QUIET BEFORE THE STORM: Belichick dropped cornerback Jeff Burris without explanation last year. Turns out it was a good choice.
So maybe that's why
There have been a lot of mysteries surrounding the Patriots in the Bill Belichick years, not surprising given the intense effort the team (read: Belichick himself) puts into maintaining airtight clubhouse and organizational secrecy in general. A Pats player might see his patella sheared off during a game, fly across the field, and hit a cheerleader in the mouth, and on the injury report two days later all you find out is that he's doubtful for the next game, because of "leg." Unlike other teams, where wide receivers do their complaining openly, in front of reporters, about not getting enough touches, on the Patriots all the idiotic in-house stuff happens in a way that passes mostly undetected.
Thus, we never really knew what Hakim Akbar did to piss off Belichick, never found out what Kyle Brady did (if he did anything at all), never learned the full story on guys like Steve Martin, Jonathan Sullivan, Fernando Bryant, Leonard Myers, and others who went the revolving-door route on the roster. Only occasionally, like when Pepper Johnson decides to write a book, or when some news report trickles out long after the fact, do we get some hint as to why this or that player didn't cut it in Pats-land.
Example: Jeff Burris. Anyone remember Jeff Burris? He was once a starting cornerback for the Colts, back in the days when "starting cornerback for the Colts" was a synonym for words like "consistently ineffective" and "posterized" and "total pussy." This was a while ago, back in the pre-Marlin Jackson, pre-Kelvin Hayden days. Burris left the Colts in 2001, played for the Bengals for a while, and then — this was after the Pats' most recent Super Bowl win — Belichick managed to get Burris to sign a one-year deal for less than a million bucks. It was considered something of a coup around here. We thought we had another bargain-basement pickup on our hands.
Then a funny thing happened: Burris didn't show up for training camp, and was quietly released. Nobody knew what happened.
Well, last week we got a little peek into the private life of Burris. He was busted for a very odd DUI in Carmel, Indiana — caught driving not only drunk but backward. . . not to mention west in an eastbound lane. This is a bad-driving trifecta perhaps never observed before, even among pro athletes: driving drunk, backward, and in the wrong direction. At the same time.
Why did he do it? Here, it might be useful to quote Belichick, when asked why Burris didn't report to training camp that time: "He made a personal decision." He sure did. Gotta give some extra points for this one — the usual 25 for a DUI, plus 10 more for the unusual circumstances.
Not really a football story
Okay, so this doesn't really have anything to do with sports, but it does sort of relate to football (the soccer variety), so it seemed worth a mention. This past week the United States did what it very seldom does — prosecute a US citizen for bad behavior abroad. The defendant was Charles Taylor Emmanuel, son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, prosecuted in Miami for crimes committed in Africa.
You have to do something very serious to be considered a violent psychopath in Liberia, and Emmanuel — a Boston native, by the way — qualified. Nicknamed "Chuckie" and the commander of something called the "Demon Forces," Emmanuel was convicted of, among other things, forcing prisoners to play something called "stone football." Basically, he would make people play soccer barefoot, using huge rocks as a ball, until their feet bled out or broke.
Emmanuel became the first US citizen to be convicted under a law that prohibits Americans from committing torture overseas. Although born in Boston, he grew up mostly in the Orlando area, about nine miles from the Universal Studios theme park. He fled to Africa in 1997 and would later be accused of such things as burying people alive and forcing prisoners to hold boiling water in their hands. Incidentally, after an early arrest in Florida in 1994 for robbery, a psychiatric evaluation revealed that he had "anger-management problems." Shocker.
John Daly rocks
Shortest blotter entry of all time: John Daly arrested in North Carolina for being passed-out drunk outside a Hooters. World not surprised; three points for not having a bikini top between his teeth upon discovery.
When he's not googling "cornerbackward" and "fucked-up Chuckie," Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone. He can be reached email@example.com.