Scramble for the Ball
Fantasy football, the Loser League, and general goofiness

Scramble's Felony Football League

Scramble's Felony Football League
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Ben Riley and Vince Verhei

We can finally say this without fear of a libel lawsuit: O.J. Simpson is guilty, guilty, guilty -- of multiple counts of kidnapping and armed robbery. Hey, it's a start.

In, er, "honor" of the NFL's most notorious alumnus, we've decided to kick off the inaugural Felony Football League. For this contest, each of us drafted a team of six NFL players most likely to commit crimes in the future:

  • One major felon (a player who has been tried and/or convicted of major crimes;
  • three multiple arrestees (players who just can't seem to stay out of trouble);
  • one flex criminal (a former NFL player who is still crime-prone);
  • and one guy with no prior record (wild card).

We then needed to set up a scoring system, and decided on the following:

  • 10 points per arrest;
  • 20 points for misdemeanor conviction;
  • 30 points for a felony conviction;
  • 1 bonus point for each year sentenced to prison.

We flipped a coin (which was later stolen) and Ben won, so he gets the first pick. Ben?

Ben: First pick: Adam "Pacman" Jones, CB, Dallas (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Too long to even begin to recap here. Suffice to say most of The-Man-Jerry-Jones-Will-Only-Call-Adam's arrests involve assault and battery, strippers, and gunfire. Yet, amazingly, he has no felony convictions. Yet.
Reason for pick: It bears repeating: most of Jones's arrests involve physical violence, "making it rain," and various weaponry. Anyone who watched Hard Knocks this summer knows it's only a matter of time before this experiment goes horribly, feloniously bad. Pacman is the pre-2008 LaDainian Tomlinson of Felony Fantasy Football.

Vince: First pick: Terry "Tank" Johnson, DT, Dallas (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: A variety of gun law violations, exacerbated by his tendency to violate parole repeatedly.
Reason for pick: Johnson's troubles with guns run from the ticky-tack (carrying a gun in a vehicle is illegal in Illinois, but not in many other states) to the scary (multiple loaded, unlicensed weapons were found in his house in a December, 2006 search). In February of that same year, he was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest -- while on probation. It's that knack for committing one crime while still serving the punishment for the other that makes Johnson such a solid pick.

Ben: Second pick: Travis Henry, RB, U.S. Penitentiary, Florence, Colo. (Out of league)
Criminal history: Recently arrested for threatening to kill two accomplices for failing to repay $40,000 in stolen money, and attempting to purchase 11 pounds (!) of cocaine. Also has approximately 376 pending paternity suits filed against him.
Reason for pick: With charges pending against him that could net him anywhere from 10 years to life, he's a lock to rack up 30 felony points. Plus, now I can name my team "People Can Judge Me All They Want (But Only God Can Judge Me)."

Vince: Second pick: Michael Vick, QB, U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas (Major felon)
Criminal history: One of the highest-paid, highest-profile athletes in America, Vick spent his spare time for several years running an underground dogfighting ring. More than a year after this came to light, the mind still reels at the stupidity.
Reason for pick: For most of these picks, we're more or less betting that these guys will commit crimes again. Vick is something of a sure thing, because he is still awaiting trial for something he's done in the past -- remember, he's in federal prison on racketeering charges. The state of Virginia is still waiting to try him for dogfighting charges once his federal sentence expires in 2009. This pick is basically a win-win for me. If Vick is tried and convicted, I get points; if not, I get to look forward to him running wild in whatever the hell that new football league is going to be called.

Ben: Nice Vick pick. Does this mean you are going to name your team "Ron Mexico's Amores Perros?" Never mind, on with the draft:

Third pick: Jerramy Stevens, TE, Tampa Bay (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Stevens was arrested in Arizona in March 2007 for driving with a blood alcohol level of .204, also known as "Extreme DUI", along with accusations of rape, assault with a baseball bat, and permitting vomit to accumulate on his neighbors doors. Speaking of vomitous, he's also the only Seahawks player to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.
Reason for pick: I used to draft this guy every year in my real fantasy league, waiting for him to break out in Holmgren's West Coast offense. That never really worked out, but in Jon Gruden's "If you can play, you can party" policy, I'm feeling good about the chances for Stevens to finally pay off for me.

Vince: Third pick: Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans (Wild card)
Criminal history: None. Shockey lives a life filled with fire water and fiery women, which some may disapprove of, but is not illegal in this country. Thank God.
Reason for pick: Shockey lives a life filled with fire water and fiery women, and he makes his living in New Orleans, Louisiana, "the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Mississipi." I'm not saying he's going to be found face down in a pile of cocaine or anything, but I can see him stumbling around at 4:30 in the morning wearing far less clothing than the law allows.

Ben: Not bad, not bad, although he probably would be there for you a round later. In the meantime, I take...

Fourth pick: Chris Henry, WR, Cincinnati (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Multiple arrests for assault and various substance-abuse issues. In a related story, did you know that Henry played with Pacman Jones at West Virginia?
Reason for pick: Because how could we do a felony fantasy draft without at least one Bengals player being drafted?

Vince: Bastard! I was taking him next!

Fourth pick: Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Arrested for driving boats and cars while intoxicated -- both this year -- plus resisting arrest. Desperate for running backs, the Bengals picked him up. Meanwhile, Shaun Alexander is still unemployed. This all speaks volumes about all three of these parties.
Reason for pick: Because how could we do a felony fantasy draft without at least two Bengals players being drafted? Besides, Benson has already been busted twice year. Surely he's got another one in him!

Ben: Vince, all I can tell you is, some some some I murder, some some some I let go ... and Shaun Alexander is M.I.A.

Fifth pick: Matt Leinart, Backup QB, Arizona (Wild card)
Criminal history: If getting a USC cheerleader pregnant is crime, lock me up.
Reason for pick: There is a whiff of the Ryan Leaf to Leinart, an immature (though talented) quarterback who seems more interested in beer-bong based underage extracurriculars than being, you know, a professional NFL quarterback. If the Cardinals make the playoffs (likely!) and Kurt Warner somehow leads them into the Super Bowl (admittedly not likely, but check out their DVOA thus far), I see drunken tabloid messiness and an arrest south of the border.

Vince: Fifth pick: Alonzo Spellman, defensive lineman, Bears/Cowboys/Lions (Out of league)
Criminal history: You name it -- terroristic threats, unruly behavior on an airplane, and just this year, he's led Oklahoma police on a high-speed chase and pulled a knife on a random driver outside Philadelphia.
Reason for pick: I feel bad about this one, because Spellman is pretty clearly crazy; he also once holed himself up in his publicist's house for eight hours (there's a tough job, by the way, Alonzo Spellman's publicist) and was later found walking around frigid Chicago wearing only a white hospital gown. He has also been clinically diagnosed as bipolar. Still, crazy is as crazy does, and when you're crazy like Alonzo Spellman, you tend to draw police attention.

Ben: Sixth pick: Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens (Major felony)
Criminal history: Murder was the case the gave Ray-Ray.
Reason for pick: The truth is, the case against Lewis for murder was extraordinarily weak, but would you want to cross him? Seriously? Especially after his half-brother got cut from the Cowboys this year? I say no, and I say he's my Major Felon.

Vince: A Snoop Dogg reference. Cunning, Riley.

Sixth pick: Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Compared to his domestic violence charges, his October 2007 DUI seems like child play.
Reason for pick: Did you read that last sentence? Between the alleged woman-beating, the drunk driving, and the fact that he stumbled through a glass table this offseason, Marshall's as good a bet as anyone to wind up on the wrong side of the law.

Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.

Keep Choppin' Wood

Although Sage Rosenfels made a strong showing this week, he played pretty well before his fourth-quarter meltdown, so KCW goes instead this week to Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. After Reggie Bush returned a punt for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter, Vikings head coach Brad Childress claims he ordered Kluwe to punt everything out of bounds. Instead, Kluwe booted two additional kicks to The Player Who Mike Tanier And Bill Barnwell Like to Bet On, one of which was returned for (another) touchdown, another which would have if Bush hadn't fallen down. Although the Vikings still eked out a victory (thanks to another KCW runner-up, Saints kicker Martin Gramatica), Kluwe's inability to master the art of the angle almost cost Minnesota the game -- and probably cost Kluwe his job.

Loser League

QB: You don't need me to tell you that Jon Kitna was the biggest loser among quarterbacks in Week 5; he was just benched for Dan Orlovsky, after all. For clerical purposes, let it be know that Kitna posted a 1 against the Bears.

RB: You'll probably see a lot of Steelers opponents in this space before the year is out. Fred Taylor is the latest, going for 25 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches, scoring a 1.

WR: He was catching passes from the Kitna-Orlovsky Connection, so it's hard to blame Mike Furrey for notching 8 yards, worth a 0.

K: It's not Nick Novak's fault he scored a 0. The Chiefs are so putrid, so lousy, that not only were they shut out, but they never even got close enough to the goal line for Novak to attempt a field goal. Lordy.


33 comments, Last at 01 Sep 2010, 9:07am

1 Loser League

Kyle Orton is just killing my Loser League team. I got hit with three penalties this week (JaMarcus Russel, Thomas Jones, and Jamal Lewis; that'll teach me to ignore the schedule when picking my team). Not even Derrick Mason (3) and Vincent Jackson (5) could save me.

11 Re: Loser League

In reply to by Independent George

Ugh. I started Vincent Jackson (5) on my REAL fantasy team.

Meanwhile my LL team is dropping after two weeks scoring 55 or worse. I am well out of the top 30 now; I also picked Kyle Orton and JaMarcus Russel.

[/Redskins homerism]

14 Re: Loser League

In reply to by Mountain Time …

I am amazed that even with Kyle Orton and the injured Brodie Croyle, I've managed to crack the top 10 LL total points (and only three points from top 5 main page status! w00t!) and hit 9th and 11th the last two weeks.

All I can figure is that (a) no one's having a spectacularly loserrific season and (b) Chris Perry, Michael Jenkins, and Josh Reed are heading for LL All Star status.

2 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Felony Football League

Orton, Brodie Croyle's injury, Ray Rice being supplanted by La'Ron McClain, Drew Bennett's injury, Justin McCareins failing to catch the 4 passes (plus 2 more erased by penalty) intended for him, Jake Delhomme discovering it's ok to throw to guys other than WR1, ATL offensive competence... I swear, I tried to pick a decent Loser League team, but the whole thing just blew up in my face so badly I can't even finish ahead of the other 'Neckbeard' team. At least Julius Jones only put up 7 points this week.

6 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

I think it's really going overboard to put Shockey in with that group. As you admitted, what's he ever done? Yes, he's more likely then most to express his feelings in the papers, and he's more likely then most to commit a personal foul (or draw one, for that matter). But he's been in the league, what, 10 years? And never been in trouble with the law. Is this a Miami thing?

7 Loser League

I've cracked the loser league top 10! I have to say, this is very exciting.

9 Team Names

I'm hijacking this thread to discuss favorite Loser League team names.

I've Been Debacled
Client No. 9
More Like Tom Gay-dy
Round Mound of Fourth Downs
Screw Abstinence! My Mom's the Governor
Sorry About Dresden
I Got My Picture Taken, I Got Forty Dollars and I Get to Keep the Underwear
The Third Grammatica*

*this team name is astonishingly similar to my actual FF team name, leading me to conclude I'm not nearly as clever as I thought

10 Re: Team Names

In reply to by Independent George

Tom Gay-dy and Round Mound are among my favorites as well. Some others:

Webster Slaughterhouse-five
Can't Bring the Draw on Third and Long, Sonia!
Brian Billick's Mildly Condescending Offensive Juggernaut
Ngata Chance

12 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

I watched the replay of IND-HOU last night. While Sage Rosenfels passed the ball sort of well for 3 quarters, he consistently showed an utter disregard for ball security (re: QB sneak at the 1-yard line where he stretches the unsecured ball forward before being close to down by contact, an earlier ridiculous scramble where he barely manages to hold on) and is quite fortunate that he only lost two fumbles. He is not the reason the Texans should have won; I give that credit to his recievers, his o-line, the defense. He is however the reason they lost. I didn't understand how bad he looked until I watched the game--I am going to remember this game for awhile, but I will forget Kluwe's performance by next week.

[/Redskins homerism]

13 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

There has to be a KCW special mention for Payton not doing anything at all to avoid the obvious loss once that PI call gave minnesota the ball inside the 20.

You would have had a better chance with:
* let MN score 7
* try to go for a TD with 1:10 left and 2 timeouts
* go for 2 or take chances with coin flip


* 20 seconds, no timeouts
* down by 3.

I don't understand NFL coaches.

15 KCW choice

Sorry, but regardless of Kluwe having no clue (HA!), there is NO WAY that Rosenfels doesn't deserve KCW this week. I mean, he literally handed the game to the Colts! When they were up 10 with 7 minutes or so to go! And threw an ugly pick to seal it!
I don't know if I've ever seen a more deserving KCW recipient in the history of KCW than Sage.
Except for maybe when that guy gave some team a winning FG by pulling penalty for taking off his helmet after sacking the QB while the last meaningless play was still happening (quick, who can remember who did that?).

17 Re: KCW Classics

In reply to by Stoughton McCochlea (not verified)

Antwan Randle-El's attempted lateral to Hines Ward vs New England a couple years ago comes to mind.

Though I don't blame him for it, there was also Mathias Kiwanuka's non-sack of Vince Young is a classic KCW play.

If we include coaches, Joe Gibbs' second timeout should also be included.

Though it predates KCW, but Aaron Brooks' 10-step drop followed by a backwards pass to an inelilgible receiver might be the ultimate KCW. Aaron Brooks ought to be the first inductee to the KCW HoF.

18 Re: KCW choice

In reply to by Stoughton McCochlea (not verified)

I think that was....Dwayne Ruud? Browns vs. Chiefs?

16 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

Kluwe botched the punt, for sure, but the Minnesota coverage guys are the real goats here. They made Pierre Thomas look like Gayle Sayers, too.

19 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

I have never skipped reading anything on this site before, but I think the Felony Football league was old hat. I stopped after Mike Vick. There has to be more meaningful things to write about, right?

21 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

Ben's off to a great start.

Reports: Pacman gets in fight with bodygaurd at Dallas hotel

22 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

[Johnson's troubles with guns run from the ticky-tack (carrying a gun in a vehicle is illegal in Illinois, but not in many other states) to the scary (multiple loaded, unlicensed weapons were found in his house in a December, 2006 search).]

Scary? Give me a break. Only four states require a gun-owner's license and seven more to own a handgun. I'd guess most Americans consider gun license violations to fall somewhere between speeding tickets and DUIs on the crime-scariness spectrum.

25 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

Well, you're obviously much more informed on this topic than I am, but the fact that some of these loaded weapons were well within child-reach range in a house containing some children... Well... I'm going to have to say that I find that significantly more worrisome than speeding tickets, and slightly more worrisome than DUI.

29 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

That's a matter of perspective and familiarity. Where I grew up it was pretty normal to have loaded guns in the house. The phrase "loaded weapon" is also too simplistic to adequately denote the level of risk involved in any particular situation. There are actually five well-recognized "conditions of readiness" that present very different risks of accidental shooting:

* Condition Zero: A round chambered, hammer cocked, safety off
* Condition One: A round chambered, hammer cocked, safety on
* Condition Two: A round chambered, hammer down
* Condition Three: Chamber empty
* Condition Four: Chamber empty, no magazine


The risk of each condition also varies depending on the type of weapon (double- or single-action revolver, semi-automatic pistol, bolt-action rifle, etc.). For example, many/most children under 10 aren't even strong enough to chamber a round on an semi-auto pistol that's in condition three.

23 LJ loses at losing

Larry Johnson deserves a Loser League honorable mention. 7 carries, 2 yards. So close... Whoda thunk Herm would hurt LL teams by giving his plodding halfback too FEW carries.

24 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

I live in Seattle. The other day, I was at my local park, and Shaun Alexander was doing wind sprints. I asked if he was Shaun, asked for an autograph, and we chatted for about 5 to 10 minutes. He asked me to go to a church service with him a few days later, unless, and I quote, "unless I'm picked up by another team by then." I made a non-committal response, and didn't show at his church. 100% true story.

26 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

Chris Kluwe probably won't mind losing his job since it will give him more time to focus on his World of Warcraft career.

And yes, I kid you not. Here is is application to join a WoW guild called the Flying Hellfish...

He evidently plays computer games full time and football is just a side gig.

30 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

That Kluwe app has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen. "Oh, and in my spare time I play for the Minnesota Vikings." Not for long, I bet (or did he get cut already... I know they were working out some punters).

31 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

How can anyone pick a felony football league and not start with Rae Carruth? (assuming O.J. was just too obvious a pick.) Or Nate Newton?

32 Re: Scramble's Felony Football League

We were picking guys based on what they'll do in the future, not what they've done in the past. Rae Carruth is in prison, so he's not likely to commit more crimes in the next few years. Newton is currently free, he would have been a better pick, but he has kept his nose clean for a few years now.