Shuffling off to infamy

Buffalo doesn't have a counterfeiting problem — but it does need to curb its bad Bills
By MATT TAIBBI  |  April 22, 2009

090424_whitner_main
PICKED OFF: Buffalo safety Donte Whitner was busted raising hell at a Cleveland night club, the third time a Bill starter has been arrested this off-season.
Tasering Donte. Sounds like a movie title, doesn't it? Starring Michael Pitt, Derek Luke, and Hillary Swank. With George Dzundza and Michael Caine. An IFC special, about a washed-up cop (Dzundza) who mistakenly Tasers an angry young student (Luke) from the ghetto, only to team up later with the boy's heart-of-gold teacher (Swank) to teach him not only to love Shakespeare, but to stand up to the mean, rich bully (Pitt) at the exclusive prep school in the white suburbs, the secretly racist headmaster (Caine) of which wants to revoke Donte's scholarship. The thing basically writes itself.

The actual story, though, is about Donte Whitner, the starting safety for the Buffalo Bills, who last week became the third Bills starter this off-season to get arrested. You might recall numbers one and two: first there was Ko Simpson, Whitner's partner in Buffalo's defensive backfield, who was arrested on New Year's for hindering a police investigation at a night club in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He reportedly refused to leave the car of his friend, who had been pulled over for speeding in the parking lot, and hurled insults at the cops, shouting "I'm Ko Simpson with the Buffalo Bills. I am worth millions!" Then there was Marshawn Lynch, the Bills' starting running back, who was arrested on felony-weapons charges in February in a suburb of Los Angeles. Lynch recently racked up a three-game suspension from the commissioner, which perhaps wasn't the strongest punishment, but will keep him off the field for the opening-week match-up against the Patriots.

Now there's Whitner, the former Ohio State star, who was arrested after an altercation at a Cleveland night club. According to police, Whitner tried to force his way "in an aggressive manner" past police into an area where they had told him not to go, saying "My cousin's out there and they've got guns." He then broke free from police who were restraining him. That's when they introduced Whitner to their friend Mr. Taser. Whitner was taken to jail, booked on aggravated disorderly conduct and resisting charges, and then released on bond.

The poor Bills have had a bad run and are creeping ever so slowly in the direction of Cincinnati Bengalhood. Next week, when they select the 11th pick of the draft, there will surely be a premium on getting a guy who is not likely to be arrested.

Making matters worse for the Bills, their backup running back, the weirdly effective Fred Jackson, has begun a campaign to win himself a contract by pressuring the team to invest in "character" players such as himself. In the wake of the Whitner arrest, Jackson's agent, Jerry Douglas, blasted the Bills for claiming to value character while leaving their good guys without contracts. "Public statements are great as long as you mean what you say," he said. (That's going to go over great in the locker room.)

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