- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2005

Kellen Winslow the Younger took a motorcycle out for a spin the other day. And like the dangerous receiver he is, he got “good separation” from it, according to reports. When his front wheel hit a curb at about 35 mph, he went soaring over the handlebars, landing hard enough to uproot a small tree. As an added bonus, his helmet, which wasn’t strapped on, flew off his head. I say “added bonus” because it increased the likelihood he might have had some sense knocked into him.

There are stories like this every day involving football players, stories of recklessness and silliness and even, on occasion, reckless silliness. It would be a lot easier to excuse Winslow’s youthful indiscretion, though, if he weren’t a product of the University of Miami, the program that, in the late ‘80s, carried on as if it were filming a “Gridders Gone Wild” video.

Yes, ladies, gentlemen and probation officers, the Hurricanes are at it again, popping up in all sorts of places you wouldn’t want a football player to pop up in. Here in Washington, the Redskins have had kind of a ‘Canes Trifecta going; Sean Taylor and Santana Moss have been skipping offseason workouts in hopes of getting better contracts (Moss just Got His), and Clinton Portis has been embroiled in a lawsuit with former Redskin Ifeanyi Ohalete over — of all things — the purchase of the latter’s No. 26 jersey.

Have any other Redskins been skipping offseason workouts in hopes of getting better contracts? Have any other Redskins been embroiled in lawsuits over the purchase of a jersey number? No, only Redskins who used to cavort in Coral Gables.

The Winslow incident is hardly the first of its kind for the Hurricanes. Why, the year he won the Heisman Trophy (1986), Vinny Testaverde got banged up riding a motor scooter and missed the last game of Miami’s undefeated regular season. But Winslow’s figures to be the more expensive transgression because the standard NFL contract prohibits players from engaging in dangerous activities — except, of course, for football. There’s even speculation he might have to give back some or all of his signing bonus.

And to think for a while there, Miami players seemed to be following the straight and narrow. Jerome Brown’s death behind the wheel of a speeding Corvette, Brian Blades’ conviction (later overturned) in the shooting death of his cousin, Michael Irvin’s drug bust and assorted other legal adventures — such horrific headlines became, in the mid-‘90s, fewer and farther between.

But then Ray Lewis went to a club in Atlanta a few days before Super Bowl XXXIV, a fatal street fight broke out … and a whole new cycle of PR disasters began for UM alums. Soon enough, Packers running back Najeh Davenport was defecating in a co-ed’s closet at a Miami-area university — “Najeh wants to put this behind him,” his lawyer said, memorably, when the matter was resolved — and Warren Sapp was getting fined $50,000 for intentionally bumping an official as he jogged onto the field for pregame warm-ups.

Over time, Sapp’s behavior — especially the incessant yap-yap-yapping — grew increasingly aberrant. If he could no longer dominate, he’d simply abominate. Whatever it took to keep his name in the news, to maintain, as it were, his “SportsCenter” presence.

Trying to keep pace with him is another Hurricane-turned-blowhard, Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey, who’s always putting his cleat in his mouth. (His comments about gays on the “Howard Stern Show” were straight from the Book of John Rocker.) And now we have Sean Taylor’s continuing antics — the agent firings and hirings, the drunk driving charge (ultimately dismissed), the inability to recite the alphabet for the arresting officer, the almost immediate unhappiness with his contract, the refusal to return Joe Gibbs’ calls.

We also have Portis and Moss marching, as so many Miami players do, to their own personal drummers. If I were an NFL club, I’d be exceedingly careful before I spent a high draft pick on a Hurricane; never mind the Wonderlic test, I’d have the guy take a Rorschach test, too.

So it was funny last year to hear Gibbs talk about how thorough the Redskins had been in checking out Taylor, how they’d left no stone unturned, no cupboard unopened, no question unasked. What, are you kiddin’ me, Joe? You obviously forgot to ask one of the most important questions of all:

You don’t play for the University of Miami, do you?

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide