Packers player admits sexual contact, claims there was consent

The still-unnamed member of the Green Bay Packers who is under investigation for sexual assault reportedly has admitted having sexual contact with the alleged victims.  (Yes, victims.)  However, the player claims that the contact with the two women was consensual, according to Charles Davis of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

The women claim there was no consent.  The women also initially claimed that more than one player was involved.  Police interviewed seven Packers; six of them are not suspected of criminal misconduct.

The unnamed player becomes the third NFL player accused of sexual assault in less than a year.  Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has faced two such claims.  A civil suit filed earlier this year alleges that Colts defensive tackle Eric Foster sexually assaulted a hotel worker on the morning of the AFC Championship in January.

Though the six-game suspension imposed on Roethlisberger likely will trigger speculation that the unnamed Packer will face similar treatment even without an arrest, keep in mind that the league looks to pounce preemptively only on repeat offenders.

“If somebody’s showing a pattern of behavior and a series of misjudgments, we should find out what that is and try to deal with the problem,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told me during an interview that will appear in the upcoming PFT Season Preview magazine.  “I’m not going to wait for somebody to get thrown into jail.”

In this case, the unnamed Packer could get thrown in jail.  But the league most likely won’t intervene until the matter is resolved, unless the player in question has prior issues under the Personal Conduct Policy.

Packers interviewed in sexual assault case

Several days ago, we pointed out that an arrest-free Memorial Day weekend could be evidence that NFL players have learned from the misadventures of men like Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Then again, maybe not.

Per Sharif Durhams of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, police are investigating an unnamed member of the Green Bay Packers in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred Saturday morning in Lake Delton, Wisconsin.

According to the report, six members of the team were interviewed and released.  They are not believed to have been involved.   

Jane Burns of the Wisconsin State Journal reports that the six players are quarterback Matt Flynn, guard Josh Sitton, fullback Korey
Hall, linebacker Brad Jones, linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Khalil Jones.  Again, they are not suspects.  

A seventh member of the team also spoke to police, and he remains under investigation.  The seventh Packer has not been named. 

Two women claim they were assaulted at a rental condo at Wilderness Resort Golf Cabins.

A league source tells us that the players were in the area for a Friday golf outing.

UPDATE:  A reader has pointed out a link to the list of confirmed attendees for the Friday golf tournament.  Seven other Packers were due to attend — T Chad Clifton, T Mark Tauscher, OL Daryn Colledge, K Mason Crosby, RB Brandon Jackson, RB Kregg Lumpkin, and CB Brandon Underwood.  However, only three of the six Packers who were interviewed appear on the list of attendees, which means that there may have been others in attendance who were not on the list, either.

Former Ram arrested for fraud

Fullback James Hodgins, a member of the Greatest Show on Turf that won Super Bowl XXXIV, now faces the possibility of spending time in the Big House.

According to Robert Salonga of the Contra Costa Times, authorities claim that Hodgins swindled victims out of thousands of dollars by renting vacant homes via the Internet.

Prosecutors have opted not to file formal charges yet because more evidence regarding the size of the scam is being compiled.  “This is going to be pretty
big,” Oakley, California police detective Sean Eriksen (and she) said.

Hodgins spent four years with the Rams, from 1999 through 2002, appearing in 55 games, with 20 starts.  He joined the Cardinals in 2003, playing every game and starting eight.  He spent two more seasons with the Cardinals, making only one game appearance.  Hodgins ended his career in 2006 with the Jets.

NFL suspends Quinn Ojinnaka for a game

Last May, Falcons offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka was arrested for allegedly fighting with and spitting at his wife, after Ojinnaka’s wife confronted him regarding a female friend on his Facebook page.

Ojinnaka claimed at the time that she had tried to stab with him a pen.  She claimed that he “threw her on some stairs before tossing her out of the house.”

Ojinnaka was charged with simple battery.  Now, Jay Glazer of FOX reports that Ojinnaka has been suspended for a game by the NFL for violating the Personal Conduct Policy.

The move implies strongly that Ojinnaka eventually pleaded guilty or no contest to the charges.  It’s also possible that he entered a diversion program, which also sets the table for potential discipline.

Ojinnaka is one of the Falcons players to whom Glazer supplied MMA training during the offseason.  It’s unknown whether they are also Facebook friends.

Court documents make strong allegations against Johnny Jolly

What once appeared to be a garden-variety drug possession case against Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly has taken on a much more troubling posture.

Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that court records indicate an intention by prosecutors to attempt to prove at trial that Johnny “bought, sold, funded, transported and aided in the buying, selling,
funding and transportation of illegal narcotics including cocaine and
” from 2006 through May 2008.

The information comes from a disclosure made by prosecutors of a plan to “use extraneous offenses and prior convictions for impeachment and/or
punishment” in connection with Jolly’s upcoming trial on codeine possession charges. 

In English, this means that, while Jolly isn’t charged (yet) with buying, selling, funding, transporting, and/or abetting the purchase, sale, funding, or transportation of cocaine and marijuana, prosecutors have placed Jolly’s lawyer on notice of an intention to introduce such evidence.  At trial, it would be used as “other act” evidence, similar to the manner in which the lawyer representing the Nevada woman who has sued Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for sexual assault would attempt to introduce proof that he sexually assaulted a college student in Milledgeville, Georgia.  The evidence also could be used in the sentencing phase, if Jolly is convicted.

Jolly’s lawyer, Michelle E. Beck, scoffs at the development.  “I could file a notice of intent to prove I’m Santa Claus, but that
doesn’t mean it’s true,” she said, per Bedard.

Bedard explains that the evidence comes from a witness who will testify that Jolly funded drug deals.  Bedards also writes of a possibility that Jolly could face federal charges in this regard.

The allegations make Jolly’s ongoing ability to play NFL football somewhat curious, and it remains to be seen whether evidence suggesting repeat offenses could get Jolly the same kind of treatment that Roethlisberger experienced in April.

Pash thinks NFL lost American Needle battle because it will eventually win the war

When we last heard from NFL general counsel Jeff Pash in connection with the league’s 9-0 slam-dunk defeat before the U.S. Supreme Court on the question of whether the league is a single entity or 32 separate business, Pash expressed a high degree of optimism that, even though the league’s silver-bullet defense has failed, the NFL eventually will win the antitrust case filed by an apparel company frozen out by an exclusive deal with Reebok.

“We remain very confident about the ultimate outcome of this litigation.
I have the highest degree of confidence that when it is decided it will
be decided in our favor,” Pash said.  “I don’t have the slightest
doubt about it.  I’m as confident of that
outcome as can be.”

More recently, Pash elaborated on his optimism by suggesting that he had some inside information.

“Most of the justices and their clerks think we will prevail and therefore there was no need to take the step we were asking them to take,” Pash said, according to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal.  “Within the context of the antitrust laws, it is very likely we will have been found to have acted in a perfectly lawful and appropriate manner.”

Look, Pash is brilliant.  He wouldn’t be the NFL’s general counsel if he wasn’t.  But the notion that the Supreme Court would decide on a 9-0 basis that the NFL doesn’t constitute a single entity because the judges think the NFL ultimately will win the underlying case sounds a lot like a man who is in deep denial regarding the fact that he lost.

If Pash is accurate, he should be distraught and disenchanted to think that the justice system would opt not to do the right thing in the first instance because of a belief that, after spending hundreds of thousands in additional legal fees, the NFL eventually will be exonerated.

Regardless of whether Pash’s theory has any applicability, the decision means that the NFL constantly will be forced to fight antitrust lawsuits on the merits — including the one that the union eventually may file upon decertification, just as it did after the failed strike of 1987.

Polygraph showed Jolly was "deceptive"

Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly Jr.’s felony drug trial continues to be pushed back, and he’s had harsher restrictions placed on his bond.  As for the latter development, we may have an additional explanation.

Court documents from May 19 reportedly show that Jolly was “deceptive” when quizzed about his bond stipulations by a polygraph services company.  The test was voluntary, but Jolly agreed to take it.  He just didn’t answer truthfully, readings showed.
In particular, Jolly was found to be most deceptive when asked two questions: 
1. Did you consume any alcoholic beverage since December 15, 2009?
2. Have you drank any alcohol that you’re deliberately not telling me about since last December 15th?
“It is this examiner’s professional opinion that the polygrams revealed that there was deception involved,” wrote Mike Boyd of Boyd, Smith & Associates at the time.  
Another examiner conducted the exam blind and came up with the same results.  Given the opportunity to come clean post-test, Jolly refused.
Pictures were discovered days later of Jolly with a drink in his hand.  Jolly was then ordered to submit a hair follicle test and abide by a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, among other things.

Raiders could be trying to set up an offset

Though we’ve yet to get our hands on a copy of the official contract signed by Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, a league source with knowledge of such documents has shared with us a theory regarding the grievance that the team has filed in an effort to recover more than $9 million in guaranteed base salary advances.

The thinking is that the Raiders could be hoping to secure a right to an offset against future earnings, if any, that Russell may generate.

Though his $3 million in guaranteed base salary for 2010 reportedly isn’t subject to an offset, it’s possible that the contract contains language that makes the future guaranteed base salaries vulnerable to reduction based on other earnings.

If so, the decision to file the grievance now, before Russell ever realizes alternative earnings, could be driven by the requirement that a non-injury grievance be filed within 45 days after the event giving rise to it.  If the Raiders were to wait until Russell generates money that would be subject to any offset requirement, Russell’s camp easily could argue that the Raiders are barred because they failed to file the grievance within 45 days after he was cut.

Or, alternatively, the whole thing is frivolous and the Raiders have no legitimate basis for the grievance.

Pat and Kevin Williams want StarCaps case to be over

Vikings starting defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams successfully finagled last Friday a stay of their four-game suspensions pending resolution of the appeal of a ruling that, even though the NFL violated their rights under Minnesota drug-testing laws, the suspensions must be served.

But while the decision to further delay the suspensions allows both men to play, presumably for at least all of the 2010 season, they want the case to end.

“It’s a good thing, but to us it’s not over,” Kevin Williams told Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  “It’s
just something that’s dragging it out even longer.  I think me and Pat
both want the situation to be over.  We’re trying to get the appeal
going, but we wish it would happen sooner than later.”

Vikings fans likely prefer a delay, given that the team seems to have a solid shot at being a serious contender again in 2011 — and in light of the reality that 37-year-old Pat Williams likely will retire after the coming season.

“That’s what I’m thinking,” Pat Williams said.  “Go win a championship and get out
of here.”

A negotiated settlement remains a possibility, at least from the players’ perspective.  “We want it to go away,” Kevin Williams said.  “If that being us settling
something, that’s settling something.  We’re not trying to go through
this another year I don’t think. . . .  We’re always open to settling
something, but [it has to be] fair.  Not just what they’re thinking. . . .

“I wish [the NFL] would take some ownership in what is going on. We took
the pills or whatnot, but there is some wrongdoing on their side too.”

Given that other players tested positive for Bumetanide and weren’t suspended, we propose the following terms for a settlement of the case:

1.  No suspension will be imposed on the players.

2.  The players will be fined in the amount of two game checks based on their 2008 base salaries.

3.  The NFL will make a contribution in an equal amount to the fine pool, which is donated to charity.

The same deal would then be offered to Saints defensive end Will Smith and free-agent defensive end Charles Grant. 

That said, Pat Williams probably should hold firm.  He’ll likely be long gone by the time this one is resolved, and so he’ll likely neither be fined nor suspended.

Report: Phillip Merling arrested after domestic dispute

P. Merlingmug.PNGA few days ago, we read a report that the starting left defensive end job in Miami was Phillip Merling’s to lose.

Well, here’s one way to lose it.

Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the third-year player was arrested Wednesday night after a domestic dispute with his pregnant girlfriend. 

(UPDATE: Merling is in Broward County jail after an arrest for aggravated battery on a woman.) 

Merling was part of Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland’s first draft class in Miami as the No. 32 overall pick in 2008.  He’s the fourth Miami Dolphin to be arrested since the end of the 2009 season.

Shanahan wasn't asked the money question on Santana Moss

So now that I’m back at the PFT controls and I’m looking over the more-than-capable efforts of MDS and Rosenthal (it’s always heartening to know that I could drop dead and the site would actually be better off), I noticed something on which I need to briefly comment.

On Wednesday, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan spoke fairly extensively regarding receiver Santana Moss, who has been implicated in the investigation of Dr. Anthony Galea for supplying athletes with hGH.  Said Shanahan:  “I sat down and talked to Santana today and we went through a bunch of situations that have happened to him and feel really good about where he is at.  I feel really good that he will, I don’t know if vindicated is the word, but I think when people find out all the facts he will be OK.”

Based on the transcript that was distributed by the team, it appears that Shanahan wasn’t asked a fairly relevant question.  Did he give Moss a lie-detector test?

We joke about the issue from time to time, but the wise-cracking is rooted in reality.  Shanahan said during his time with the Denver Broncos that he used the device on certain players who faced allegations of misconduct.  He did it most notably with receiver David Kircus, who was accused of assault and who claimed self-defense.

“I said, ‘Well David, I’ll give you a chance to take a
lie-detector test,’ and he wanted to do that,” Shanahan said.  “And he passed it with
flying colors
, so he will be on our football team.”

For all anyone knows, Shanahan got the same treatment on Wednesday.  I wonder whether the head coach also asked Moss if he ever watched pornographic videos.

Ellison told to stay away from team, could lose roster spot

Some players can afford to be arrested and not worry about losing their jobs.  Chargers safety Kevin Ellison is not one of those players.

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Ellison was told to stay away from the team’s minicamp this week, which puts his job in further danger.  Even before Ellison was pulled over for speeding and found with 100 pills of Vicodin, he was hardly a lock to make the team.

Now it appears like Ellison isn’t even a lock to be on the roster by training camp. A sixth-round pick, Ellison started started nine games as a rookie, but the team drafted Darrell Stuckey in the fourth round last month to add speed to the position.

The unfortunate timing of Ellison’s arrest could have him speeding right off the roster.

Source: Ellison didn't get Vicodin from Chargers

In explaining the presence of 100 Vicodin pills in the vehicle of Chargers safety Kevin Ellison, agent Jerome Stanley implied (in our opinion) that Ellison had gotten the pills from the team.

Though Stanley never said it (ergo our decision to use the word “implied”), the suggestion that he didn’t want to “go back and forth” and “have to bother anyone” for pills aimed at “last[ing] the season” due to “knee surgery” (which he had more than a year ago), it’s more than reasonable to assume that Stanley was indicating that Ellison got the Vicodin from his employer.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, however, Ellison didn’t get the Vicodin from the Chargers.

If the authorities fully investigate the situation, they’ll likely learn that the Chargers indeed did not give the Vicodin to Ellison, who may have a hard time proving that he got the drugs through legitimate means.

Which could make it hard for him to stay out of jail.

Pat, Kevin Williams officially file StarCaps appeal

When Judge Gary Larson ruled on Friday that the NFL won’t be permitted to suspend Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams pending appeal of Larson’s decision that they can be suspended even though the league violated Minnesota law in connection with their drug tests, Larson hinged the injunction on whether they formally appeal the ruling.

According to Rochelle Olson and Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, they have.

And so the suspensions will be blocked while the appellate process unfolds.  As a practical matter, it’ll take at least the full 2010 season for two levels of appeals to be exhausted.

Kevin Ellison case puts Vicodin glare on Chargers

News of the lawsuit filed against the Saints for allegedly covering up the misuse and/or theft of Vicodin from the team’s in-house drug locker raised serious questions regarding the manner in which NFL teams manage potent narcotics.

The arrest of Chargers safety Kevin Ellison serves only to amplify the problem.

According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, agent Jerome Stanley claims that Ellison had 100 Vicodin pills because he wanted to have enough on hand.  Ellison had knee surgery after his final season of college football.

“He thought it was a good idea to get enough pain killers to last the
,” Stanley said.  “They were for him to use
because of his knee surgery.”

We’re not sure which “season” Stanley was referring to.  Spring?  Summer?  If he means the 2010 football season, Ellison will likely need a lot more than 100.

Ellison supposedly did not want to “go back and forth” to the team for the medication, and he didn’t want to “have to bother anyone” for the pills.

Regardless of Ellison’s explanation, the implication is that the Chargers issued Ellison 100 Vicodin pills at once.  And the question becomes why they’d give him so many, especially since he’ll be at the facility on numerous occasions as part of offseason workouts.

So while the details on this one remain to be sorted out, we tend to think that more teams should follow the approach that one unnamed trainer shared not long ago with Gary Myers of the New York Daily News.  Teams shouldn’t keep their own supply of prescription medications.  They should simply have prescriptions issued by a physician directly to each player, and the requisite amounts should be provided to the players on a daily or weekly basis.