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Bad times for kickers

Sports blotter: "Not so high on the hog" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  July 16, 2008

Snap judgment
Here’s a depressing-ass story that tells you everything you need to know about the life of a retired mediocre athlete. Anyone out there remember Tony Zendejas? So-so kicker for the Rams, Oilers, Falcons, and Niners in the ’80s and ’90s, once went 17-for-17 in a season. Now 48 years old, he owns a sports bar in Los Angeles County. And he was arrested for rape this past week.

It seems some woman came into Zendejas’s bar back in January, drank a cocktail he handed her, then woke up groggy and sore in a motel some time later. She talked, cops investigated, and this past week Zendejas was charged with one count each of rape by use of drugs, rape of an unconscious person, sodomy by anesthesia or controlled substance, and sodomy of an unconscious victim.

It’s been an ugly few years for NFL kickers, especially ex–Rams kickers. In June 2007, former Rams punter Rick Tuten was busted for dealing hot flat-screen TVs in Ocala, Florida. It turns out Tuten was buying stolen goods, particularly electronics and recreational vehicles, and reselling them.

Zendejas faces up to 15 years if a jury ends up serving him the whole meal. And he’ll deserve it, too. Give him 90 points minimum — plus an extra five for being a kicker.

Chop chop chop
Jacksonville Jaguar Matt Jones represents one of those ideas that never felt quite right. Sure, there have been plenty of athletic college quarterbacks drafted by canny NFL teams who subsequently converted them into quality wideouts. Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El come to mind, as does Drew Bennett. Even Seneca Wallace is okay. All those guys had one thing in common, though — they were lowish draft picks. Nobody picked them in the first round and gave them huge money to play a position they had never played before at any level above high school. Nobody was crazy enough to do that.

But they did it for Matt Jones, an oversize good ol’ boy who broke the SEC record for career QB rushing yards while at Arkansas. Jones stood 6-6 and had 4.4 speed — not to mention the silliest white-man hair on an NFL draftee since Brian Bosworth. NFL GMs drooled over him as the future white-trash version of Randy Moss, but Moss could catch a football and actually run routes. Jones was just sort of big and could run fast in a straight line. And, as it turns out, blow coke in the offseason.

Jones was busted this past week near the campus of his alma mater, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, when cops spotted him chopping lines of cocaine with a credit card with two other dudes in a car. Police approached the car and were forced to draw guns when Jones didn’t show his hands quickly enough. They eventually searched the vehicle and found a baggie with six grams of coke in it, plus a jar containing what they describe as “possible marijuana residue.”

Although Jones was booked on felony possession charges, police, in a rare show of restraint, did not slap him with intent-to-distribute, even though he had more than the legal requirement for the charge. (It’s about time the district attorneys of America realized that, when an NFL player has six grams of coke on him, he’s not dealing — he’s got just enough to keep his friends happy for eight minutes or so. In fact, an NFL player caught with less than six grams of coke should be charged with being a crappy host.)

Anyway, this might be the last straw for Jones. Bulging-eyeballed Jaguar coach Jack Del Rio benched him for three games this past year and also brought in talented malcontent Jerry Porter and butter-fingered speedster Troy Williamson. The writing, as they say, is on the wall — and was even before this bust. Give him 10 points, and stay tuned to see how long he survives.

Meanwhile, Jags defensive back Brian Williams has been acquitted of a DUI from two years ago. Cops in Jacksonville nailed him in September 2006 after they said he swerved in front of a police car. Williams claimed he wasn’t intoxicated and fought the charge. Two years later, he’s off the hook. There are some happy endings in the sports-crime pages.

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  Topics: Sports , Pittsburgh Steelers , College Football , Jacksonville Jaguars ,  More more >
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