploded. Never mind that an increasingly steady stream of high-profile players have begun bitching in public about Mike Shanahan (Eddie Kennison, Daryl Gardener). More important is the increasing number of off-field incidents surrounding the team. This year, the Broncs have suffered through “pancake-gate,” the notorious attack on unsuspecting civilians in the parking lot of an IHOP by Gardener, as well as the latest outburst by serial domestic-choker Dwayne Carswell.

Now it looks like the bad news has spread to the most consistent area of the team—the offensive line. The Broncos O-line has always had its share of problems in terms of being fined, with one of the most famous incidents being the $5,000 “slime fine” slapped on Mark “Stink” Schlereth, Gary Zimmerman and Brian Habib in 1997. Center Tom Nalen has been fined repeatedly for chop blocks, and linebacker Brian Cox even once threatened to break Nalen’s leg. But while the Orange O-line has always has a reputation for playing dirty, it has also always been at the top of the league in terms of effectiveness, producing four different 1,000-yard rushers (Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Clinton Portis) in the last eight years.

Now that may be in jeopardy, as the Broncos inexplicably let star O-line coach Alex Gibbs go to Atlanta. And right on the heels of that decision—widely blasted in Denver—the Broncos watched as one of their key linemen, tackle Matt Lepsis, got busted for a DUI. Lepsis will be going to court on February 23 to face drunken driving charges

LET MY 49ER PEOPLE GO

The San Jose police department released the police report for the Jeff Garcia DUI arrest, and it is one stupendously weird document. The scene described by one “Sgt. Celano” seems almost too surreal to have actually happened.

Synopsis of the scene: on Jan. 14, at 1:50 a.m., Garcia was spotted as he drove unsteadily down E. Fernando St. in San Jose. He was driving a white Lincoln Navigator and he had three passengers: two chicks (Meredith Freeman and Virginia Vilotti; maybe those rumors aren’t true) and a dude, one Eddie Garza. Eventually he was pulled over in a Jack in the Box parking lot. As he did, two male passengers from a car following Garcia jumped out and shouted: “Garcia wasn’t driving! It was the girl!” Meanwhile, police pulled Garcia out of the car and observed the following symptoms: “red watery eyes, dilated pupils, rebounding pupils when exposed to light, the smell of alcohol on his breath.” Said Garcia in response to questioning: “I have a buzz.”

Now here is where it gets weird. In the supplement report filed by Sgt. Celano, he describes arriving on the scene and finding Garcia struggling through the field sobriety test. “Garcia used his arms for balance and was unsteady.” Meanwhile, Celano said, a group of 15-20 people formed in the parking lot and began chanting Garcia’s name. By this time, Garcia had taken his breathalyzer test and scored a very impressive 0.237%, placing him in Ingrida Sabonis territory. He was shoved in a patrol car. Around then, Sgt. Celano began to be concerned about the integrity of the crime scene. We quote verbatim from his report:

The crowd that formed at the drive started to chant, “Let Garcia Go!” At 204 hours, I requested that SJPD to responded [sic] to our location due to the fact that there were only two officers and the crowd had the potential to turn into a riot and may try to lynch Garcia.

Garcia was subsequently taken away to the safety of the police station, where he began a new career as the internet whipping boy of soon-to-be ex-49er Terrell Owens. It was not clear from the report whether Garcia is a constant threat to be lynched in the Bay Area; one would have to assume so from Celano’s report.

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