Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes is already a hero in New York, having kicked the Giants into the Super Bowl with an overtime connection in Green Bay last January. Well, now he’s trying to become a hero in high traffic-areas like Compton, CA., Forrest City Federal Correctional Complex in Arkansas and, if you believe in the Showtime sitcom “Weeds” they way I do, Agrestic Heights: Tynes wants his brother, convicted drug-dealing felon Mark Tynes, released from his 27-year sentence via presidential pardon.
(Lawrence Tynes thinks he could celebrate his brother’s freedom soon.)
That’s right, the brother of an NFL kicker was a marijuana-smuggling kingpin in Texas, and a nasty one at that. Rather than cooperate with authorities for a lighter sentence, Mark Tynes refused to name any of his collaborators, only to see his jail time increased from 151 months to 324. Yes, 324 months! The now-31 year old Tynes was caught smuggling 3,600 pounds of marijuana from Texas to Florida in 2004, which is a bit more of a serious offense than the pardon given former fugitive financier Mark Rich during the Clinton administration. That guy was dealing in funny money, Mark Tynes was dealing in sticky-icky. Lots of it.
Still, according to the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Lawrence Tynes is optimistic he can get his brother out of jail before the end of the Bush administration, perhaps because of his prior relationship with the president, brief as it is. As Brendan Brosh notes in the article, Tynes was singled out for praise by President Bush when the Giants visited the White House months ago, with the two exchanging brief pleasantries about Tynes’ NFC Championship winning overtime field goal against Green Bay.
“Is my brother guilty?” Yes? But 27 years? … My brother being in prison isn’t the injustice. The sentence was the injustice.”
Still, Mark Tynes bigger card may be the man behind his brother’s push for his release: Robert Ortiz. The New Jersey-based lawyer is the the finance chairman for the New Jersey Republican State Committee, and he donated to Bush’s campaign in 2004.
(The Tynes family at the Super Bowl. Guess who wasn’t there? Here’s a hint: He’s serving years and years of federal jail time in Arkansas.)
Regardless of how you feel about the Giants, you have to respect Lawrence Tynes’ crusading for his brother, regardless of how fruitless and unjustified it may be. The kicker has footed all of his brother’s legal bills and has spent a significant amount of his time off the field trying to convince anyone and everyone that Mark Tynes belongs in a more forgiving detention center than the Arkansas site he shares with convicted murderers on death row. The Giant’s prison of choice is at Otisville, in upstate New Jersey some 90 minutes from Giants Stadium, where Tynes could visit and monitor his brother’s progress.
You can’t write the end to this potential fairy tale story until it’s over, no matter how jaded it is. After all, we’re about to enter the magical holiday season. Still, the odds are most definitely not in the Tynes’ favor. Bush has all but completely ignored his power of presidential pardons — Scooter Libby aside — until the past week, when he eliminated or alleviated 16 sentences.
“Because Lawrence is high-profile, this will get people to look at the story and take a look at what happened to Mark,” Ortiz said.
Well, I’m taking a look at it, but I’m still not sure that the Tynes’ and Ortiz have a case. Or maybe they do. Good luck to them. Or maybe bad luck to them. After all, it’s not like we need more convicted drug traffickers on the street.