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VOL. 129 | NO. 183 | Friday, September 19, 2014
Don Wade

Don Wade

Athletes Behaving Badly

By Don Wade

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Make us laugh. That’s all we ask. Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston gets cited for stealing $32 worth of crab legs from a Publix: That’s funny.

Winston gets suspended for the first half of the upcoming Clemson game after shouting an obscene sexual phrase on campus while reportedly mimicking an Internet video: Not funny, and really stupid.

Lately, of course, it’s the stupid – and the despicable – making all the headlines. The quick list just of NFL players not making us laugh incudes:

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice decking his then-fiancée in a casino elevator in a Candid Camera moment; he’s now unemployed.

Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson being charged with beating his 4-year-son; he’s now on the sidelines.

Arizona running back Jonathan Dwyer being arrested in a domestic violence investigation that involves a 27-year-old woman and 18-month-old child; Dwyer also has been deactivated.

Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy, a Briarcrest High School graduate and former Ole Miss Rebel, being found guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill his girlfriend. His appeal is to be heard in November and, like Peterson, he’s on the league’s exempt list. Which means he still gets paid – in excess of $13 million.

Nothing to laugh about there.

So prevalent is the athlete behaving badly that I feel compelled to direct you to a one-stop shop for tracking this mayhem: www.arrestnation.com.

I do not make this up. The good folks at arrestnation.com have arrest records dating back to 2010. You can look them up by sport, league or school.

Here’s what they say about themselves: “Arrest Nation is a journalism, media, and blogging website where the arrests, legal citations, and charges against people in the sports world are recorded in one convenient location for the purpose of educating the public about those in sports who fail to exercise ethical, legal and pro-social behavior.”

In 2014, this is an essential public service. Of course, everybody has to eat, so if you want to see the older arrest details you can pay by the arrest or buy a “day pass.” Although it would take more than a day to look through all the transgressions.

As I type this, Arrest Nation had five Sept. 17 postings. They included a former NFL player’s DUI; the report on Dwyer; the report of a University of Texas basketball player being arrested for trespassing at the campus where he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend (the cause of his first arrest); the arrest of a West Virginia cornerback for allegedly grabbing a woman by the neck and pushing her to the ground at a nightclub; and a Longwood University basketball player’s arrest for striking a student from another college because he didn’t like how a dance-off contest ended (OK, the dance-off part is worth a snicker).

But most of the news these days is just sobering. Which is why I felt the need to Google “athletes behaving badly.”

Remember Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon, who had the physique of a man always first to the post-game spread? He went after the Italian sausage mascot with a bat in the nightly sausage/hot dog mascot races held at Milwaukee Brewers games. The violence wasn’t funny, but the context? Still makes my stomach hurt.

There is a long line of incidents involving athletes at Taco Bell (shocker), including a former Kansas defensive lineman angered by servers reportedly forgetting to put a chalupa in his order. The guy reportedly tried to climb through the drive-thru window and sack somebody; probably would have been the first of his career.

Or how about last year when Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe was pulled over for speeding and police detected a strong marijuana odor coming from the car and Bowe – really trying to throw the cops off the trail – asked if the nearby Sonic was still open?

Then there was a Colts punter named Pat McAfee getting charged with public intoxication after taking a swim in an Indianapolis canal. There are conflicting reports, but I will forever enjoy the one where policed allegedly asked why he was wet and he said, “Because it’s raining.”

If you’re gonna screw up, please do so with humor.

Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.

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