Superbowl Has Criminal Lineup of Champions

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The National Football League's Superbowl XXXIV this Sunday will not only be a game of so-called champions but also a battle between 13 professional athletes who've been charged with 20 crimes including one convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

"There will also be a convicted thief playing running back, a prostitute's john in the defensive backfield, a drunken driver on the field and a man convicted of negligent homicide patrolling at linebacker," reads a report by APBnews, a criminal justice news web site.

In a study of the 116 players gathered in Atlanta for the NFL's championship game the agency found an 11 percent arrest rate for those participating in Sunday's event.

St. Louis Rams linebacker Leonard Little pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter after appearing as a celebrity bartender at a St. Louis hotel. An intoxicated Little ran a red light in his Lincoln Navigator hitting Susan Gutweiler in October 1998. She died the next day. Gutweiler's husband has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Little and the Rams, contending that his celebrity appearance was a part of his contract.

Little, whose blood alcohol limit was almost twice the legal limit, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He was suspended by the NFL for eight games and was reinstated last November.

For his conviction, Little received 90 nights in jail, but was allowed to go free during the day. He also received four years probation and ordered to serve 1,000 hours of community service. Little still has about a third of his sentence remaining, according to the report.

Tennessee Titans' defensive back Steve Jackson was arrested in Nashville last May for soliciting a prostitute. Jackson entered a conditional guilty plea and received 11 months and 29 days of unsupervised probation. He was ordered to be tested for HIV and pay $294.50 in court costs. If he stays out of trouble Jackson's case will be dismissed in April.

Another Titans defensive back, Denard Walker, also entered a conditional guilty plea, this time to misdemeanor assault beating his former girlfriend. Walker was sentenced to probation which ends in August.

St. Louis Rams linebacker Charlie Clemons was charged in 1995 with carrying a weapon on school property and carrying a concealed weapon, two felonies in Clarke County, Georgia while he attended the University of Georgia. According to the report, those charges against Clemons were dismissed more than seven months after a June 5 trial date was set.

Then, on January 12, 1996, Clemons was charged with three misdemeanors including carrying a concealed weapon, reckless conduct and discharging a gun near a public street.

After he reportedly plead guilty to all three counts, Clemons was sentenced a year of probation for each count and fined $1,150.

Rams wide receiver Tony Horne was charged in 1992 with felony possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Richmond County, North Carolina. Horne pleaded guilty after reportedly plea-bargaining his case and was fined $285. In 1994, Horne was charged with simple assault. He was fined $2006 and ordered to make restitution.

Rams center Ryan Tucker was indicted by a grand jury for the May 1996 beating of Bryan Boyd outside of Bobby McGee's, a bar in Fort Worth, Texas. Tucker was charged with "aggravated assault-serious bodily injury," according to the report and his hands and feet were listed as "deadly weapon(s)."

Boyd and four other Texas Christian University football players allegedly punched and kicked Boyd almost to death. Boyd survived the attack although he was not expected to live. Investigators initially approached the investigation as a potential homicide, according to the report.

In 1994 Rams running back Justin Watson was charged with four misdemeanors including one for burglary and three for theft by credit card. Watson was also charged with grand theft, a felony. The misdemeanor charges were dismissed, but Watson pleaded no contest to the felony and received two years probation, two days in jail and fined $815.

CNSNews.com's phones calls to the NFL Player's Association were not returned.