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NFL’s bad boys could fill a team

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Almost every week it's the same old story in the NFL: violence, penalties, hard hits, unnecessary roughness, illegal procedures.

And that's just when the players are OFF the field.

The NFL off-season has been one long string of police reports, arrests, tragedies and trials, all of which comes on the heels of a season that consisted of more police reports and arrests. Probably there is something wrong when the people taking the hardest hits are the players' girlfriends.

With the recent indictments against Bill Romanowski, the bad news just keeps coming. You could assemble a good team just by picking over the police blotter, waiver wire and the NFL suspension list over the past year or so. All you'd lack is a quarterback (Kerry Collins has behaved too long since his last offense to qualify) and a couple of d-linemen.

How about this for the all-bad boy team?

Linebackers: Ray Lewis (NFL's leading tackler went on trial on a murder charge; pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice; also has been investigated twice for allegedly battering women who were pregnant with his children, though he was never formally charged, and was once accused of punching a woman in a bar); Romanowski (recently indicted on one count each of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and deceit and two counts of conspiracy); John Mobley (pleaded guilty to careless driving and drunken driving under a suspended license).

Defensive line: Tennessee's Josh Evans (suspended for the 2000 season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy).

Defensive backs: Denver's Cyron Brown (suspended for one year after violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy); Denver's Darrius Johnson (suspended for his third substance-abuse violation); Denver's Dale Carter (four-time offender of substance-abuse policy suspended for 2000 season); Tennessee's Denard Walker (suspended for one game for assaulting the mother of his child); Indianapolis' Steve Muhammad (charged and eventually cleared of battery against his pregnant wife, who later died from injuries sustained in a car wreck).

Running backs: A deep position. Miami's Cecil Collins (arrested in December and accused of burglarizing a woman's apartment); Arizona's Mario Bates (arrested on an accusation of slapping his girlfriend); Bam Morris (pleaded guilty to drug and money-laundering charges); Lawrence Phillips (yes, arrested once again after a woman was assaulted); Ricky Williams (spent two hours in jail after failing to sign a traffic ticket); Indianapolis running back Keith Elias (arrested outside a New Jersey bar and accused of disorderly conduct); Carolina's Fred Lane (arrested after marijuana and a rifle were found in his car — but was later shot to death following an argument with his wife).

Tight end: Packers All-Pro Mark Chmura (ordered to stand trial on sexual assault charges after his 17-year-old sitter testified he had sex with her without her consent).

Wide receiver: An outstanding position for our team. All-Pro Michael Irvin (arrested on drug charges again after recently announcing his retirement); Denver's Rod Smith (pleaded guilty to verbal harassment this summer as part of a plea bargain in which he reportedly assaulted the mother of his children); All-Pro Antonio Freeman (sentenced to a year's probation and ordered to pay fines for lying to police, obstructing police and failing to submit to a blood test after a December traffic accident. He also must pay the medical bills of a woman who was injured after his car jumped the curb and struck a light pole); Andre Rison (fined this month for giving false information to police after a bar fight; next month he'll go on trial on felony theft charges); Rae Carruth (waiting in jail for his murder trial); Wayne Chrebet (arrested outside a bar and accused of disorderly conduct, along with Elias).

Offensive line: Matt O'Dwyer, Jason Fabini and Jumbo Elliott (all three arrested after a barroom brawl that led to two-game suspensions by the NFL); Dallas' Solomon Page (arrested and accused of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct outside a bar).

Return specialist: Tamarick Vanover, Kansas City Chiefs (pleaded guilty in February to a federal charge of assisting in the sale of a stolen vehicle; also implicated in the drug trafficking case with Morris).

Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski (arrested in June when a police officer found him with the so-called date-rape drug, GHB. The arrest came eight days after a jury found the kicker not guilty of attempting to bribe an officer).

Coach: Jon Gruden (pleaded no contest to alcohol-related reckless driving).


E-MAIL: drob@desnews.com