in the ‘Cuse.
By Matt Taibbi
BEAST readers, this was a great
week in sportscrime. After one of the quietest weeks on record at
the end of May, June opened with an explosion of idiotic and bizarre
athlete behavior, each incident more ridiculous than the next. Let's
go to the videotape, starting with the remarkable tale of a goon
who wouldn't go down:
Howe. Richard. Esposito…Probert? If you think one of those kids is
not like the other, you're not a true hockey fan. Bob Probert,
the muttonchops-bearing enforcer who put in 17 violent seasons
with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, is one of the
most storied names in the sport, the real-life human incarnation of
the Hanson brothers. He finished his career as the fifth all-time
leader in penalty minutes with 3,300, which for those of you who are
counting is roughly 2.291 full days in the box over his career.
And Probert might have finished as the all-time penalty leader, had
he not begun preparing for his post-hockey career in actual jail.
During his career he was arrested six times for driving under
the influence, including several truly noteworthy DUIs. In
1985, he was arrested for DUI and fleeing and eluding a police
officer. 1986: drives drunk, crashes his Monte Carlo (his Monte
Carlo, dear readers) into a utility pole in Windsor. In 1989,
Probert was caught driving drunk across the Canadian border.
When police searched him, 14.3 grams of coke fell out of his underwear.
The coke possession landed him in jail for three months.
years later, after overcoming a temporary suspension from the NHL,
a deportation hearing, and a brief controversy over the seemingly
lenient treatment of him by Canadian and American authorities, Probert
crashed into a car in Detroit. His blood alcohol level was
an astonishing 0.31, ranking him among the all-time drunkest athlete
drunk drivers (the completely inebriated John Abraham was a mere
0.26 in comparison). When police came to arrest Probert, he muttered,
"Just charge me with the usual, man."
his retirement, Probert insisted he was cleaned up. He'd had a daughter
and became something of a respectable citizen, even enjoying a brief
career as a broadcaster for the Blackhawks. But just months into his
broadcasting gig he dropped out, citing substance abuse problems.
Then came the latest chapter: West Palm Beach, FL.
week, police in that sunny town noticed Probert driving in the
wrong direction down a downtown street. He was also leaning out
of his window and shouting at four men along the side of the
road. He stopped, got out of the car, threw the gloves off and attempted
to get in a fight with one of the men. Police intervened. Probert
was ordered to the ground, but refused. So they shot him with a
Tazer gun. He still didn't go down. So they shot him two more
times! And he still didn't go down! Police did ultimately manage
to get the cuffs on him, but Probert was never fully subdued. At the
police station police didn't fingerprint him right away for fear
of taking off his cuffs. Later in the evening, Probert on his
sheet listed his alias as "The Bad One."
was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting
arrest and disorderly conduct. At this writing, he was
being held without bail in Palm Beach. It will be a miracle if he
gets out of this one without hard time, meaning an end to the career
of one of the most storied criminals in sport. Stay tuned.
IT BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
a news flash you don't hear every day: FORMER NFL PLAYER ARRESTED
FOR BANK ROBBERY.
that's correct. Former Fresno State star wide receiver Tony Woodruff
was arrested last week in Fresno on charges that he was an accomplice
in a robbery of $7,000 from a Citibank in downtown Fresno in
late May. Woodruff's partner in crime, 64 year-old Charles Smith,
was also arrested for two other bank robberies that cleared
$680 and $1,200, respectively. Woodruff has not yet been charged with
a ninth-round choice of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1982, had a short
career that also included a stint with the Tampa Bay Bucs. He had
talent, but it appears he may have been a little lacking in
the "mental aspect of the game," as was demonstrated
again in the Citibank robbery. In that incident, Smith allegedly held
up the bank with a pellet gun, took the money and appeared
poised for a clean getaway via a car driven by Woodruff—except
that Smith left his wallet at the scene of the crime. Police
were therefore able to be waiting outside the elevator next to Smith's
hotel room when the two returned home. Apparently both robbers were
too excited about their haul to notice what they were missing.
has been busted before. In 1998, he was sentenced to five months in
a halfway house and three years of supervised release for welfare
fraud. In this once-common ex-athlete criminal scheme (put to
rest by welfare reform), Woodruff and a female accomplice who worked
in the welfare office wrote over $103,000 in phony AFDC checks
and split the proceeds. Woodruff was on the verge of finishing his
time obligations for that offense when he was busted on cocaine and
meth charges. At the time of that second bust, it was discovered that
he had only paid back $100 of the $100,000 in restitution that
that's why he was robbing banks.
one of the weirder announcements you will ever see a police
department make, Syracuse police last week told the media that the
mugshot of Syracuse Orange strong safety Diamond Ferri did not show
evidence of police abuse, but in fact was "just a bad picture."
was arrested in late May for the usual college football offense of
beating to unconsciousness an academically-inclined student
in the parking lot of a nightclub. After the incident, police
released a photo of Ferri which appeared to show his eyes looking
in different directions, leading to speculation that police had
knocked his eyes out of whack.
reporters in Syracuse tracked Ferri down this week and found his eyes
to be back to normal.
has not yet disciplined Ferri. In an unrelated act, he was the team's
second-leading tackler last year.