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Highway to hell

Sports blotter: "Not-so-free agents" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  April 23, 2008

Hooker highway
Everyone around these parts knows the Patriots will be looking hard at an unimpressive group of college linebackers in this weekend’s draft — and that if they don’t find what they’re looking for among the Curtis Loftons, Jerod Mayos, and J Lemans of the world, they may have to once again dig through the free-agent scrap heap.

Who’s left out there? Well, Takeo Spikes is allegedly still available. But he’ll be expensive, so . . . who’s out there and cheap?

How about Keith McCants? The former SEC linebacking great should be available, after being Tasered on March 28, following a bizarre loitering arrest in Prichard, Alabama. McCants, 39, who over the years has been busted for coke and theft charges, in addition to being jailed for a brief detour into paper-hanging, was apparently panhandling in the company of a pair of prostitutes on US 45 when police got up in his grill. The former Tampa Bay Buc then threw a pair of pliers and a crack pipe at the cops, followed by a screwdriver — at which point the police responded by “debilitating him with bolts of electricity,” as the Alabama Press-Register put it.

McCants survived the attack and police later filed misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest, loitering, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The McCants story should serve as a cautionary tale to those draftniks who think teams like the Pats, Jets, and Rams can’t miss with their top-10 picks, or that much-ballyhooed linebacker prospects like Vernon Gholston or Keith Rivers can’t eventually go, as it were, up in smoke. McCants was looking like the next Mike Singletary when he entered the draft in 1990, and ended up going fourth overall to Tampa Bay. He signed a $7.4 million contract. Now he is hanging out on the shoulders of highways with bruise-covered hookers, hurling crack pipes at patrol cops. Give him 43 points.

Isn’t the draft fun?

Fugitive hotel
UTEP basketball star Stefon Jackson’s name came up several times this past week in connection with some serious extracurricular weirdness.

Jackson is a legit draft prospect who’ll get some love from NBA scouts as a jumpshooting two-guard. He averaged almost 24 points a game as a junior and is hovering in that 30th–60th-pick range among NBA hopefuls, which means he was heading toward a tough decision this spring.

But he might want to go back to school now that he’s been arrested on hindering-prosecution charges. According to the FBI, Jackson misled authorities about the whereabouts of his cousin, Willie Harden, who was wanted in connection with a shooting outside Pittsburgh that left five people hurt.

Harden was arrested in El Paso this past week, apparently while enjoying a burger at a Wendy’s near campus. Jackson insists he did not mislead the authorities when he told them he had not seen Harden for two weeks. But here’s the weird part — when police arrested Jackson on the hindering beef, they found another fugitive in his apartment, this one wanted on a murder warrant out of Jackson’s home town, Philadelphia.

Not the best signal to potential draftors — getting mixed up with a pair of A-felony fugitives. That’s almost enough to hand Jackson this year’s Justin Miller Award, given to the athlete who most mangles his draft stock with a pre-draft arrest. But that’s still premature, as we have nearly a week to go before the NFL draft, and months before the NBA ritual. In the meantime, we’re giving him 31 points.

What is it with those Pacers?
From Stefon Jackson to Stephen Jackson. Noted Boston “Sports Guy” Bill Simmons has been making a lot of jokes lately about Stephen Jackson, most recently when a reader wrote in to ask if S-Jax was the “best NBA player to have ever discharged a firearm in a public place?”

Two things that should be noted:

1) Captain Jack was arrested for discharging his firearm (shooting wildly into the air in a parking lot early in the morning) while a member of the Indiana Pacers.

2) This past week, another former Pacer, reserve point guard Keith McLeod, was busted for shooting out the window of his Land Rover in a Denny’s in Canton, Ohio, at 3 am.

What is it with the Pacers? Between Jackson, Ron Artest, Jamaal Tinsley, and now McLeod, there’s been a whole lot of felonious fuck-ups on that franchise. Anyway, McLeod was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and improper handling of a firearm. Give him 40 points for that one. Any bets on the next current or former Pacer to get collared? My money’s on Mike Dunleavy.

When he's not googling "McCants, you hear me knocking" and "Hey you, get off of McLeod," Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone. He can be reached

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