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Seeing through screen play

The Baltimore Sun

Yesterday, The Seattle Times published a blistering collection of stories critical of the University of Washington football program run by former Ravens offensive assistant Rick Neuheisel, who is the new head coach at UCLA.

While Washington had a tremendous season in 2000 under Neuheisel, the articles paint an alarming picture of star players routinely running afoul of the law and Neuheisel and athletic department officials doing far too little to rein in the players.

One article was about Jerramy Stevens, now a veteran NFL tight end of modest accomplishment who is probably best remembered by most fans for the handful of passes he dropped in the Super Bowl two years ago while playing for the Seattle Seahawks.

I knew little about Stevens then and felt a little sorry for the guy for lousing up in the biggest game of his life. Here's what I didn't know about the 6-foot-7, 260-pound tight end:

He had been accused of rape in college and although prosecutors are suspected of using questionable judgment in not charging him, a $300,000 payment was made to the victim years later on behalf of Stevens and a fraternity.

In high school, he admitted to jumping on an unconscious boy's face, breaking his jaw.

His vehicle has been involved in at least two hit-and-runs, once striking another vehicle and once slamming into a retirement home.

He has been picked up for driving on a suspended license twice and once for driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of .204, more than twice the legal limit.

Those are the highlights. There's some business about neighbors complaining of being showered with fireworks and vomit, some marijuana use while on home confinement and kicking a high school teammate in the testicles, but those things get lost in the shuffle when someone is as busy as Stevens.

Yet, despite these problems, the Seahawks drafted him in the first round in 2002 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him as a free agent before last season at a discount rate.

Too bad we all don't know a little bit more about these guys on game day. It would make it easier to know whom to root for and against.

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