Matt Leinart's Saga and Other Offseason Acts With Their Corresponding Penalties
The NFL off season is a time where these superb athletes are afforded some much needed time off to relax and rest their weary bodies after enduring months of punishment.
However, in recent years, the NFL off season has also become notorious for the ridiculous choices that some of these athletes make while they’re away from the game of football.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be 25 years old and essentially have unlimited money and a lot of free time on your hands, the actions of these NFL players should give you some insight into that lifestyle.
Each of these off season actions is different in their own right and they run the gamut from harmless to alleged serious violations of the law and everything in between.
While playing football throughout their lives, each of these players has been whistled for a few penalties along the way, and perhaps Roger Goodell should consider hiring some referees to follow these guys around during the off season, maybe that would keep them in line.
In any event, here are some of the biggest stories of the off season including some indiscretions and their accompanying penalties.
Equipment Violation: Dez Bryant
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The media probably blew this incident out of proportion, but during the first few days of Cowboys training camp, their first-round draft pick, Dez Bryant, refused to participate in an age old NFL tradition of carrying veteran Roy Williams pads.
This refusal was an especially juicy topic for the media because Bryant’s character had been seriously questioned by many NFL teams as well as the fact that Bryant and Williams were essentially competing for the second wide receiver spot on the Cowboys offense.
After being chastised by many media outlets and former players, Bryant backtracked a few days later and said he wasn’t aware of the tradition and it seems that since this incident the two receivers have smoothed things over.
But Dez Bryant refusing to carry Roy Williams’ pads was definitely an equipment violation.
Illegal Contact: Ben Roethlisberger
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This was one of the most serious offenses perpetrated by an NFL player this off season, as Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a college student in a bathroom of a Georgia night club.
After a full investigation into the events of that regrettable evening in Georgia, the charges against Big Ben were dropped.
However, the damage has been done to Roethlisberger’s reputation, especially after he was already dealing with litigation stemming from a prior accusation of sexual assault that allegedly occurred in the summer of 2008 between the Super Bowl winning quarterback and an employee of a Nevada casino.
It’s difficult to say with certainty what actually happened in that Milledgeville bathroom on that March night, but what we can say for certain is that Ben Roethlisberger spending his off season in a college bar with 20 year olds is absolutely illegal contact.
Illegal Hands to the Face: LeGarrette Blount
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Most people’s lasting memory of former Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount was of him delivering a vicious right hook to the chin of Boise State’s Byron Hout.
That shot cost Blount pretty much his entire senior season, and turned him from a guy with legit NFL aspirations into one who most teams wouldn’t even go near because of character issues.
Luckily for Blount, he decided to put his potential boxing career on the backburner and managed to catch on with the Tennessee Titans as an un-drafted rookie.
But was anyone really surprised when the fiery Blount threw yet another punch during a training camp skirmish with Eric Bakhtiari?
While these things happen all the time during training camp, and this particular dust up wasn’t a big deal especially as an isolated incident, you have to wonder about the mental make up of a player who apparently didn’t learn anything considering how much he lost the first time he threw an ill-advised punch.
Too Many Men on the Field: Antonio Cromartie
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In this year’s version of HBO’s Hard Knocks, one of the more buzz worthy topics that came out of the highly entertaining inside look at the Jets preparation for the 2010 season was the absurd amount of children that Antonio Cromartie has fathered.
Even though Cromartie didn’t father any of his eight children this off season, he gets the lifetime achievement award for too many men on the field.
It’s hard to believe that Cromartie has fathered so many kids with so many different women, but I guess we know what he’s been doing with his free time over the last few off seasons and it absolutely involves some R. Kelly and Keith Sweat records on repeat.
Hopefully for Antonio, he will play a long time in the NFL and make a lot of money, because having to pay child support for eight kids (and counting) isn’t going to be cheap.
Holding (Out): Darrelle Revis, Logan Mankins, Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeil
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It seems that before every NFL season starts there will be a few guys who are unhappy enough with their contracts that they choose to holdout for more money.
The 2010 off season has been no different as some of the league’s biggest stars, such as Chris Johnson and Andre Johnson, threatened to sit out if they weren’t properly compensated.
While both Johnson’s have since resolved their disputes, four very good players remain absent from their respective teams and have left some big shoes to fill.
Revis, Mankins, Jackson, and McNeill are the four biggest holdouts left as we close in on the first week of regular season NFL action, and there’s no denying how important each player is to their respective teams.
There’s still time for any or all of these players to work out their contracts and regardless of whether or not you believe in the merits of holding out as a way to resolve contract issues, the fact remains that the Jets, Patriots, and Chargers will miss these players if they’re not able to come to some kind of resolution before the start of the season.
Neutral Zone Infraction: Albert Haynesworth
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It would seem that the 6’6’’ monster of a man spent most of his time this off season stuck in neutral as he came into camp out of shape and with a sore knee which caused him to fail the team’s routine conditioning test three times before finally passing on the fourth attempt.
Haynesworth was the only Redskins player who had to pass the test before he was allowed to practice with the team, because the $100 million dollar man decided to sit out of the teams off season conditioning program.
As a professional athlete, especially one who is as well compensated as Haynesworth, there’s no excuse for showing up to camp out of shape, because a big part of your job is to be in shape when the season starts.
But at least Hayneworth’s biggest off season indiscretion was simply him sitting around eating Ring Dings rather than being out at a strip club.
Excessive Celebration: Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens
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One of the bigger off season mysteries was what team would take a chance on the embattled veteran receiver, Terrell Owens. While Owens has had one of the finest careers catching the football the NFL has ever seen, he will turn 37 in December and has absolutely lost a step or two.
In spite of this, the Cincinnati Bengals took a one year flyer on the 15 year veteran to provide Carson Palmer with yet another viable receiving option in the passing game.
Owens arrival in Cincinnati means that he and Chad Ochocinco will make the most outspoken, over the top, receiving duo the NFL has seen in a very long time.
Over the years, both players have been known for their creative (and excessive) touchdown merriment and now that they’re on the same team it seems that a touchdown scored by either one will result in a Mardi Gras type celebration.
Who knows exactly what kinds of celebrations these two will hatch up; maybe they’ll rip a DB’s head off like a Mortal Kombat fatality, or maybe they’ll pants head coach Marvin Lewis, but whatever they do, it will absolutely be excessive considering that they only scored six points.
Unnecessary Roughness: Vince Young
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Earlier this summer, Vince Young found himself at a Dallas strip club looking to relax and have a good time. While it might not be the best choice Young could’ve made if he wanted a relaxing evening, it’s a fairly acceptable nighttime venue especially for professional athletes.
But later that evening, Young was caught on camera getting into a fight with one of the strip clubs employees because they allegedly made disparaging comments to Young about his Alma mater, the University of Texas.
Vince Young going into beast mode and needing to be restrained at a strip club because some employee said a couple of things about him and the college he went to is the clearest case of unnecessary roughness I’ve seen in a long time.
Pass Interference: Matt Leinart and Ken Whisenhunt
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After the retirement of Kurt Warner, it seemed to be all but written in stone that the team’s former first round pick, Matt Leinart, would be taking over as the Cardinals starting quarterback.
But something funny happened during the time that Kurt Warner retired and the beginning of September, because as things stand now, it would seem that Derek Anderson will be the Cardinals starting quarterback and the team has been engaged in discussions with a few teams about the possibility of trading Leinart.
While Leinart hasn’t played particularly well during the preseason, he didn’t really play very much either, and Derek Anderson’s performance wasn’t head and shoulders above what Leinart was able to do.
Maybe head coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t like Leinart’s cologne, or maybe he doesn’t like the seemingly never ending parade of internet pictures which show Leinart partying and being involved with three-foot beer bongs.
But whatever the case may be it’s pretty clear that Whisenhunt doesn’t like Leinart and doesn’t want him starting for the Cardinals.
It’s tough to say what happened between Whisenhunt and Leniart, but their relationship definitely soured somewhere along the line, and as it stands, it doesn’t look like Leinart will be making an impact in 2010, which looks like pass interference to me.
Delay of Game: Brett Favre
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Just like he did last year, Favre strung everyone along until the middle of August and kept his plans about the 2010 season a secret.
Not only did he falsely announce his retirement once again, but it seemed pretty clear that all the posturing and musing Favre was doing about coming back was simply a stalling tactic to allow him to sit out from Vikings training camp without actually saying he didn’t want to put his 40 year-old body through the grind of two-a-days.
Anyone who had been following this situation closely was pretty certain that Favre would be coming back to a stacked Minnesota roster but he delayed and delayed while waiting for the calendar to advance to the middle of August before finally making it official.
And for his drawn out decision process, Brett Favre gets flagged for delay of game.
Ineligible Receiver Downfield: Steve Smith
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In what was one of the more bizarre stories of the off season, Panthers star wide receiver, Steve Smith broke his let forearm while playing in a game of flag football.
It’s awkward enough when superstar athletes suffer injuries during the off season while they are engaged in an activity they shouldn’t be doing, but for Smith, a man who has played in over 120 NFL games to break his arm playing a game of flag football is hard to believe.
Obviously, this was a freak accident that occurred while Smith was simply enjoying himself at his annual youth football camp.
Seeing as he was already coming off of a broken arm he sustained during the Panthers last game of the regular season he probably shouldn’t have been playing in any type of recreational football game that wasn’t part of his obligation to the Carolina Panthers.
As it stands, Steve Smith was an ineligible receiver downfield as he should’ve never been playing in this flag football game in the first place.
Illegal Participation: Michael Vick and His Birthday Party
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Michael Vick has definitely been through his share of controversy over the last few years and he has become one of the most polarizing people in sports today.
You would think that a guy who has been through as much as Vick, including serving jail time as well as becoming a pariah to animal lovers everywhere, and being on federal probation, would try to keep his name out of the papers and essentially lay low so he can focus on resurrecting his once promising football career.
But Vick decided to throw himself a 30th birthday party in Virginia Beach which was open to the public as long as they paid an entry fee of $50.
Unfortunately for Vick, there was a shooting that took place at around two in the morning during which, one of Vick’s co-defendants, Quanis Phillips, was wounded, although the injuries he sustained were not life threatening.
In this instance, there’s no proof that Vick was in any way connected to this shooting, but after all he’s been through, Vick should know better than to put himself into vulnerable situations, because whether it’s a coincidence or not, bad things seem to be finding Michael Vick.