Get ready, Phoenix readers, for the dad-gum funnest week of the sports-crime year! I’m talking about the week before the NFL draft (April 29 in New York City). Traditionally, this is the time of the most inexcusable, most stone-headed, most consequential sports arrests of the year — known as “Justin Miller arrests” in the business, so named after the highly touted Clemson cornerback who got tagged with disorderly conduct and “noise violation” arrests just prior to last year’s draft. (Miller, considered a sure first rounder, plummeted to 57th in the draft — a fall that cost him millions of dollars).
You see, it’s one thing to get arrested for ripping off a few car mirrors or punching your girlfriend when it’s just a humdrum drunken weekend night in the October of your redshirt year. But it’s a completely different thing to commit crazed drunken crimes when 32 scouts representing every NFL team are sitting on your porch, stopwatches in hand, timing your sprint from the dorm fire escape to the sheriff’s cruiser.
This year’s NFL draft includes numerous accused sexual batterers and drug offenders, but in a move that can only be described as humorous, ESPN.com’s draft analysis lists only two draft candidates — Notre Dame receiver Maurice Stovall and Oregon tight end Tim Day — as “character” concerns. Their crimes? Neither is considered aggressive enough for the NFL.
So, who’ll it be this year? Here’s the shortlist of the most arrest-prone draft studs:
1)Marcus Vick, QB, Virginia Tech: The high-profile brother of scatter-armed Falcons star Michael Vick is probably the best bet to implode under pressure: any man who can pull a gun on three teenagers in the parking lot of a McDonald’s three days after being kicked off his college team has definitely got the right stuff for a draft-week arrest.
2)Claude Wroten, DT, LSU: The massive tackle is this draft’s Most Likely to Smoke a Fattie. Has been busted for marijuana possession, but otherwise the giant two-gap defender looks very much like a future New England Patriot.
3)Scott Paxson, DT, Penn State: This sad sack, a Philly kid, was busted in December after meeting a girl online (facebook.com) who subsequently accused him of forcing himself on her. Paxson vehemently denies the charge and claims he is being set up. Unlike most jocks in his predicament, he sounds credible.
4)Reuben Houston, RB, Georgia Tech: Houston is the winner of this year’s Nate Newton award, having been sentenced to nine months of probation for his role in the distribution of 92 pounds of marijuana. Unfortunately, he only ran in the 4.6 range in workouts, meaning he’s a late rounder at best.
5)Manase Hopoi, DE, Washington: Another in a long line of hyperaggressive Pacific Coast Samoan prospects with violent rap sheets (see: Zach Tuiasosopo), Hopoi belted a security guard a few years ago.
6)Moe Thompson, DE, Grambling: Thompson may be one of the first players to be drafted despite having been a fugitive from justice during his NCAA Division 1 career. Before being kicked off the South Carolina Gamecocks, he was busted in one of several SC theft scandals and went on the lam for a while, eventually resurfacing in Grambling.
7 )Dusty Dvoracek, DT, Oklahoma: A while back, Ol’ Dusty was kicked off the Sooners temporarily, following a public-intoxication incident that left one of his best friends in the hospital with a serious head trauma.
8)A.J. Nicholson, LB, FSU: What good would this list be without a Florida State mention? Nicholson is the only draft prospect this year to have been shot with a Taser gun: last year he got popped by Tallahassee cops who found him hiding in the bushes of an apartment complex.
9)Cam Hall, S, Boise State: Arrested for vehicular manslaughter last year when he allegedly got into a high-speed game of tag with a drunk driver who wouldn’t let him pass. The two drivers accelerated to speeds exceeding 100 mph, and when the other driver hit a third car, all three occupants in that car, including an infant, were killed. Hall is considered an excellent special-teams player.
10)Antwan Allen, CB, Iowa: Allen, one of a number of draft prospects this year with a serious bar-fight assault charge, was the beneficiary of a Midwestern press corps that devoted most of its energy last year to writing about fellow Hawkeye (basketball player) Pierre Pierce’s rape case. Allen broke a student’s jaw in an Iowa bar, but he is also a corner with excellent cover skills.
We’ll let you know who survives draft week intact.
When he’s not googling “Nate Newton AND massive amounts of marijuana,” Matt Taibbi is writing for Rolling Stone.
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