Playing the Field: Extreme Punishments
As I was browsing the website for ESPN the other day, something I frequently do to waste time, I came across a headline that instantly caught my eye. It read "Reports: Khabibulin facing extreme DUI charge." Nikolai Khabibulin is the goalie for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League, and earlier this month was arrested in Arizona for drunk driving. On Sunday, the state of Arizona decided to levy additional charges, penalizing him for what they call "extreme drunk driving." My first thought was that an extreme DUI must consist not only of driving drunk, but of getting hammered, getting in your car, and driving it off a ramp to do back flips over a shark tank. As it turns out, to get an extreme DUI in Arizona, you just need to be driving with a BAC that is extremely high. Regardless, to do anything that gets "extreme" added to the crime that you are being charged with means that you must have done something very dumb. So it got me thinking about other athletes at the top of their games who have taken stupidity to the extreme in their criminal antics. I have, in the past, written about high-profile criminal athletes, such as Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick, O.J. Simpson. What morons. But today I will dive into the criminal stupidity of some lesser-known, EXTREME criminal athletes.
Extreme is the only word to describe the tomfoolery of Nate Newton, a former offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, who made six Pro Bowls and won three Super Bowls alongside Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. Sadly, his skill on the football field outshone his common sense. In late 2001, Newton was arrested when police officers found a whopping 213 pounds of marijuana in his car. Five weeks later, while out on bail, Newton was arrested again. This time, police only found 175 pounds of marijuana in his car. Seriously, this guy made Cheech and Chong look like a couple of DEA agents...
Still, Newton seems like a good guy compared to Mike Danton, a former hockey player for the New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues. Danton was released from prison only a few months ago after serving 63 months of what was originally a 90 month sentence, for conspiracy to commit murder (and no, there is no such thing as extreme conspiracy to commit murder). Danton was fed up with his agent, David Frost, so he attempted to hire a hitman to kill him. Only problem was that the so-called hitman was actually a police dispatcher. Oops. As it turns out, Frost might have had it coming. He later faced 12 separate charges of sexual exploitation. He was found not guilty, but clearly was not much of a class act.
But the extreme tag might be best applied to Art Schlichter, a former quarterback for the Colts and the Bills who, shall we say, had an extreme affinity for gambling. As in, lost 700,000 dollars gambling during the 1982 NFL strike. It was not too long before he was banned from the NFL after being arrested as part of a multi-million dollar gambling ring. He briefly resurfaced in the Arena Football League, but that stint was cut short due to his gambling. By his own count, he has committed at least 20 felonies; when his gambling debts got too big, he would steal or con money from friends, to continue his gambling habit. Between 1995 and 2006, he spent a combined ten years in prison for gambling related charges, but managed to convince his lawyer to sneak him a cell phone in prison just so he could continue gambling. Schlichter now lives with his mother and is working to pay back the estimated 1.5 million dollars he owes in restitution. However, Schlichter has turned his life around and now runs a non-profit organization that aims to educate others about the perils of compulsive gambling.
So never fear! No matter how extreme your crime may be, there is still time to go back to the right side of the law.