Sports blotter: pellet gun edition
A lot of sports crime makes sense. We all understand that, given a large pool of college linebackers cranked up on cheap steroids, the statistical likelihood of fist-through-the-bathroom-wall incidents, drunken fights with cops, and cell phones thrown at the heads of shrieking ex-girlfriends who have shown up at the dorm to “talk things over” is high. Channing Crowder pounds too many Mai Tais and ends up running down the streets of Gainesville ripping the side-view mirrors off of parked cars: makes sense. Sebastian Janikowski arrested for just about anything: makes sense. When I wake up in my apartment in the middle of the night, I expect to see Cecil “The Diesel” Collins standing on my girlfriend’s side of the bed, respirating audibly and holding a sandwich and a disposable camera.
HE SHOOTS: After the alarming number of athlete pellet-gun offenses, should colleges post signs like this one in the stadium weight room?
These things we expect. What makes comparatively little sense is the extraordinarily high number of arrests of pro and major-college athletes involved with pellet and BB guns. There are about four of them every year, but it seems to me like the number will rise this year. In recent weeks alone we’ve had two. Nearly a month ago, James Kennedy, a freshman on the baseball team of Rider University in New Jersey, was busted for having a pellet gun version of an AK-47; Kennedy was outed by a pizza-delivery woman who spied the weapon on the job, thought it was real, and called in a police raid.
The other incident happened last weekend, when Tennessee Volunteer freshman defensive back Marsalous Johnson apparently waved a pellet gun out of the window of his car at an off-duty Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer while driving on I-40. The redshirt freshman was charged with aggravated assault and promises to be an interesting test case for coach Phillip Fullmer, who promised a “zero tolerance” policy for such incidents recently.
Two years ago the Volunteers made a run at the title of worst-behaved college football team in the country, racking up some 20 criminal incidents in the space of about 16 months in 2004–2005. One rash of assaults by Vol players left one student requiring the insertion of a metal plate in his head, another needing his jaw wired shut, and a third needing staples to repair a head wound. The situation got so bad that coach Fullmer started passing out Vol-yellow-colored wallet cards that read THINK! on one side and contained a list of questions on the other, inviting players to ask themselves if the behavior they are considering is appropriate.
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