Illegal use of hands

Sports blotter: "Personal foul" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  February 27, 2008


Fabian sings a tune
It’s been a slow year so far for defensive-back arrests — nothing like the breakneck pace for secondary-related crime we saw in 2007 and, to a lesser extent, 2006. Moreover, it’s been a while since we’ve had a boilerplate “girlfriend neck-grab” NFL arrest of the Brad Hopkins/Ryan Moore/Irving Spikes genus.

No Moore. Oakland Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington was busted this past week at his home in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, when police came to break up a dispute. Once on the scene, cops discovered telltale “red marks” on the neck of Washington’s live-in girlfriend, who claimed that Washington had grabbed her from behind. According to reports, they were quarreling because Washington had been “hanging out with other girls.”

There is probably no more lasting and persistent cliché of sports-crime than that of “red marks” being found on the neck of the football player’s/hoop star’s/batting champion’s wife or girlfriend. In fact, just before Washington’s arrest, we had another such case, this one involving Houston Texans wideout Jerome Mathis. In that incident, police rushed to the Mathis home on February 15 after a 911 call; Mathis’s pregnant common-law wife, Erica Smith, claimed Mathis had thrown her onto the bed and begun “choking her with his hands.” Police reported “seeing a red mark below her jaw line.”

Mathis has had a tough year. First, he ended the season on injured reserve. Second, he got in trouble in December, when four of his pit bulls escaped and wreaked havoc on his neighborhood. One woman claimed she was chased into her house by the dogs, while another couple claimed they had to jump onto the roof of a parked car to escape them. Police intervened to help one woman and fired pepper spray at the dog, which had no effect; the officer then fired a gun near the animal, causing it to run away.

Mathis was issued citations at the time for harboring un-vaccinated animals.

“Red marks” have made several appearances in recent years, including incidents involving of Seattle Seahawks lineman Sean Locklear, Indiana University wide receiver James Hardy, and famous NBA choke artist (in a literal sense, mind you) Latrell Sprewell, who a few years back was accused of choking a woman during consensual sex on his yacht. (All three cases, incidentally, ended with no charge or a dismissal.)

Give 70 asshole points to Washington for the dom-assault arrest, and 75 to Mathis — the latter an early candidate this year’s “Randy McMichael Award” for attacking a pregnant woman.

Sad story continues
Readers of “Blotter” may recall the agonizing tale of former Arizona Cardinals star Luis Sharpe, a Cuban native who was nearly deported in 2000 following a series of drug convictions. Sharpe was allowed to remain in the US after vowing to clean up his life, and was intermittently successful, though he was arrested again in 2004 and sentenced to a deuce for drug charges.

Back in June of this past year, Sharpe appeared in the news for another reason — his daughter Leah was murdered in Phoenix. The former football player appeared on local TV begging for justice, then briefly disappeared from view. He turned up again a few months later, when a local adult-bookstore owner turned in Sharpe for smoking crack on his premises.

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