Mirror, mirror

Smashing up cars in South Alabama; Plus, it's that frisky NFL draft time of year
By MATT TAIBBI  |  April 28, 2010

1004_car_main

Virtually every year, like clockwork, a college-football player is arrested for getting blasted and then running around town vandalizing cars — a crime that almost always involves ripping multiple side mirrors off of multiple automobiles.

The most notorious practitioner of this crime might be former University of Washington fullback Zach Tuiasosopo — brother of ex–NFL quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo — who did $6800 worth of damage in 2003 by smashing car windows with his fist after a party cruise in Seattle. Tuiasosopo had to offer an “Alford” plea because he couldn’t plead guilty — he was too drunk to remember the crime.

That $6800 mark now sounds like it might be in jeopardy. University of South Alabama defensive back Zach Brownell was arrested last week on 22 — you read that right: 22 — counts of third-degree criminal mischief, plus one count each of disorderly conduct and public intoxication. The 22 charges refer to the number of vehicles Brownell is said to have damaged during a Tuiasosopoid drunken rampage through Mobile.

Residents in the USA campus area awoke on April 23 to find an assortment of smashed-in car windows and ripped-off side mirrors. Even one of Brownell’s teammates, Chris Pugh, got victimized.

“I came outside and my car and all the other cars had side mirrors knocked in,” said Pugh, “and I had baseball dents all in the front of my car — just completely wrecked it.”

Give Brownell — who was suspended indefinitely for the Cool Hand Luke act — 22 points. Weirdly enough, we almost never see the mirror-ripping thing twice in one year, so let’s keep a watch out to see if this is it for 2010.

Draft dodgers
Another odd phenomenon that crops up annually: as the NFL draft approaches, a great many of the college-football players not eligible to go pro suddenly decide it’s a good time to start getting arrested. It’s almost like the absence of attention on underclassmen spurs these kids on to party and act crazy.

The list of such offenders (and offenses) over the past few weeks is long and strange. One of the funnier cases involves Minnesota Golden Gophers linebacker Gary Tinsley, who was arrested for the somewhat unusual crime of trying to outrun police on a moped. Tinsley and some other dude were reportedly drunk and driving their mopeds the wrong way down a one-way street in Minneapolis when police spotted them and gave chase.

Tinsley refused a breathalyzer, which led to a blood test. He ended up getting hit with a smorgasbord of charges, including fleeing officers on a vehicle and on foot, driving while intoxicated, and reckless driving. Give him 23 points on our list.

A still sillier crime involved four players from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette — sophomore quarterback Blaine Gautier, sophomore cornerback Rodney Gillis, junior linebacker Devon Lewis-Buchanan, and junior safety Chris Richard. These poor bastards were apparently growing eight weed plants on their balcony, and some snooping jerk in their building dimed them out to the cops.

The players were charged with suspicion of growing marijuana and all of them save Richard were released on $20,000 bond. They were suspended indefinitely from the UL-L team, which is a little extreme if you ask me. Eight plants seems like a personal-consumption operation — do you really have to suspend these poor clowns? One point each, under protest.

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