Chris Uggen's Blog: unsteady eddie

Sunday, July 02, 2006

unsteady eddie

after blogging on athlete misconduct and the nba age-crime curve last year, i tried to sidestep the whole vikings love boat and whizzinator scandals. nevertheless, it is difficult for a criminologist to avoid comment on eddie griffin of my star-crossed t-wolves. mr. griffin just turned 24, but has already accumulated a most impressive criminal history for a young millionaire.

as a houston rocket, he was convicted of marijuana possession, but this hardly seems deviant in the nba. mr. griffin quickly violated probation and, in a separate 2004 incident, he was arrested for assaulting a woman and firing a gun at her. here's where i get off the bus. i'm all for reintegrating substance users -- and for picking up 6-foot-10 shotblockers on the cheap -- but the whole "discharging firearms" thing bespeaks a recklessness that, in hindsight, might have given the wolves a bit more pause.

if you haven't heard about last march's sensational, um, carjacking incident, a new lawsuit and video guarantees that you will soon. i must point out that the specific allegations remain unproven and came to light as part of a civil suit to extract money from mr. griffin. nevertheless, you can watch video of an admittedly drunken mr. griffin slamming his escalade into a vehicle at great speed. the camera then captures him offering to buy a new vehicle for the victim (though he was sober enough to exempt bentleys from said offer), attempting to put on a sweatshirt, and staggering about a local convenience store. the police officers, who each year take home about 1 percent of mr. griffin's $5.6 million annual salary, are overheard saying that he will not get a dwi. i'd imagine that they, and the minneapolis police department more generally, will be asked to explain this decision in some detail.

what makes the incident especially newsworthy, however, is the following allegation in the new lawsuit:

that at the time of the accident and all relevant time frames before, Defendant Griffin was under the influence of alcohol and negligently not paying attention to the direction of travel ahead of him due in part to the fact that he was watching a pornographic DVD which was displayed on a mounted in-dash DVD player, located near the steering column, in his Escalade vehicle. In addition, at the time, with one or both hands, he was manually manipulating his...

oh my. i won't go on, but you probably get the idea. i can't even execute a simple phone call while driving sober at 30 miles per hour and my jeep doesn't even have a cd player. surely only great athletes such as michael jordan or ted williams could possibly have the hand-eye coordination needed to simultaneously drive drunk, watch video, and manually manipulate themselves (though i've heard stories about babe ruth on trains that suggest he might have been up to the task).

i reported before that the age-crime curve peaks at 23-24 for nba players. those data showed a later peak for nba arrests than for the general population, but there's not enough information to really explore why this is so. mr. griffin's wild ride leads one to speculate about a sports culture of entitlement, but his case would appear to be an outlier in many ways. still, it is odd that i've never heard such a colorful tale about a musician, actor, drug dealer, or politician.

i'd like to know whether my wolves must pay mr. griffin the $5.6 million he is scheduled to receive this season or whether they could put it toward, say, ben wallace. although the star-crossed t-wolves have made some pretty silly deals in the past, i hope they had enough foresight to insist on a good-behavior clause for the gun-totin' mr. griffin. i mean, this guy is gonna hurt somebody.


At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Dave @ Radio Free Newport said...

Yes, but what about the rash of crimes by sports mascots? From Deadspin:

You’re probably tired of hearing about NBA mascots attacking the police while driving mini-motorcycles at outdoor festivals — we know we are — but this one has a slight twist. The mascot, Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls, threw a punch at a sheriff’s deputy, knocking off his glasses. The best part (to us) is that, when the police tried to stop Benny, he ran. He had naturally assumed that he could get away and blend into the crowd, while wearing a bright red Bull costume and riding a tiny motorcycle. Barry Anderson, 27, was charged with misdemeanor battery and driving within a parkway.

Oh, and this was the last graph of the AP story: “In 2005, another Bulls mascot, Da Bull, was sentenced to probation for 11/2 years for possession of cannabis with intent to deliver.”


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