Football, Police, Sports

The Extrajudicial Proclivities Of The NFL And NCAA

Son, my turn. I’ve been sitting here for ten minutes now lookin’ over this… rap sheet of yours. I just can’t believe it. June ’93, Assault. September ’93, Assault. Grand theft auto, February ’94. Where apparently you defended yourself and had the case thrown out by citing Free Property Rights of Horse and Carriage from 1798. January ’95, impersonating an officer. Mayhem. Theft. Resisting. All overturned. I’m also aware that you’ve been through several foster homes. The state removed you from three because of serious physical abuse. You know, another judge might care, but you hit a cop. You’re going in. Motion to dismiss is denied. Fifty thousand dollar bail.

But you hit a cop. In perhaps the most riveting courtroom scene ever committed to celluloid, the judge with the push broom mustache threatens to derail Will Hunting’s promising career as a midget boxer with those five words. Luckily — and, I don’t think I have to remind any of you — Professor Gerald Lambeau (yes, the Gerald Lambeau) sees promise in the young bobby boxer and gets him out of jail.

Another Boston-area legend saw similar promise in a troubled youth who hit a cop. The legend’s name is Bill Belichick and the troubled youth’s name is Alfonzo Dennard. Just this week, Dennard was found guilty of hitting a cop. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that he has any idea how to solve advanced Fourier Systems.

Instead of continuing this strained Good Will Hunting analogy, let’s talk sports….


Alfonzo Dennard was a highly decorated cornerback coming out of Nebraska and was expected to be an early draft pick in last year’s NFL draft. That is, until the following occurred five days before the draft:

Alfonzo Dennard

Dennard was arrested just after 2 a.m. on April 21 outside a bar in Lincoln. A police report said officers outside the bar witnessed a verbal altercation between Dennard and another person that appeared to be escalating before other people separated the two.

The officers approached the group and told Dennard twice he “needed to leave the area,” according to a police affidavit. The affidavit said Dennard was walking away when an officer saw him punch another man.

Officer Ben Kopsa then ran up to Dennard, told the football player he was under arrest and tried to handcuff him. Officers said Dennard pulled away, then punched Kopsa in the face.

During his trial, Dennard acknowledged he may have resisted arrest, but denied punching the officer.

After the arrest, Dennard fell all the way to the Patriots in Round 7 and, despite the black legal cloud hovering over his head all season long, turned in a decent rookie campaign for a team that desperately needed warm bodies in its defensive backfield. But enough about Bill Belichick’s utter indifference towards the ever-present cracks that show up time and again in New England’s secondary.

The article quoted above notes that Dennard could face up to five years in prison for assaulting a police officer. But this ProFootballTalk post notes that those found guilty of the offense don’t normally see prison sentences of more than six months. Whether Dennard’s fame gives him Lohan-level immunity or Plaxico-level bad luck remains to be seen.

However, ProFootballTalk also notes that the NFL may still punish Dennard. This even though he was not a member of the National Football League when he committed this offense. Roger Goodell would say that he’s just protecting “the shield” when he brings down the hammer on players like Dennard. But there’s always been a bit of high moralizing about the NFL’s seemingly extrajudicial punishments. In fact, there’s something down right NCAA about the way Goodell bends and contorts his ill-defined powers. Speaking of which…


We noted previously that the NCAA has run into a bit of trouble in its handling of the investigation into the University of Miami’s athletic department and convicted Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro. By bit of trouble I, of course, mean that the NCAA was exposed as a bumbling and corrupt den of unethical and amoral sh*tstains, hellbent on perpetuating the modern day plantation that is college athletics. Or, something like that.

This week, Miami President and munchkin Donna Shalala viciously lit into the NCAA. In defending her school, Shalala unleashed hell thusly:

“Many of the charges brought forth are based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying,” Shalala wrote. “The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the University that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered the allegation `corroborated’ – an argument which is both ludicrous and counter to legal practice”

She continued:

“Despite their efforts over two and a half years, the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by boosters, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use, or the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts given to student-athletes, as reported in the media,” Shalala wrote. “The fabricated story played well — the facts did not.”

And continued:

“The NCAA enforcement staff failed, even after repeated requests, to interview many essential witnesses of great integrity who could have provided firsthand testimony, including, unbelievably, Paul Dee, who has since passed away, but who served as Miami Athletic Director during many of the years that violations were alleged to have occurred,” Shalala wrote. “How could a supposedly thorough and fair investigation not even include the Director of Athletics?”

After finishing her letter, Shalala dropped the mic and walked off stage.

The NCAA suffers from the same malady that any quasi-judicial body suffers from. It purports to be like a legal body, but fails in any meaningful way to commit itself to processes that may endanger the desired results it seeks. This leads to absurd morality plays like the Sandusky case, where the NCAA threw its flabby ass on the dog pile that was Penn State’s football program, wiggling gleefully as if it had recorded a solo tackle.

If your processes are found to be woefully corrupt, you merely appeal to abstract notions of fairness or amateurism or that rare f**king unicorn, the student athlete. And in this way, you are nothing like an actual legal body. There are no safeguards in place to protect those before you. The only one watching the watchers is a media that has recently awoken to the degeneracy of your mission. But it’s all for naught.

The NCAA will bring hellfire down on Miami because overly punitive sanctions are to the NCAA as a gun is to Chekhov. Once they have been introduced, there is no turning back.

Oh, and in case you think my words too strong, check out what the NCAA is trying to do to some poor kid whose only sin was deciding to go to college on a wrestling scholarship. The NCAA is deserving of utter contempt.


* Former NC State basketball coach Sidney Lowe was arrested on a misdemeanor tax charge this week. Eschewing his former coach Jim Valvano’s advice, Lowe gave up.

* Buccaneers defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was arrested for trying to carry a gun onto an airplane. This wouldn’t have happened if Bowers had a gun.

* Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda pleaded no contest to driving under the influence. All bullpen car privileges have been stripped.

Patriots’ Alfonzo Dennard guilty of assaulting officer
Dennard’s crime usually carries a sentence of six months or less [ProFootballTalk]
NCAA accuses Miami of ‘lack of institutional control’ [CBS Sports]

(hidden for your protection)

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