By: Dave Baker
It costs money to keep the Bake Shop up and running. Money for coffee, money for late night food runs, money for beer and wings on Sundays, and money for some chemical intervention when the jokes just aren’t hitting. Since the staff here at Before the Visiting the Sportsbook isn’t exactly getting medical yet, I write for RELEASE, a monthly publication covering incarceration, prisoner reentry, and criminal justice issues in Connecticut. A recurring theme in our work with the offender population is the difficulty they have finding work. No surprise, really. People with college degrees have a hard time landing jobs, so for somebody with a felony on their record that uphill battle only intensifies.
The thought occurred to me: are there companies that hire, per capita, more ex-offenders than others? I’m sure it’s a shortlist, landscaping, construction, dive bars, the Department of Transportation, but what about the National Football League? The news of a professional football player having a brush with the law is never far from the ESPN Bottomline, tabloid headlines, or the blogosphere. Our good friends at the San Diego Times documented every arrest and legal incident involving NFL players since 2000. Currently, 615 NFL players have been cited for felonies or serious misdemeanors, a statistic that roughly translates to a league with 36 percent of its players holding criminal records. Now, that’s only an estimate because 1) the league has worked hard to clean up its image and many repeat offenders are out of football and 2) I’m no good at maths. Here at the Bake Shop we don’t just respect ex-offenders as hardworking citizens struggling to get their lives back on track, we need them. They keep my bank account above zero and, when football’s involved, they’re just too much fun. Without further adieu, the Bake Shop gives you Roger Goodell’s Most Wanted.
10. Julian Edelman, WR- New England Patriots
Halloween is nationally recognized as the one time a year a girl can dress like a total slut without any ramifications. Except if Julian Edelman is at your party. In that case, prepare to have your ass grabbed. Mr. Edelman was arrested at a Boston nightclub last Halloween for indecent assault and battery, groping a woman underneath her costume. A wasted Edelman (check it out his mug shot, so sober) bumped into a woman at the Storyville Nightclub and felt her up under her costume. Classy dude. A witness confronted Edelman and the three were escorted out of the bar by security. Suffolk County prosecutors dropped the charges and Edelman is still playing mediocre football for the New England Patriots.
9. Jeff Reed, K- Free Agent
2009 was a rough year for former Pittsburg Steelers kicker Jeff Reed. He got in a fight with a paper towel dispenser (he won) and was hit with public intoxication and resisting arrest. Reed allegedly swung at a police officer while he was citing teammate and current Bears tight end Matt Spaeth for public urination. Understandable. But beating up an empty paper towel dispenser at a convenience store? Explain that one, Jeff. Jeff Reed is currently unemployed, but still ranks highly among NFL kickers I’d like to drink with. (Note to self: compile list of NFL kickers I’d like to drink with.)
8. Rolando McClain, LB- Oakland Raiders
How many times have you ended fights with your friends by pulling a gun on them, pressing it to their head, and firing off a round just to establish that you’re not fucking around? Yeah, me either. Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain is currently serving a 180-day sentence in his home state of Alabama for reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, menacing and discharging a firearm. A dispute with childhood friend Rishard Tapscott escalated when McClain pulled a gun on him and threatened to “blow my fucking head off,” as Tapscott told police. McClain fired a warning shot near the side of his head and was arrested soon after. Moral of the story: don’t fuck with Rolando McClain.
7. Adam “Pac Man” Jones, CB- Cincinnati Bengals
Pac Man has almost as many arrests (seven) as he does career interceptions (eight). Assault, felony vandalism, possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, felony coercion, resisting arrest; is there anything Pac Man can’t do? He was suspended for the entire 2007 season after his involvement in a Las Vegas nightclub shooting and melee, and has been on probation two separate occasions. Kids, if you want to waste jaw dropping potential and millions of dollars, do it like Pac Man.
6. Chad Johnson, WR- Free Agent
The league isn’t the same without Ochocinco. As his receiving skills diminished, his abilities as an entertainer only improved. Arrested this past summer for a domestic dispute with his wife and released by the Miami Dolphins, I’m sure other teams in the league could have worked out a way to keep him on their roster. I believe Johnson still has something in the tank, and you can’t convince me there aren’t teams he could start on tomorrow. Johnson’s only real problem was having the misfortune of playing for Joe “No Bullshit” Philbin, a guy with less personality than an endzone pylon. From Johnson’s twitter: “That awkward moment when you realize you’re not on Madden13 and have to create yourself…” We feel for ya, Chad.
5. Dez Bryant, WR- Dallas Cowboys
He slapped his mama. LOL.
4. The Detroit Lions
Tyrion Lannister once famously remarked, “Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are; the rest of the world shall not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.” The Lions not only embrace their role as the NFL’s new bad boys, they relish in it. Late hits, dirty hits, and playing to the echo of the whistle earned them a reputation as the league’s grimiest team last season, but they didn’t stop after the game clock hit zero. They spent the offseason raking up arrests, with Johnny Culbreath, Mikel Leshoure, Nick Fairley, and Aaron Barry all earning their stripes – Leshoure, Fairley, and Barry more than once. Take a breather, Cincinnati. Detroit can man the police blotter for a while.
3. Michael Vick, QB- Philadelphia Eagles
After serving a two-year sentence on federal dog fighting charges, Vick cleaned up his image, found his way back to an NFL roster, and posted a Pro Bowl season in 2010, in addition to being voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Due to the sensitive nature of Vick’s crime, many find his actions reprehensible. As far as the Bake Shop is concerned, he served his time and for the Philadelphia Eagles, his careless, erratic play as of late is a much greater concern than a crime he committed five years ago.
2. Sam Hurd, WR- Free Agent
Sam Hurd is fucked. A free agent signing by the Chicago Bears in 2011, Hurd played on a hackneyed Bears offense made up almost exclusively of Dallas Cowboy washouts. He made a minimal impact, which in hindsight makes sense because he was too busy building a veritable drug cartel. Undercover federal agents in the Chicago area arrested Hurd after he purchased one kilogram of cocaine and two pounds of marijuana. Hurd later admitted that his intention was to push somewhere between five and ten kilos of coke and over 1,000 pounds of weed per week. That’s serious weight. Hurd is currently being held in federal prison in Dallas, Texas and is awaiting trial.
1. Ray Lewis, LB- Baltimore Ravens
The league is better with Ray Lewis. Is he one of the greatest middle linebackers to play the game? Absolutely. Did he murder those two guys that night in Atlanta? I think so. The courts found him innocent, but RayRay better get his story straight when he comes face to face with Jesus. Then again, if there is a Jesus odds are 50/50 he’s either a Ray Lewis or Tim Tebow fan so maybe he’ll acquit Ray Lewis too.