This was Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor on the occasion of his Aug. 30, 2008 arrest for disorderly conduct in Miami Beach: “I’m not going to sit here and BS you and say I should have been home. People say it was 4 o’clock in the morning. But we’re in Miami. We’re not in Jacksonville, where everything closes at 2. In Miami, everything opens at 2. You take your nap and you go and have a good time and go home. I was trying to go home.”
Oh, yes, Miami, a city where clubgoers see more sunrises than sunsets, where the real fun only begins after the rest of the world has gone to bed (instead of B.E.D.) and where professional athletes come to sample the libertine lifestyle, flaunt their fame and fortune and, more often than not, get themselves tossed into the hoosegow. But it’s not just Miami and its sister city Miami Beach that draw athletes to jail like frat boys to hazing parties. All of South Florida appears to have this magical ability to glimmer star jocks into behaving criminally at our end of the peninsula. So in honor of the upcoming Super Bowl at Dolphin Stadium, City Link has decided to look back at some of the most-significant athletic arrests in South Florida history. This is by no means a comprehensive list and, if history is any indication, the week of Super Bowl XLIV should provide us plenty of new names should we decide to update it in the future.
Arrested: Jan. 30, 1999
Charge: Solicitation for prostitution
Incident report: Following his accepting of the Bart Starr Award for outstanding moral character at the hands of Christian organization Athletes in Action (seriously, we’re not making that up), Atlanta Falcons safety Eugene Robinson was feeling his oats — or at the very least, the need to sow them. He flagged down a woman on the street and offered her $40 for a blow job. Said woman proved to be an undercover officer.
Sentence: Police dropped the misdemeanor solicitation charge after Robinson agreed to take an AIDS education course.
Aftermath: Robinson missed playing in the next day’s Super Bowl because of the arrest. He went on to play for a year with the Carolina Panthers before hanging up his cleats. He now works as a commentator for the Carolina Panthers Radio Network. On a side note, what the hell is an NFL player doing offering a streetwalker $40 for oral sex? For God’s sake, he’d have his pick of any of a thousand women across Miami Beach, for nothing, all of them way hotter than the average Biscayne Boulevard working girl. Anyway, being a john doesn’t seem to have sullied his reputation too terribly — along with his radio gig, Robinson also works as an assistant coach for the varsity squad at Charlotte Christian School in Charlotte, N.C.
ED BELFOUR AND VILLE PELTONEN
Arrested: April 2, 2007
Charges: Disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer without violence (Belfour) and criminal mischief (Peltonen)
Incident report: Florida Panthers goalie Ed Belfour and teammate Ville Peltonen were having a blast — or getting blasted, your view may vary — at Nikki Beach when they took things too far. Details of the onset of this incident are hazy, but Belfour apparently was acting like an idiot, because security called police to get the goalie to leave. Belfour shoved a cop, and that did it for him. Peltonen was arrested after he broke a metal pole off a nearby fire truck.
Sentence: Both players accepted plea deals. Peltonen did 15 hours of community service, made a $200 contribution to the Police Athletic League and paid $185.31 to fix the pole. Belfour served 20 hours of community service, made an equal contribution to the PAL and wrote an apology to the arresting officer. In Belfour’s case, he got off light, given that he had previously been arrested for resisting arrest in 2000.
Aftermath: Peltonen was re-signed by the Panthers, but Belfour’s next job was with a team in the Swedish Hockey Division. Belfour was already a little past his prime when the incident occurred, and we have to think that that’s why the Panthers released him. After all, what’s a little nightclub scuffle when your day job is beating the hell out of people for money?
Arrested: Nov. 8, 2009
Charge: Leaving the scene of an accident
Incident report: Taylor was cruising through Hialeah when he allegedly ran into another car and then took off. The Florida Highway Patrol later pulled him over and, when they explained to Taylor what he had done, the legendary New York Giants linebacker responded that he thought he had just struck a guard rail. Troopers did not administer a sobriety test.
Sentence: The case is ongoing.
Aftermath: The incident is too recent for any blowback to have happened yet, but come on now. It’s freaking Lawrence Taylor. He once showed up to practice in handcuffs because the hookers he was with the night before couldn’t find the key. By his own estimate, he blew thousands of dollars every day on drugs when he was in his prime. You think he’s sweating this?
GILBERT ARENAS AND AWVEE STOREY
Arrested: May 27, 2006
Charges: Failure to obey a command (Storey) and resisting an officer without violence (Arenas)
Incident report: Ah, Memorial Day weekend in Miami Beach. There’s always an arrest or 10, but it’s unusual when professional athletes get picked off. Back in 2006, the cops decided to get draconian in their crackdowns. When Storey was told by police to get out of the street and he didn’t, they arrested him. Arenas then left his car and stood by Storey. When the cops told him to get back in his car, he refused, saying, “I’m not going to leave my teammate.” They arrested him, too.
Sentence: Both players copped to plea deals in which charges were dropped in exchange for charity donations.
Aftermath: Storey had already been busted down to the Dakota Wizards, the Washington Wizards’ development team. The next season, he bashed a teammate in the head during a practice, fracturing his skull and giving him a concussion. Storey never played in the NBA again. He was last heard of Nov. 10, 2009, when it was announced that he was being released by the New Zealand Breakers. As for Arenas, you may have heard that he recently subjected his teammates to gunplay in the locker room at Verizon Center, where he still plays for the Wizards. This past Wednesday, the NBA announced it was suspending him indefinitely without pay until it had completed an investigation.
Arrested: March 14, 2009
Charge: DUI manslaughter
Incident report: After slamming shots with fellow Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards in the early-morning hours of March 14, 2009 at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Donté Stallworth decided he wanted some breakfast to soak up all that Patrón Silver in his system. But first, the man needed to take a nap. So at about 4 a.m., he fired up his 2005 Bentley, drove to his Miami condominium for some shut-eye and woke up a couple of hours later with a belly full of hunger and a brain that was floating like a worm in a tequila bottle. Getting back in his car, the 28-year-old Stallworth boarded the already-busy MacArthur Causeway shortly after 7:15. Tragically, crane operator Mario Reyes had just knocked off work and was rushing toward a bus stop when an impatient Stallworth sped his car around the vehicle stopped in front of his at a red light and struck the pedestrian Reyes, killing the 59-year-old husband and father. A toxicology test revealed traces of marijuana in Stallworth’s system and a blood-alcohol level of .126. The legal limit in Florida is .08.
Sentence: After pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter, Stallworth was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 10 years’ probation and two years of house arrest. He was given 1,000 hours of community service and forbidden to drive for the remainder of his life. The football player also reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Reyes’ family. Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the Miami-Dade state attorney, reportedly didn’t seek a prison sentence for Stallworth because he manned up and accepted responsibility for killing Reyes. (Of course, Fernandez Rundle was not in the least starstruck by Stallworth and certainly would offer the same plea deal to any poor and nonfamous pedestrian-killer among us.) Stallworth was released from jail after only serving 24 days, proving that justice not only is blind but mentally imbalanced whenever it encounters a celebrity who breaks the law.
Aftermath: Even though the terms of Stallworth’s plea deal allow him to continue his career in the NFL, the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, suspended Stallworth indefinitely from the league this past June. Not surprisingly — because this is the way the world works for everyone save we little people — Stallworth remains on the Browns’ roster and will be eligible for reinstatement the day after the Super Bowl.
JOSE AND OZZIE CANSECO
Arrested: Oct. 31, 2001
Charges: Felony aggravated battery
Incident report: Jose Canseco appears to have never met an object he didn’t want to hit. Before retiring from Major League Baseball in 2002, the one-time American League MVP slapped 462 home runs, logged 1,401 RBIs and posted a career .286 batting average. While his off-field slugging percentage has been far from impressive, it certainly has been notable. In 1992, he reportedly slammed his Porsche into a BMW being driven by his first wife, picking up an aggravated assault charge in the process. Five years later, the Cuban-born, Miami-raised Canseco was arrested for smacking his wife and ordered by a judge to get counseling. All that was mere batting practice for the big game he and twin brother Ozzie played Halloween 2001 at the now-closed Miami Beach nightclub Opium Garden. Claiming a tourist partying at the club had groped a female companion of the Cansecos, Jose grabbed the man by the neck, reared back and popped him in the nose so hard he snapped it like a hollowed-out Louisville slugger over his steroid-enhanced knee. The tourist’s friend jumped in, and so did Ozzie, who left the second tourist with a gash in his lip that required 20 stitches to close.
Sentence: In November 2002, as jury selection was beginning in the Canseco brothers’ trial, Jose pleaded guilty to one count of felony aggravated battery and two counts of misdemeanor battery and received a sentence of three years’ probation, 250 hours of community service and anger-management training. Ozzie pleaded guilty to one count of felony battery and one count of misdemeanor battery and accepted 18 months’ probation, 200 hours of community service and anger-management training.
Aftermath: While Jose Canseco appeared to cease hitting everything save the steroids following his plea deal, he continued to take potshots at common sense. On Feb. 18, 2003, Canseco was arrested for violating the terms of his probation after he spent more than 30 days outside the state of Florida, didn’t clock a single community-service hour or show up to an anger-management class. A judge ordered him to get reacquainted with the Miami-Dade County Jail for 30 days, tacked on an additional three years’ probation and sentenced him to two years’ house arrest. None of this, however, prevented Canseco from becoming the prophet of Major League Baseball’s steroid scandal when in 2006 he published the best-selling tell-all Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids and How Baseball Got Big. In 2008, he unleashed a followup titled Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars and the Battle To Save Baseball.
Ozzie, meanwhile, scored his own probation violation in May 2003 when he was arrested in Charlotte County for possession of anabolic steroids and for driving with a suspended license. He reportedly was sentenced to four months in jail for the charges. Unlike his brother, he has not published any best-selling memoirs, though he pretended to be Jose on the fifth season of the VH1 reality program The Surreal Life.
Arrested: July 21, 2007
Charges: DUI, resisting an officer with violence and fleeing and eluding a police officer
Incident report: Drafted by the Florida Marlins in 2002, when he was only 18 years old, Scott Olsen made his Major League debut with the team in 2005 and remained a starting pitcher for the team until he was traded to the Washington Nationals in 2008. He and his throwing arm posted decent numbers for the Fish: In 2006, he went 12-10 and broke the franchise’s single-season record for strikeouts with 166 K’s. The following season, he was one of three Marlins pitchers to earn 10 wins.
The problem for Olsen, at least during his time with the Marlins, was that his mouth could throw as much heat as his arm. With a temper that went nuclear at the slightest hint of insult, a relationship with baseball fans that bordered on dysfunctional, and the second-most-memorable incident of drunkenness in Marlins history (see Dontrelle Willis item below), Olsen acted more like a member of the 1986 Mets than the 2006 Marlins. He enjoyed well-documented dustups with teammates Sergio Mitre, Miguel Cabrera and Randy Messenger (who gave Olsen a black eye). Olsen once so angered then-Marlins manager Joe Girardi that the future Yankees skipper grabbed the pitcher by the jersey and dragged him inside the dugout tunnel during a game.
Now for that DUI: After leading the Marlins to a 10-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, July 20, Olsen understandably felt like celebrating, which he did until 3:40 a.m. when his Infiniti SUV registered 48 mph in a 35 mph zone on an Aventura Police officer’s radar gun. When the officer signaled to Olsen to pull over, the pitcher took off, running a stop sign on the way to his home in Aventura, where he then rushed to his front patio and plopped down in a plastic chair. The officer called for backup, whom the apparently inebriated Olsen welcomed to the scene with a few poorly placed kicks he possibly learned by watching his long-legged peer Willis on the mound. (Willis, coincidentally, was acting as Olsen’s wingman that evening and was following behind him in his own car when the officer caught him speeding. Willis was not charged with any crime in connection with Olsen’s failed getaway attempt.) As Olsen demonstrated his pseudo-karate skills, one of the cops broke out a Taser and lit up the sodden Marlin like the scoreboard at Dolphin Stadium. Subdued at last, Olsen was booked into Miami-Dade County Jail on the above-mentioned charges. He posted an $11,000 bond the following day and was released.
Sentence: A month after his arrest, Olsen dodged a felony conviction by enrolling in a police-approved pretrial diversion program.
Aftermath: In November 2008, the Marlins traded Olsen to the Washington Nationals, the worst team in Major League Baseball. Injured throughout most of the 2009 season, Olsen only recorded 11 games, winning two, losing four and scraping together a 6.03 ERA. Nonetheless, the team re-signed him last month with a 1-year, $1 million contract.
Arrested: Dec. 22, 2006
Incident report: Dontrelle Willis, the MLB pitcher known for his idiosyncratic windup, wildly erratic career and genial personality, was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 2003, the same year he won a spot on the NL All-Star team and helped lead the Florida Marlins to its second World Series championship. Willis’ greatest rookie move, however, came three years later during a night of hard partying on South Beach. About 4 a.m. Dec. 22, a police officer saw the 6-foot-4 ace double-park his black Bentley on Washington Avenue, stumble from the car and proceed to piss right there in the street. As ESPN reported, the officer was called to respond to an emergency but returned in time to find Willis “confused and disoriented,” reeking of alcohol and unable to maintain his balance. Willis was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and taken to Miami-Dade County Jail, where he refused to take a Breathalyzer test. He was released later that day after posting $1,000 bond.
Sentence: Willis’ drunk-driving charges were reduced to a careless-driving charge. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay fines and court costs of $761 and sentenced to six months’ probation and 50 hours of community service.
Aftermath: In a mea culpa outside the jailhouse upon his release, Willis told reporters that, and we’re paraphrasing here, taking a leak beside your double-parked Bentley in South Beach is not the kind of example a star baseball player should set for his fans. “I’ll do a better job,” he vowed. While Willis has backed up that statement by curbing his urge to whiz on city streets, his performance at his day job has been less than stellar. After being traded to the Detroit Tigers following a 2007 season with the Marlins that saw him go 10-15 in 35 games, the one-time 22-game winner spent his first year in the Motor City playing only eight games, winning none and losing two. His 2009 season was not much better. He went 1-4 in seven games and twice went on the 15-day disabled list for an anxiety disorder. Willis has one year remaining in his $29 million contract with the Tigers.
Arrested: Nov. 15, 1999
Charge: Misdemeanor simple battery
Incident report: Ten years after retiring from the NBA, Dennis Rodman may be more famous for his post-basketball career as a reality-TV star, nightclub habitué and all-around troublemaker than for anything he achieved on the court (though his achievements arguably are worthy of the Hall of Fame). His run-ins with the law are too numerous to fully recount here, though he did have the decency to get himself arrested in our back yard on Nov. 15, 1999. At 7 that morning, police responded to reports that a man and a woman were fighting at the Bentley Hotel in Miami Beach. The officers arrived to find the couple was none other than Rodman and former Baywatch star Carmen Elektra, whose 10-day marriage had been annulled the year before. The pair was taken to Miami-Dade County Jail, where they remained handcuffed for several hours before being released on $2,500 bail each and ordered to stay at least 500 feet from one another.
Sentence: Perhaps realizing that it wouldn’t take Rodman long to show up in another courtroom on a more-serious charge, a judge dropped the misdemeanor charges against the former baller and his ex-wife.
Aftermath: Five weeks later, Rodman was arrested for drunken driving in Costa Mesa, Calif. He currently can be seen in the VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab.
Contact Jake Cline at jcline@citylinkmagazine and Dan Sweeney at email@example.com.
This story was originally published Jan. 12, 2010.