We’d better hurry. If the Phoenix and its readers don’t step on it and come up with a new nickname for the suddenly oft-indicted Cincinnati Bengals, someone else is going to do it for us — undoubtedly Dan Le Batard or Stephen A. Smith — and it’s not going to be pretty. Are you ready for six months of “Slammer-natty Bungles” references from Chris Berman on NFL Primetime? I thought not. But that’s what’s going to happen if no one comes up with a fitting moniker for the team that’s now replaced the Portland Jail Blazers as the most arrested pro-sports franchise in America.
PUT A TIGER IN YOUR TANK: The Bengals (represented here by Cabbage-Patching Chris Henry) have replaced the Portland Trail Blazers as the most arrested team in professional sports.
The Bengals somewhat-officially inherited that mantle in the past month or so, following the arrests of defensive tackle Matthias Askew, linebacker A.J. Nicholson, and defensive end Frostee Rucker. The Askew arrest, which came last week, was the most embarrassing.
About once a year a major college or pro-football player is subdued with a Taser gun, usually during the off-season and usually at a bar in Florida or Texas. Ironically, last year’s entry was then–Florida State linebacker A.J. Nicholson, who police caught hiding in the bushes of an apartment complex in Tallahassee. No bar was involved in that one. Other recent Taser-ees include Jags lineman Chris Naeole (shot in a bar in Jacksonville), former Dolphins safety Gene Atkins (shot during an arrest for conspiracy to firebomb a former business associate, one of the weirder sports cases ever), and NHL super-good Bob “The Bad One” Probert, shot in Delray Beach, Florida, in a coke bust. Probert is the only athlete who ever required two shots to take him down; he must have had a good coke dealer.
The Askew case was a strange one. He had parked his car illegally in downtown Cinci and cops asked him to move it. Instead, the 300-pound lineman tried to drive away. Cops told him to stop; Askew then got out of his car, got “in a fighting stance,” and struggled with police as they tried to cuff him. When he broke away, police shocked him. He’s being charged with resisting arrest and obstructing official business.
With Frostee Rucker busted on domestic abuse charges, Nicholson busted for burglary, linebacker Odell Thurman serving a four-game suspension for substance-abuse violations, and wide receiver Chris Henry working on his fourth arrest since the end of the season (speeding and DUI, weapons possession, pot possession, and giving alcohol to two underage girls, a charge that was originally more serious), the Bengals are now openly being compared to the Jail Blazers. (ESPN’s John Clayton even wrote a column comparing the two last week.)
The crowning insult may have been the team’s decision to draft linebacker Ahmad Brooks in the recent supplemental draft; Brooks was an arrest champion in college who had to come out early because he was kicked off his college team. The Portland Trail Blazers’ decision to trade away many of their troublemakers last year (see Ruben Patterson and Qyntel Woods) clears the deck for the next flagship franchise.