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Taser bait

A Florida Gator gets chomped. Plus, Memphis, the NCAA, and hypocrisy.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  June 10, 2009


The clock keeps ticking down toward the inevitable first Tasered-athlete fatality. The fact that it hasn't happened yet is just a statistical anomaly, because two things continue to occur with regularity: major-college and pro jocks keep getting Tasered in late-night incidents, while an unluckier group of ordinary non-jocks keep dying from police Taserings. Eventually these two phenomena are going to have their unavoidable collision and we'll have a dead wideout or point guard on our hands — the ax just hasn't fallen yet.

This week's lucky survivor was University of Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was involved in your usual late-night tussle at a club in Gainesville. Reports say that Jenkins refused multiple requests to stop fighting, was Tasered by cops, and then unsuccessfully attempted to flee on foot. Jenkins was arrested and ultimately charged with two misdemeanors: "affray" (brawling, basically) and resisting without violence.

Jenkins hasn't been disciplined by the school yet, and this isn't surprising, as the case seems ambiguous at best. The player's attorney is claiming someone tried to steal a gold chain off Jenkins's neck during the fight, and only then did Jenkins strike back — it was at that point that he got zapped by the cops. Plus, Jenkins is a player of some stature. He's only the second true freshman in the school's history to start his first game at corner, so this isn't one of those deals where the school is going to bounce the guy for an iffy first offense. (He's good enough that he won't be kicked off the team unless the case involves either a 15-year-old girl, the quarterback's mother, or a bus full of elderly Rotarians.)

As for the less fortunate group of Taserees who have been much in the news lately: Milton Grimes, the attorney who represented Rodney King, just took up the case of 35-year-old Kevin LaDay, who recently died in police custody in Lumberton, Texas, after being Tasered. A $100 million wrongful-death suit was filed last week against the Shawnee County (Kansas) Sheriff's department, whose officers Tasered a man three times before he died in an incident last year. There have been two Taser-related deaths involving teenagers in Michigan this year. And a federal jury in Ohio just returned a $2 million judgment against the city of Canton following a 2005 case in which a 30-year-old man died after being Tasered.

Give Jenkins 18 points for the bar fight, and stay tuned for the next Tasering.

Bring your no. 2 pencil
Reports surfaced last week that indicated current Chicago Bull and onetime Memphis Tiger Derrick Rose may have been involved in some fairly complicated cheating scams while in high school. According to Memphis's Commercial-Appeal, the NCAA is investigating whether Rose had a stand-in take the SAT for him. There are also allegations that someone at Rose's high school (Chicago's Simeon Career Academy) changed a D to a C on his last-semester report card. Moreover, former Memphis coach John Calipari might take a hit here, as it is alleged that a relative of Rose's was allowed to travel with the Tigers for free during the 2008 season, a benefit the NCAA says was worth about $2200.

Has there ever been a bureaucracy more worthless than the NCAA? The whole system is absurd. There should be a minor league that allows guys who don't want to be students to earn a check and go play somewhere; all of this cloak-and-dagger silliness just to let a guy play basketball for a year seems an enormous waste of time. We should let the star quarterback get his money without having to show up for his no-show job at the car dealership, and let the point guard's mom wear a fur coat. Drop this nonsense already. Zero points for Rose, maybe one for Calipari, mainly because he's sort of a dick.

Matt Taibbi can be reached

Related: Tiger trap, Busting Balls: 20 ways to improve sports, Return of the Pac, More more >
  Topics: Sports , Basketball, Chicago Bulls, College Athletics,  More more >
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