Two sayings to capture this year’s “hype week” leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII:
1. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
2. New York City, the city that never sleeps.
Despite the Super Bowl being the biggest annual sporting event on earth, and despite the exponentially growing scrutiny that the game and events surrounding the game receive, that almost never stops at least one or two moronic NFL players, either playing in the game or just in town for the game, from committing some of the most head scratching and, sometimes, dangerous acts.
The last few years have been fairly light on off field drama during “build up week,” with the closest thing to a talking point handed to us, the media, being San Francisco cornerback Chris Culliver’s homophobic rant last year in a radio interview.
But it wasn’t all that long ago that criminal drama in the week leading up to the game seemed like part of the annual agenda, like media day and the Playboy party!
If we are putting together a Mount Rushmore of pre game incidents, that touches each of the bases on the crime diamond, it probably goes like this:
DRUGS, Super Bowl XXIII, 1989
Back in 1989, Bengals fullback Stanley Wilson failed to show up for the Saturday team meeting the night before Super Bowl XXIII. Wilson had told some teammates that he forgot his playbook, but when it was clear there was something bigger going on, some teammates went to his room and found him overdosed on cocaine, shaking and sweaty. Wilson never played in the Super Bowl, and the Bengals lost without him, 2016.
SOLICITING A PROSTITUTE, Super Bowl XXXIII, 1999
My how things can change in 24 hours. Leading up to the Super Bowl back in 1999, Falcons safety Eugene Robinson was presented with the NFL’s Bart Starr Award, honoring his high moral character. Hours later, he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Miami. Robinson was bailed out by game day, but perhaps the Falcons would have been better off without him, as he was burned on an 80 yard touchdown by Rod Smith in the second quarter of a 34-19 loss to the Broncos.
MURDER, Super Bowl XXXIV, 2000
Amidst his celebrated career, his confetti littered sendoff, and his now burgeoning television career, we forget that Ray Lewis was in the crosshairs of going away for life for the stabbing murder of two people at the Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2000. (Technically, this occurred the night after the Super Bowl, but we count it for Super Bowl chicanery Mount Rushmore purposes.) Murder charges were eventually dropped, but Lewis was convicted of obstruction of justice. The story grew legs again the following season when Lewis’ Ravens actually played in the Super Bowl, with Lewis taking home MVP honors in about of the Giants.
MISSING PERSON, Super Bowl XXXVII, 2003
You have enough Super Bowls in San Diego and I suppose it’s just a matter of time before a player wanders over the border the night before the game. That’s what happened on January 25, 2003, the night before Super Bowl XXXVII when Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl center Barrett Robbins took off for a Tijuana drinking binge, and was promptly sent home by head coach Bill Callahan. (As it turned out, Robbins was suffering from bi-polar disorder and depression.) The Raiders got smoked the next night 48-21 by Tampa Bay.
Bringing this whole thing back around, I bring up these examples to reiterate the fact that we are in New York for the Super Bowl, the city that never sleeps, where bars are open literally until all hours of the night, and all flavors on the debauchery menu are there to be served on a silver platter with the touch of a an iPhone or a short cab ride.
Hell, we are even just a scant few hours from Atlantic City, which is basically New York’s Tijuana.
In short, we are due for a Super Bowl week whopper. It’s been too long.