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Blowin' in the wind

Ryan Leaf returns from exile. Plus, Missy Giove goes downhill fast, and Donte Stallworth gets sentenced.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  June 24, 2009

There's going to be a lot of snickering and chortling this week after former-top-NFL-prospect-turned-galactic-draft-bust Ryan Leaf got arrested on drug and burglary charges. The onetime Washington State and San Diego Charger quarterback had been working as an assistant coach at West Texas A&M when he allegedly broke into the home of an injured player last October to steal some Hydrocodone, a prescription painkiller. He then apparently fled to Canada, checked himself into a rehab program, completed treatment, and got himself a job at, of all things, a fishing lodge in Vancouver.

Authorities in Texas threatened to bring Leaf in if he didn't surrender and return to the US, so he complied and crossed the border into Washington State, where he was arrested. Leaf waived an extradition hearing, and surrendered at the Randall County jail in Canyon, Texas, on Friday before posting bail and heading back to Washington.

Leaf will forever be known for a couple of less-than-awesome traits: he is almost certainly the biggest NFL failure of all time, besting even Tim Couch, Tony Mandarich, and Ki-Jana Carter. On top of that, however, he may also be the biggest NFL asshole of all time — a near-legend thanks to his consistent habit of blaming others for his mistakes and his insane post-game blowups. Addiction can happen to anyone and compassion is warranted, but one guesses that Leaf is not going to have a lot of sympathetic ears out there — this guy blew off every chance he ever got. Give him 30 points.

Pedaler or peddler?
Here's a weird one, thanks to a tip from "Blotter" reader and cycling fan Mark Samborsky. Melissa "Missy" Giove, a former world downhill mountain-biking champion (yeah, I didn't know there was such a thing, either), was busted last week in upstate New York with a Nate Newton–esque 200 pounds of weed. Cops arrested Giove and an alleged co-conspirator named Eric Canori on a series of marijuana-related charges; DEA agents found another 150-plus pounds of weed in Canori's home, along with more than $1 million in cash.

Two comic twists to this story. One, Giove's lawyer, a public defender, is going with a story that says cops planted those 200 pounds of tree in her truck. (Good luck with that one, fella.) The other is the comment DEA agent John Gilbride made to reporters: "Drug trafficking can lead you downhill fast." Is there anything more obnoxious than a narc with a sense of humor? Anyway, 42 points for running a weed ring, plus two bonus points for Giove's absurd haircut. (Google image it.)

An odd ending
Bit of a strange denouement for former Patriots wide receiver Donte Stallworth, sentenced this past week for the DUI manslaughter of Mario Reyes, a Miami man killed when Stallworth clipped him with his Bentley earlier this year. Despite the fact that DUI manslaughter in Florida normally results in a mandatory four-year prison sentence, Stallworth somehow got off with just 30 days in jail, plus two years of house arrest (he can still play football), eight years of probation, and an "undisclosed financial settlement."

This is a tough case, because Stallworth has no history of ever getting in trouble and always seemed to be a bright, respectful, soft-spoken guy — definitely not your typical jock. He didn't mislead investigators and apparently took responsibility for the accident fairly early on in the process; he also seemed to be genuinely devastated by the whole thing. All these factors, combined with a settlement reported to be around $5 million, resulted in the state's decision to give him a soft touch in the sentencing process and put him back on the road to playing pro football.

That end of the deal has been held up, however, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Stallworth indefinitely this past week. Goodell is probably using the Leonard Little case as a guideline here — the St. Louis defensive end got just eight games for vehicular manslaughter in 1999, a light punishment that has haunted the league ever since. Look for Stallworth to sit out at least a year before being allowed back on the field, and give him 88 points, continuing the staggering run of ex-Patriots on our leader board.

Matt Taibbi can be reached

Related: NFL follies, Scammer solstice, Sports blotter: Donte's inferno, More more >
  Topics: Sports , Sports, Criminal Sentencing and Punishment, Mario Reyes,  More more >
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  •   BLOWIN' IN THE WIND  |  June 24, 2009
    Ryan Leaf returns from exile. Plus, Missy Giove goes downhill fast, and Donte Stallworth gets sentenced.
  •   SCAMMER SOLSTICE  |  June 17, 2009
    Football meets fraud in Georgia. Plus, Wazzu wackiness, and Tim Donaghy gets busted up.
  •   TASER BAIT  |  June 10, 2009
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  •   RETURN OF THE CRIMINOLES  |  June 03, 2009
    Florida State's wide-receiving corps goes deep. Plus, a Miami big man and his even bigger truck.
  •   PATRIOTS DAZE  |  May 27, 2009
    The ugly legacy of the late-'80s Pats gets even uglier

 See all articles by: MATT TAIBBI

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