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Best of Boston 2009

Cocaine blues

Jags great Jimmy Smith done in by illegal tint and an imaginary friend. Plus, the Nevada Wolf Pack goes down shooting.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  April 29, 2009


Wow. That's all I can say after seeing the mug shot of former Jacksonville Jaguars star wide receiver Jimmy Smith, busted last week on pot and crack charges. Smith is only 40 and was an active and productive NFL player as recently as 2005, when he finished his career as the seventh-leading receiver in NFL history — and tops all-time for the Jags — with more than 12,000 career yards. When he retired he still looked, you know, like an NFL athlete — shredded arms, chiseled physique, piston legs.

But the photo of Smith released this week shows a very sad, beaten old man, wearing an orange jump suit hanging like a sheet over his limp torso. He looks a little like a late-stage Rick James after 15 cycles in an industrial washing machine. In those four years of retirement, Smith must have been absolutely whaling on the yeyo. The game, as they say, appears to be up.

Smith got busted in Florida on a routine traffic stop. A highway patrolman noticed the tinted windows on Smith's vehicle and pulled him over. Smith immediately started babbling about how his license was suspended and how his lawyer had warned him not to drive. The cop then asked Smith to roll down his window, at which point he spotted bits of weed all over the driver's seat and console. He then searched the car and found more pot and some "white powder," which turned out to be crack.

Pulling out a creative take on the Dr. Richard Kimball one-armed-man defense, Smith insisted to the policeman that someone named "Jahad" had been with him previously and that all those drugs weren't his, but the other guy's.

Smith has been in trouble with the law before. Back in 2001, he was busted for driving with an open container of beer and possession of marijuana. Those cases remain open. He also tested positive for coke after another traffic stop that same year.

This time, Smith was hit with possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was released on $11,500 bond, and will probably now start the long process of circling the drain, Todd Marinovich style. It's too bad, because the guy was a badass football player. Give him 25 points, mainly for the DUI, and let's hope he doesn't fall too hard.

Wolf sent packing
More ugliness in the University of Nevada athletic department, which recently saw alumnus and onetime NBA player Kirk Snyder busted for breaking into a home recently and attacking two dentists. Ahyaro Phillips, a power forward on the Wolf Pack basketball team, got bounced from the program last week for acting like an insane person. It seems the 6-8 Phillips was getting in a girl's face at a party a few weekends back when two football players, Adam Liranzo and Jonathan Ott, came to the rescue, telling Phillips to step off. Phillips took a swing at Liranzo and missed, which was too bad for him, because Liranzo swung back and knocked Phillips out.

The story didn't end there. Four days later, Phillips sought out Liranzo (a 6-4, 220-pound linebacker) and started giving him the business for getting in his way four nights before. In the middle of that discussion, a gun fell out of Phillips's pocket. A school employee called university police and the situation was defused.

Phillips was booked on two counts of gross misdemeanor possession of a dangerous weapon on university property and dismissed from the team. Give the kid 61 points for bringing a gun to a fist fight.

Justin Miller Award update
Turns out, Penn State linebacker Tyrell Sales got nailed on a DUI at the end of March, his third arrest in as many years, but it's now just coming out. That puts him in the running for the Justin Miller Award, given annually to the player who most imperils his NFL career with a pointless pre-draft arrest. Give him 25 points, and stay tuned for our final report on that next week.

When he's not googling "jagged Jag" and "going out of business Sales," Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone. He can be reached at

Related: Busting Balls: 20 ways to improve sports, The dirty south, Husker don't, More more >
  Topics: Sports , AFC South Division, American Football Conference, arrests,  More more >
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  •   THE DIRTY SOUTH  |  May 06, 2009
    Florida footballers called for very personal fouls
  •   COCAINE BLUES  |  April 29, 2009
    Jags great Jimmy Smith done in by illegal tint and an imaginary friend. Plus, the Nevada Wolf Pack goes down shooting.
  •   SHUFFLING OFF TO INFAMY  |  April 22, 2009
    Buffalo doesn't have a counterfeiting problem — but it does need to curb its bad Bills
  •   JUST LIKE OLD TIMES  |  April 15, 2009
    Two sports-crime all stars get busted again. Plus, another Bengal drops the ball.
  •   NFL FOLLIES  |  April 08, 2009
    Pro football gets tossed around. Plus, Kirk Snyder goes to the dentist.

 See all articles by: MATT TAIBBI

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