Athletes—they’re just like us! Read enough sportswriting, and you might think it was all based on the conceit of the reliably effervescent US Weekly feature. There are the columns about how our heroes aren’t drama queens; the chronicles of their good-luck totems; the choreographed goofiness of Peyton Manning. Even the charms of Riley Curry—and she is quite charming—work because she’s so normal, a kid who wants to dance, take a nap, and have all the attention of her dad, who happens to be an NBA point-scoring assassin.
One downside of athletes being just like us is they get arrested too. Public relations departments don’t like talking about that part. Lucky for you, I do!
That’s how a few days after the New Year I found myself cleaning out my hard drive, organizing all the police reports and other documents I’d requested for Deadspin in 2015. Is that not how you spend your Sunday evenings? Anyway, I needed to make some space for the 2016 police reports and court records when I realized how just how much crazy shit from 2015 I forgot.
It’s easy to assume that collecting and distributing police reports is about demonizing athletes, but I don’t see it that way at all. I see them as unguarded and honest, thankfully free of the work of marketing departments. Yes, sometimes they describe moments that are horrifying and difficult to talk about. But the logical alternative—acting as if athletes can or should somehow embody all the best qualities of humanity while never suffering any of its flaws—makes no sense. Athletes (and fans, and owners) actually are just like us—they’re people. Sometimes they do good, sometimes they do evil, and in between are a whole lot of fuck-ups.
So here are my top 10 police reports of 2015. Okay, a few of these technically aren’t police reports, but in spirit they’re all part of the same canon. The selection was highly unscientific—a polling of my brain and hard drive alone. Think of this as a moment, before you bemoan 2016 as the worst year ever, to remember that humankind’s ability to be cruel/insufferable/stupid is one life’s few true constants.
This is as honest as it gets, both in terms of an athlete getting in trouble and his reaction to it. Running back Bernard Pierce was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving while impaired, and speeding back in March. According to the police statement of probable cause, Pierce asked the officer if his arrest could be kept “off the books.” He said, “I’m getting cut tomorrow.”
The cop did not not keep the arrest off the books, and Pierce was cut before I even got the blog up.
Diddy having a chat at South by Southwest. I made the same face when I heard about his helicopter parent ways
Technically, this is not a police report because they aren’t public record in California (an exemption to public record law that I truly believe to be bullshit). But you can’t leave this off a list. It has an annoying, formerly relevant and now just stinking rich rapper acting like a helicopter parent, a former misbehaving Jets coach, and a kettlebell. A kettlebell!
This might not be what the NFL marketing department has in mind when it says football is family, but to me the whole mess is quintessentially football.
Pena told an officer that she and fellow fighter Joshua Gow had been in a fight with 20 people in front of a bar. Gow was left with a bloody face, so they went to Zola’s because “she knew the owner and she was going to get Mr. Gow cleaned up,” the report said. That’s where majority of the reports pick up, at about 2:20 a.m. Sunday at Zola’s.
Really, it’s the rubbing the bloody face in the window that gets me.
Time to class up the list with some white-collar crime! The classic Ponzi scheme! On a more sobering note, it’s a story that’s easy to see happen again and again and again—folks with what sounds like a great idea for making money that ends up robbing athletes of their income instead.
In this case, one of the accused Ponzi schemers was former NFL cornerback Will Allen. The federal indictment said from 2012 to 2015 Allen and his business partner, Susan Daub, raised money from investors by telling them “that their money would be loaned to athletes at a high interest rate, in most instances after being pooled with the money of other investors.”
That happened, sometimes. But the pair also used money for other stuff, the indictment said. In classic Ponzi fashion, part of the money went back to the investors, who were told it was return on the investments. And part of it was for their own personal benefit, the indictment said. “In total, ALLEN and DAUB collected from investors millions of dollars more than they loaned to athletes,” court records said, “and then spent much of that money on themselves and other business ventures.”
The indictment listed six athletes who received fictitious or oversubscribed loans from Allen and Daub, including one guy described in an email as “the [NFL team’s] best player.”
“I’m the quarterback of Ohio State... there’s nothing you can do?”
Technically, this is police video. But I like to think of this as a reminder that sometimes the best details aren’t in the official narrative. I also enjoy the reminder that our college athletes are perhaps not as humble as all those press releases suggest.
Honorable mention of a similar vein: P.J. Williams To Cop In DUI Arrest: I Played For FSU And Wanna Go Home
Who says it’s only athletes who can have really, really bad ideas. Or in this case, take something too seriously. In this case, a man was leaving the NFC Championship Game while the Seahawks were trailing 19-7 (they later mounted a comeback, only to lose the Super Bowl).
According to the police report, the man told cops he was outside the stadium when the would-be attacker asked him why he was leaving the game so early. The suspect appeared excited, talked about all the money that the ticket had cost, and told the man “he should go back inside the stadium,” the report said. Then the suspect brandished a knife, which he held to the man’s stomach.
The man backed away, tracked down police, and pointed out the suspect to officers. Police said they recovered a Stanley multitool with several bladed attachments from the suspect’s belt pouch. Officers said the suspect looked “very intoxicated,” smelling of alcohol and slurring his speech. After he was read his rights, “he apologized numerous times and said words to the effect of, ‘That was a stupid thing I did?’”
Honorable mention because its great but I never got the police report: Giants Fan Arrested For Allegedly Trying To Burn Down Enormous Buccaneers Flag
Chesney performing at the iHeartRadio concert. If you see this man about to start a concert, run the other way
The ingenious Tim Burke fired up a recording of the police scanner traffic during the Kenny Chesney concert at Lambeau. For one night, Lambeau was not a hallowed hall of football. It was big ol’ pile of groping, shitting, and puking.
Among the crimes called in by officers:
- 7:52 p.m. — A male wearing cutoffs harassed other concertgoers for turning him in to cops for sneaking in booze.
- 7:56 p.m. — A highly intoxicated male shits his pants. Multiple calls.
- 8:04 p.m. — A highly intoxicated male is “pickin’ fights with everybody.”
- 8:06 p.m. — A highly intoxicated person is “puking and falling on people.”
- 8:30 p.m. — “Belligerent fan spilling beer.”
- 8:57 p.m. — An intoxicated male is foaming at the mouth.
- 9:43 p.m. — A male party has a nose injury and gets tased.
- 9:48 p.m. — A huge fight breaks out near the Lambeau pro shop.
- 10:17 p.m. — A male is groping women.
You stay classy, Green Bay.
The Albuquerque police diagram of the crash. Jones was identified as vehicle three.
What gets me about this one is Jones acts like anyone who gets in a crash and thinks it’s his fault—he grabs his money and runs. He was in such a hurry that the police report said he left behind a marijuana pipe with marijuana inside as well as MMA paperwork from Nevada that included his name.
The cops wrote in their report that they called a number on that Nevada paperwork and left a message asking for Jones. He didn’t call back.
When I was a newspaper reporter, my mom struggled to read my stories. I remember one time she tried to read one article, about a 13-year-old girl whose dead body was found wrapped in a blue tarp and discarded by a garbage bin, but admitted she had to stop. I’m not sure if my mom made it past the jump. She told me, “Why would someone do something like that?”
The why was because a teenage boy had agreed to pay Necia Gibbs $50 for sex and she mocked him afterward. The boy, Jason Hartley, told police in a videotaped confession that Necia then turned violent when she found out he didn’t have the $50, the Sun Sentinel reported, and he killed her trying to fend her off. Hartley was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
I’m older now and realize that’s not the why my mom spoke about on that article. She wasn’t concerned about motive; she worried that such horror happened at all. This year offered no reprieve. There were bloody fights among fans, misguided attempts at violent revenge, elder abuse, the downward spiral of Lamar Odom, drunk driving, rape, and too damn much domestic violence. And before you decide the owners and executives are somehow better, don’t forget the son of the Broncos owner was charged with domestic violence in 2015.
I know its easier to see all that and look away, especially in sports, an industry sustained in part by providing distractions from bad news. But ignoring the issues here, like ignoring them in every other part of life, doesn’t make them go away.
Dammit, I’m ending this list on a moment of hope. Because that’s what this man gives me, hope.
When a random (and possibly intoxicated) Syracuse lacrosse bro sucker punched two random cookie-store employees one night in March, one man intervened. Here’s what Big Jim Whitcomb told The Daily Orange happened next.
“As soon as he punched her in the mouth, I came out from around everybody and punched him in his face and knocked him out,” Whitcomb said. “And then as soon as he went down on the ground I went over and I was going to football his face. I swear to god, I don’t care, I was going to football his face.
“I don’t believe in woman beaters, I don’t believe in a man putting his hands on a woman.”
Police got there and arrested the lacrosse bro, Hayes McGinley. As for Whitcomb, here’s what he said he told police.
“I turned around and looked at the cop, I said, ‘You want to arrest me, here I am, I don’t give a shit, arrest me,” Whitcomb said.
He was not arrested.
All photos via Getty