Camera shy

Mike Tyson pops the paps. Plus, Rocky Top hits bottom.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  November 18, 2009


Haven't we heard this story before? Someone runs into Mike Tyson in some godforsaken place — at a store in Harlem, or a hotel bar in Brooklyn, or a parking lot in Greenwich Village — and then ends up on TV for the next week, boasting Elmer Fudd–size welts on his or her head and recalling the surprisingly painful beating he or she just took.

In some cases, it's been pretty clear that the bruised "victims" of Hurricane Tyson had it coming. In 1988, poor Iron Mike was browsing idly at Dapper Dan's in Harlem when Mitch "Blood" Green heard he was around and decided to stalk Tyson for an out-of-the-ring rematch. In other instances, though — one, in which a lot attendant tried to get between Tyson and a girl he was reportedly harassing, comes to mind — the victims appear just to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The most recent case looks like it falls into the former category, the operative words being "looks like." It seems Tyson, his wife, and his 10-month-old child were in LAX airport, on their way back from an overseas publicity tour, when they ran into a paparazzo named Tony Echeverria. Authorities don't know exactly what happened — the two men have told wildly conflicting tales, with both accusing the other of assault — but one version has Echeverria attempting to follow Tyson into a bathroom and take pictures of him there (hope he brought his wide-angle lens, if some reports are to be believed).

What is certain is this: at the end of the scuffle, Tyson looked unharmed except for the still-insane tattoo covering the left side of his face, while Echeverria looked like a cartoon character with a toothache, appearing in pictures with his head almost completely wrapped in bandages. He would later take off the dressings to show reporters a knuckle-shaped dent in the middle of his forehead. The pictures might normally arouse sympathy, except for the fact that Echeverria is a paparazzo. Let's just say it's kind of too bad that Tyson's skills have eroded so much over the years. I mean, he even left the guy's ear in one piece.

Both men are pressing charges, and for Tyson this is serious, since he could end up back in jail if a court finds this violates his probation. We're giving Mike one point, not for hitting a paparazzo — it's kind of amazing that doesn't happen more often — but for doing it in an airport, where there were probably cameras. You have to have more self-control than that, champ.

Tennessee dreams
Poor Lane Kiffin. After putting up with the insanity that is Al Davis, the former Raiders head coach escaped Oakland with his dignity intact and landed a pretty damn good job, running the University of Tennessee football team. Halfway through his first season in Knoxville, things seemed to be going well — until last week, when he got the news that three of his freshman players have turned out to be the dumbest criminals on Earth.

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