When Deadspin posted the legal thinghy outlining various law-breakers in the NFL, I immediately thought, “Hey, I wonder how many of those guys were cut by their teams, only to find solace in the indiscriminate arms of the AFL?” This implies a certain sickness on my part. Curiously, I found only three overlaps, which was disappointing, and probably not worth mentioning, but I did all this work, and it would be a shame to waste it.
Jason Gesser, former Tennessee Titans QB, arrested 2/15/04, doesn’t even warrant a decent Wikipedia entry. He doesn’t appear to have been released because of his legal difficulties; considering that he started for the Utah Blaze in 2005, and then lost the job to Joe Germaine, I’m guessing it was a skill-related dismissal.
Aaron Gibson, late of the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, and the Chicago Bears seems to have benefited from the free substitution rules that the AFL adopted, seeing as how he’s listed as OT/DT, but isn’t in the defensive depth chart of the Austin Wranglers. He had a nightclub incident, did community service, started for the Bears, and then basically parlayed his NFL journeyman status into the job with the Wranglers. Kind of boring, really. I almost feel bad for dredging up his “sordid” past.
Finally, we come to our only two-time offender on the list, Vinny Sutherland, who hasn’t played in the AFLsince 2004. After having vehicular issues in 2001 and 2002 (including a hit-and-run while driving on a suspended license), he “Pleaded no contest [and was] cut by the team a few months later,” according to the Greenberg Traurig document. I, personally remember this wanker for the 99-yard touchdown pass he caught from Drew Brees against Northwestern. I had to be reminded by his Purdue page, but I recall driving down Sheridan Road and listening to this on the radio, praying for a fluke safety. Anyway, he was a non-entity in the NFL, had his incidents, took a year off, and then floundered on the New York Dragons. Vinny, I hope things are going better for you.
Interestingly, the only thing we’ve learned from this exercise is that NFL players with legal problems don’t necessarily drop to the AFL. Just NFL players with talent problems. Also, I almost feel bad for bringing these guys up again – Gesser is just a mediocre quarterback who did something dumb and served his time, Gibson got into a fight in a Pontiac, MI bar, and Sutherland has enough trouble now as a former felon. But, in case you were wondering, there’s the overlap.
I wish there was some sort of AFL sex-dinghy scandal to discuss, or a Mark-Chmura-esque situation, wherein he hits on his friend’s sister who’s 20, so it’s not illegal, but it’s certainly weird… Sigh. Arena Football, you’ve almost lived up to your expectations again.