Rhonda Cook and Bill Rankin of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION report Monday morning that Ben Roethlisberger has hired the same Atlanta attorney who got Ray Lewis off on murder charges in the ATL in 2000.
Veteran Atlanta defense lawyer Ed Garland confirmed Monday that he is representing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on allegations that he sexually assaulted a Georgia College & State University student.
Garland told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he has talked to Roethlisberger and already interviewed some witnesses. Garland said he would have no further comment.
In 2000, Garland represented Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who was charged with murder in a Buckhead street fight after a night of post-Super Bowl celebrating. In mid-trial, on June 5, 2000, Fulton County prosecutors dropped the murder charges against Lewis, allowing him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
Lewis isn’t the only celebrity NFL player Garland has repped.
The Ravens and Terrell Suggs’ agent are raising hell about a hit Brady Quinn put on Suggs last night after an interception, so I went back to the video and broke it down frame by frame:
Ray Lewis and Suggs’ agent Gary Wichard are both saying the hit was a blatant cheap shot, but in the context of the play, where the ball carrier was, I don’t know how you can fault Quinn. His hit on Suggs clearly caused the ball carrier to change direction and be tackled an instant later.
Quinn’s explanation of the play to the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER:
Quinn spoke to Suggs on the field and was visibly upset when Suggs limped off. “I was trying to go for the ball carrier,” he said. “Suggs came across at the last second in my vision. I would never wish that upon anyone. I was upset about it on the field. We worked out in Arizona together. I couldn’t be any more sorry about that. That was never the intent. I’m sorry to Terrell and the rest of their team.”
From the video, I can’t dispute what he’s saying there.
Meanwhile, Ray Lewis told the BALTIMORE SUN it was a blatant dirty play.
Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reports this morning that Josh Cribbs is out of the hospital after suffering a concussion on the last play of the game between the Browns and Ravens last night.
Cribbs was forearmed in the face by Ravens DE Dwan Edwards on the Browns’ ill-fated last-second pass play to end the game.
Video after the jump. Read more…
Jose Lambiet of the PALM BEACH POST reports that Ray Lewis spent part of his bye week in Miami, “doing tequila shots in a private suite at Land Shark Stadium last weekend. I guess he couldn’t bear watching his alma mater, the University of Miami, lose to Clemson.”
(Let’s allow Warrick Dunn to answer that: “NO“)
Thanks to the Ravens losing streak, it’s been a tough few weeks for Lewis. And then, as Lambiet reports, it got worse as “some skinny knucklehead in the suite found nothing better to do than taunt Lewis.”
Dude might also consider not tracing Ray Lewis’ face next time.
No matter what shortcomings Steve McNair may have had in his personal life, his enduring legacy as an athlete will be his courage and toughness on the football field. In an era where overpaid athletes remove themselves to the DL for the most minor of injuries, Air McNair was never one to let his team down. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis shared that trait with McNair, and perhaps it explains why the two men were close friends as well as teammates in Baltimore.
It’s understandable that Lewis was distraught over his friend’s untimely death, and it must have been tough for him to speak at McNair’s funeral in Mississippi today. By all accounts, McNair was a decent- if flawed - human being and a great teammate. Still, comparing him to Jesus Christ might have been just a wee bit too much.
Let’s turn to fancypants NBC SPORTS property PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM, where Mike Florio was doing his Florio thing:
Lewis has reportedly had a difficult time with McNair’s passing, and has not been heard from publicly before speaking at the service Saturday. At one juncture, he encouraged McNair’s sons to be proud of their father.
“He left a legacy. The same way when Jesus left, because he had to sacrifice for all of us. Y’all father put out one heck of a sacrifice, young men. Everytime y’all walk out the door, hold your head up high. Because he left something that a lot of men can’t father.”
Again - we understand that Lewis is probably having a tough time right now, so it’s unfair to nail the words of a grieving friend. But let’s be honest - McNair’s death, while tragic, does not really serve as any sort of salvation for all mankind. Making him a martyr or holding up his murder as some sort of selfless sacrifice does no good for anyone, including his now-fatherless children.
Unfortunately, it’s far too easy for adults in a position of power to prey on kids, especially if they can lure them with the promise of access to a dream of a lifetime - awe can overwhelm juvenile common sense and lead to horrible outcomes. Such seems to be the case in Belle Glade, FL, where the PALM BEACH POST reports that Rev. Richard Harris has been arrested and charged with allegedly enticing teenage boys into sexual situations, using the promise of his “NFL contacts” as a lure.
Harris had allegedly claimed to know several NFL players, including local hero Ray Lewis, and would tell eager high school football players that he could help their career by getting them private workouts with top trainers and meetings with scouts and NFL players. The only catch was that they had to perform sexual acts with him, and be taped having sex with other people.
You have to hand it to the Cameron Crazies. Not so much for dressing a student as Beaker from “The Muppet Show” to point out the resemblance with North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough. Frankly, this is old news. But having said Duke student/Muppet wear a T-shirt that says “D League,” as the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER noted. That’s classic - even North Carolina players were laughing over that one.
But then again, it was the Tar Heels and Hansbrough who had the last laugh again, as North Carolina pulled away in the second half to take down the Blue Devils 101-87 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Which made Hansbrough and senior teammate Danny Green the only two players to play in four straight victories at Duke since Mike Krzyzewski took over as the Blue Devils’ coach.
The spark for North Carolina was Ty Lawson, who scored 21 points in the second half to help the Tar Heels rally from an eight-point halftime deficit. (Good thing there is nothing the Duke fans could have given him grief about.) But as usual, the story was Hansbrough, whether he was hitting key three-pointers, getting compared to a Muppet, or getting cracked in the jaw by a Kyle Singler elbow:
You have to love the crackerjack ESPN crew of Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale totally missing the elbow. But at least Vitale - once he noticed what was happening - actually admitted that a Duke player did a bad, bad thing. Unlike Billy Packer, who probably would have chided Hansbrough for ramming into Singler’s elbow with his face.
And what’s the best way to celebrate a big win if you’re a North Carolina student? Why, burning a Christmas tree, of course. Take that, Christmas! (Why they still had a tree in February is another question.):
Speaking of Christmas…it’s time to give you the gift that keeps on giving: Brett Favre is finally gone. After the Jets’ meltdown to end the season, it was obvious what was going to happen, but it’s official: he’s filed his retirement paperwork with the league and is apparently done. No teary press conferences, no 24/7 ESPN media watch, just an old man making sure, as the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports, he gets his severance pay like an auto worker reaching retirement age.
So our national nightmare is over. Unless Favre goes online and reads stories like those from Dan Pompei of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, who immediately wrote a column that suggested Favre could still “lead certain teams to the Super Bowl.“ Certain teams meaning “Minnesota Vikings.” For God’s sake, Pompei, let’s not give him any ideas - this is like Edward R. Murrow going on the radio and suggesting that Joseph McCarthy should try exposing gay in the military instead of Communists.
Other sports stories that happened last night as you regretted eating peanut butter and peanut sandwiches for dinner (with peanut brittle for dessert):
- CNBC says that jewelry maker Robindira Unsworth received a surprise when one of her creations wound up dangling from the neck of Bar Refaeli on the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue. Which makes me wonder: has anyone even noticed her necklace while looking at the cover? Perhaps boyfriend Leonard DiCaprio bought it for her, a nice gift - as the LA TIMES says some people think the SI cover was.
- GOAL.COM says Mexico soccer captain Rafael Marquez is really sorry that he drove his spikes into US goalkeeper Tim Howard’s thigh, earning him a red card in his team’s 2-0 loss in a World Cup qualifying match in Columbus last night. He might want to apologize to Mexico coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is now in danger of losing his job after El Tri have only won one of their last seven games.
- Remember the testing program Lance Armstrong was going to undertake during his comeback to prove that he was free of performing-enhancing drugs? What a shock - it’s been scrapped, as KCRA-TV reports that he now claims that it’s too expensive and complex to pull off this year. I guess getting rid of Favre is all we could ask for.
- Just what the already-volatile Dallas Cowboys’ locker room needs: Ray Lewis. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that Terrell Owens has been making phone calls trying to recruit the Ravens’ linebacker/non-murder to play for Dallas this season.
- Despite claims in a lawsuit filed by his ex-girlfriend, Roberto Alomar tells ESPN that he’s perfectly healthy and does not have AIDS. And he’s willing to spit anywhere needed to prove it.
- Former Congressman Tom Davis tells NBCSPORTS.COM that it’s time to “cut your losses,” and that you can expect charges against Roger Clemens for lying under oath soon.
- A woman in Fresno put up her old baseball card on eBay for $10, but decided to pull the item after receiving way too many e-mails asking if it was real. It turns out that the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings card was real, and worth a lot more than she thought: the AP says she sold it yesterday for almost $65,000.
- Speaking of eBay, IDIOTS ON SPORTS found this beauty up for sale on the auction site, although I doubt it’s worth $65,000:
- The WACO TRIBUNE reports that Baylor football recruit Willie Jefferson was arrested 10 days before signing his letter of intent and charged with marijuana possession after cops found a “small bag of marijuana, a marijuana cigarette and several cigars in a cavity on the floorboard of the vehicle” Jefferson was driving. This is why you don’t by a used car from Tommy Chong.
- See, Sirius XM isn’t going bankrupt. If it was, why would they be flying Chris Russo out first-class to spring training- twice! - as he told Howard Stern yesterday. Just like there’s no way the banks could be going under if they can still afford to fly their executives out to expensive resorts for annual meetings.
It guess it’s not just to the victor that go the spoils: despite his team falling just short in the Super Bowl, Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley was rewarded for the team’s miracle run, as the KANSAS CITY STAR reports that he has reached an agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs to become their new head coach. Now, with the absolutely mess that the Chiefs are right now, it’s debatable how much of a “reward” this job is. But hey: it’s not the Raiders.
Clearly, by resurrecting the career of Kurt Warner and turning the Cardinals into a fearsome offensive machine, Haley’s proven that he can coach an offense. But can he be the leader? After all, this is someone who never played college football (instead playing and later coaching college golf) and only got into football as a scout in 1995. Can he earn the respect of the players with such little experience?
I don’t want to raise any red flags here, but when you think of “head coach with no college playing experience,” who do you think of? Charlie Weis? And if Haley commands the type of respect and admiration from players and fans that Weis does - yikes. It might even have Chiefs fans longing for the halcyon days of Gunther Cunningham. (Note: this will never happen.)
But I had an inkling this was going to happen. A source (a teammate on my kickball team) mentioned earlier this week that his father spotted Chiefs GM Scott Pioli having a lengthy meal with Todd Haley’s representatives at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House in St. Louis, hurriedly shooing away waiters and looking out for spies (apparently not well enough).
Which brings up an interesting point: Ruth’s Chris Steak House? Really? There was no better place in St. Louis to conduct an important, secretive conversation about your next head coach than a chain steak house? Granted, it’s not Sizzler or Golden Corral, but St. Louis has to have dining options with red leather chairs and lots of dark corners - don’t they have Italian restaurants there? And why not have the meeting in Kansas City? Can someone point him to Yelp, please?
In other news: it turns out that corporate sponsors don’t like it when the person they are using to sell breakfast to millions of kids is pictured taking a rip from a bong. Who knew? CNBC details how Kellogg’s has decided not to renew Michael Phelps’ endorsement contract, which is set to expire at the end of the month. Which was probably going to happen anyway - except very quietly versus with a public statement from the company admonishing Phelps for behavior that “is not consistent with the image of Kellogg.”
At least Phelps can always count on USA Swimming to have his back in their usual, clumsy way. The organization decided to crack the whip on their poster child by giving him a three-month ban, during a time when he wasn’t expected to compete in any meets of significance. (He will miss one meet, but let’s be serious here - if it’s not the Olympics or World Championships. does it really matter?) It’s the equivalent of a five-game baseball suspension for a pitcher, which just means that his next start is pushed back a game.
While all this was going on, there were actual games being played last night. And none were more important - or exciting - than the clash between the Lakers and the Celtics in Boston. The last time the Lakers were seen at the Garden, they were dodging green and white confetti as they exited the court to lick their wounds after having the Celtics pound them like a two dollar steak in their Finals-clinching 131-92 victory.
That didn’t happen this time. Despite Kobe Bryant having an off shooting game (10 of 29 from the field), the Lakers found a way to prevail 110-109 in a seesaw overtime thriller. The key for the Lakers was defense - a concept many thought they had abandoned about a month ago - even without injured center Andrew Bynum, and the scoring of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (a combined 44 points).
But if you want to talk about winning, you have to start with Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. After missing at her first attempt earlier in the week against Oklahoma, she notched her 1,000th career win on Thursday, with her Lady Volunteers thumping Georgia, 73-43.
Say what you will about women’s basketball, but that’s an incredible feat. Consider this: in all team sports, only Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has recorded more wins with one team. The difference, of course, is that Summitt actually knows how to win championships (although to be fair to Sloan, she never had to game plan for Michael Jordan.) In other news:
- Is Ray Lewis ready to walk away from the Ravens? It’s appearing more likely after PRO FOOTBALL reports that he has refused to give the team a “hometown discount” in contract negotiations. Could he make his way to the Bengals and rejoin Marvin Lewis? God, we hope so.
- It turns out the NFL did screw up the Santonio Holmes catch: USA TODAY says the league has admitted that the Steelers receiver should have been given a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration after his Super Bowl-winning catch. As I type, Will Leitch is buying a black market gun and heading to the league offices in New York.
- BALL DON’T LIE wants to slap an asterisk on LeBron James’ triple-double the othe night against the Knicks on the basis of his questionable ninth rebound out of 10. Judge for yourself and see if it should have been credited to him or Ben Wallace:
- Alabama has never had a black head coach in a major sport. Jon Solomon of THE BIRMINGHAM NEWS thinks it’s about time that changes, with the Crimson Tide looking for a replacement for basketball coach Mark Gottfried. (h/t to THE MARCH TO MADNESS)
- Yeah, I guess it’s a “poor decision” for Bowling Green’s star women’s basketball player Nikki McCoy to be driving around with a BA level twice the legal limit and an open bottle of rum in the car. WTOL-TV has details of her inevitable arrest.
- PBA bowler Jason Belmonte bowls like your four-year old son does - except your son probably can’t bowl 300 games. The WALL STREET JOURNAL has the details of one of the weirdest bowling styles you’ll ever see from a pro:
- MLB.COM reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers will host the first-ever Mexican League baseball game in the US in May, as first-division teams Monterrey and the Mexico City Diablos Rojos will battle at Dodger Stadium. Grab yourself an ice cold Horchata and enjoy the game!
- THE BIG LEAD wonders if moving your family to Nevada so your seven-year-old son can play golf full-time is a bit excessive. I would agree, especially since no one is ever going to buy Brett Sodetz-flavored Gatorade.
- According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, Michael Waltrip is vowing to retire from NASCAR if he isn’t competitive this season. So make sure you say goodbye to him if you go to a NASCAR race this season.
- We are so close to history: the NEW YORK TIMES reports that a 14-year-old set a world record at Guitar Hero with a score of 973,954 on a song by metal shredders DragonForce. Someone is going to break the million point barrier - just call that kid the Roger Bannister of Video Game Nerds.