Throwback shame

Nice try, Tiger. But sports crime in 2009 was ruled by the ghosts of Foxboro past.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  January 11, 2010

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Well, another year in sports crime has come and gone. And one must say that 2009 was an outstanding effort on all fronts, reaching its thrilling conclusion with the Tiger Woods business, a target-rich explosion of booze/pills innuendo, maniacal golf-club wielding, impaired driveway driving, and suggestive pancake-house waitressing.

Inspired also were some other 2009 trends, most notably nonpayment of casino debts (a category in which the city of Boston can claim its own champion, via former Celtics serial brick-hurler Antoine Walker) and the steady string of indictments of past college-football stars like Ryan Leaf, Timmy Chang, Brian Bosworth, Todd Marinovich, and Charles Rogers. There were several remarkable and unusual stories, like the inestimable Kirk Snyder home-invasion wig-out and the arrest of former Oakland A's first baseman Troy Neel, who was clipped for nonpayment of child support after amazingly hiding for years on the tiny Pacific island of Vanuatu.

But for all that, if one wanted to pick the top sports-crime trend from 2009, it has to be, has to be the remarkable prevalence of incidents (some of them very serious) involving former members of our own New England Patriots.

We've never seen anything like what happened to former Pats last year, and we probably won't again. The current regime in Foxboro has been remarkably successful in avoiding low-character guys, and the quantity of coke-and-handgun/wife-slapping/public-nuisance arrests among our heroes has been amazingly slight ever since Bill Belichick came to town (the occasional Hakim Akbar or Kenyatta Jones notwithstanding). Even the few high-profile Pat busts — like the one involving Kevin Faulk smoking weed at a Lil Wayne concert — have been minor. Hell, who wouldn't want to smoke weed at a Lil Wayne concert?

But we're not talking about the present-day Patriots here. We're talking mainly about the old, sucky, in-the-headlines-for-all-the-wrong-reasons Pats. We're talking about the Pats who got their hands cut on can openers before Super Bowls and waved their penises at female reporters ("Do you want to take a bite out of this?" was the famous Zeke Mowatt quote) and were in general such a bunch of douchebags that former Boston Herald reporter and Mowatt target Lisa Olson, who praised the Celtics and Red Sox and Bruins for their politesse, called the Patriots "Neanderthals."

Those goofball Pats came back to haunt us all in 2009. The biggest case probably involved a former undrafted linebacker named Eric Naposki, who pursued a sort of neo–Body Heat plot with a California millionaire's squeeze and ended up getting fingered as the woman's trigger man in a murder-for-hire scheme. Naposki was last seen pleading not guilty at his arraignment last month. His case has not yet been adjudicated.

Also getting corralled this past year was former Bill Parcells favorite Dave Meggett, who prior to 2009 already had a spotted criminal history that involved solicitation and sexual battery. He was arrested for rape in South Carolina in 2008, after which point he was released on bond, only to get arrested for rape again at the beginning of last year. Joining him in drawing a 2009 rape charge was yet another former Patriots running back, onetime pseudo-star John Stephens, who allegedly invited a 51-year-old woman to look at a rental property in Louisiana before attacking her.

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