ITKTwo members of the University of Tennessee football team were arrested over the weekend on alcohol-related charges and resisting arrest.

Officers received a call about a loud party at the apartment of former Tennessee linebacker Dontavis Sapp, 22, who was also taken into custody with Johnson, 22, and O’Brien, 20, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said.

Johnson, a first-team all-Southeastern Conference selection last season, was charged with purchasing alcohol for a person underage and resisting arrest. O’Brien, a reserve nose tackle as a redshirt freshman last season, was charged with criminal impersonation, resisting arrest and underage consumption of alcohol.

All three have been released.

Johnson, who is returning for his senior season, made a team-high 106 tackles last fall in his third season as a starter. He had 138 tackles in 2012 and ranked fourth among all Football Bowl Subdivision players with 11.5 tackles per game.

O’Brien made 12 tackles and played in all 12 games in a reserve role as a redshirt freshman last season. Sapp closed his career last fall by starting 12 games and making 66 tackles.

(Associated Press)

Some have questioned why we comment on things like this here. It’s because when a player gets arrested, for any team, it’s news, and it affects the members of the Southeastern Conference indirectly, including Alabama.

Not all arrests are equal, obviously, judging from the potential punishments that follow. Possession of marijuana with a suspicion to distribute from an incoming freshman (like Auburn’s Kalvaraz Bessent) is news, no matter how angry it makes you as a fan. We understand it makes some mad…both that it happened, and that we comment on it here. But an incident like this carries with it major ramifications, both for the individual, and for the program it impacts.

Alcohol-related charges by two current players on the Volunteer squad is also news, especially from a 1st team all SEC player last season.

So is failure to obey/resisting arrest (from Alabama incoming freshman Tony Brown). However, that claim is already being shredded in Tuscaloosa, as reported by CBS Sports and Al.com. Witnesses are saying now that the police in Tuscaloosa were the aggressors following a melee at a party, mostly attended by track athletes.

One brief comment: The Tuscaloosa police are nuts. I’ve experienced it first-hand. My experience with them was in a traffic situation following a game, where I accidentally honked my horn when turning around to tend to our then baby in the back seat. My elbow hit the horn as I turned around to position myself.

The officer directing traffic stopped the entire three lane intersection to hunt down “whoever just honked their horn,” wanting to exact revenge for the crime against humanity he thought had just been committed. He then sent me, my wife and our baby, pacifier and footed-pajamas and all, to the side of the road for “traffic time out” for a couple of cycles so I could think about what I’d done.

It was clear this officer hated his job, and the university town he lived in, not to mention the football game that inconvenienced his Saturdays. He said as much as he announced for all to hear what all he’d been through that day. In that situation you’re at the mercy of the officer until his fit of rage has run its course. There’s not a lot you can do. In Tony Brown’s case, as eye witnesses are now coming forward and saying, that fit included unnecessary use of pepper spray on a young man walking away.

Through the years, many accounts with the Tuscaloosa police department have painted a force completely unsympathetic at best, overly aggressive at worst. I haven’t dealt with the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, nor that of Knox County. But the described encounter, and my experience with them while in school there allows for a little perspective on my part. Not beating up on them…any policeman serving in that line of work is worth his salt. But some are better than others.

When in school there, I once had to fight (and won) a parking ticket where I parked on a curb that was neither yellow nor marked in any way for “no parking,” yet the officer with the god-complex believed he should be able to assign penalty wherever he wished. I’m telling you, they’re nuts. But I digress…

Putting it in perspective, what the Alabama newcomer did carries a sentence about as stern as picking up trash on the side of the road for a few weekends. What the Auburn newcomer did carries a sentence as stern as having to get used to male love over the next decade. What the Tennessee players did is somewhere in the middle.

Any young man getting himself arrested is tragic. You don’t need that on your record as you try to put a life together for yourself. But very different from you and I, that arrest is broadcast from sea to shining sea because of their involvement with an amateur football organization.

Even more, the tragedy comes in seeing potential futures dashed over bad decisions, bad affiliations, and sometimes just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. A wise parent once told me as a young man, nothing good happens outside your house after 10:00pm. I thought they were crazy then, but as I get older, there’s a lot of wisdom in that notion.

But these are teenagers. Their frontal lobes controlling the ability to sense and determine the consequences of their actions haven’t fully developed yet. In Bessent’s case, if he’s innocent, ratting out your buddies (if the weed really isn’t his) would be a great decision, but that isn’t what he did.

In the Tennessee players’ case, not buying alcohol for the underaged would be a great idea.

And in Brown’s case, staying clear of anything resembling trouble in Tuscaloosa is a good idea as well.

This is all news because we care about this thing called college football. Don’t get mad at us though; we didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since college football has been turning.


(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)

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12 Responses to “More players arrested, and why this is news” Subscribe

  1. The Conduit February 10, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    I hate to say that I’m afraid this article will be grossly under-exposed. But this is brilliant. I don’t think stories like this are reported enough to set examples for other students to be aware of what’s at stake.

    Do you remember when the then-top new recruit, Jadaveon Clowney, was arrested for armed robbery and all the pictures showed up of him in handcuffs at Five Points in downtown Columbia, SC? The pictures said it all.

    Only he wasn’t arrested.

    As the story goes, he was in the area where an armed robbery was allegedly commited by a black male with dreadlocks seen where Clowney was. Cops spotted him and put him in handcuffs to question and search him. It took days for everyone to figure out he never did anything wrong (and some still had their doubts). His only mistake was being out late in the wrong part of town, otherwise known as anywhere on any college campus where people drink. For the record, they discovered he hadn’t consumed any alcohol, plus the 911 caller didn’t cooperate or make a report. Sounds fishy, doesn’t it? The next week Steve Spurrier was put into handcuffs at a press conference to try to show how the officers were just doing their job.

    Fast forward a few seasons and did Clowney ever do anything wrong? For as much as Stephen Garcia partied and outside of Clowney’s very recent speeding tickets, the guy was practically a role model. And while I don’t think under-age drinking is the worst thing in the world, I don’t think all those bottles we saw Johnny Manziel with every weekend were filled with milk or V8.

    I digress; I know that’s a little off-topic, but not only are people going to talk about recruits when they get arrested, but often people aren’t going to differentiate between any of them. To many fans, you’re either arrested or you’re not. Clowney wasn’t arrested in the story above, but a crowd formed as the police questioned him and several people in the crowd instead were arrested as a result, people who posted pictures of Clowney in handcuffs…

    I’m not standing up for Clowney except to say that particularly now in the off-season if anything bad enough happens with a recruit or player it will get reported. You don’t have to like it, and no there aren’t enough stories of the good things they do, but it can’t be a big surprise to anyone at this point. You have to be able to think for yourself what the circumstances mean. Maybe Clowney did nothing wrong? Maybe the Auburn recruit knew nothing and was just smoking pot (yes, it’s illegal, but I’m certainly not saying just smoking pot is a ten-year offense), or maybe everyone in the car knew who all that dope belonged to but nobody wanted to confess because they knew that much weed equals automatic jail time?

    We’ve heard Nick Saban tell his players nothing good happens after curfew and it’s there for their own good. For the most part, it’s worked incredibly well. I can’t say if it happens like that anywhere else, but at least in Tuscaloosa Saban uses it as an example each time. Hopefully these stories will also set an example elsewhere to other players, so, again, if you ask me, you can’t report stories like this enough and it makes even less sense to get upset for reading the story itself.

  2. Hunter Ford February 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    There is a good article in SI recently about pot in the NFL and maybe making changes to the NFL policy. Some players live in states where it is legal. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds. The Si article pointed out that some NFL players use weed to ease pain without using highly addictive opiate based pills. I’ve always thought it was ridiculous to suspend a guy for weed when the team doctor would shoot him up with something to get him on the field. Of course, the problem with weed is that it is illegal.

    But back to the college situation I’ll just repeat part of an earlier post:The marijuana laws are too harsh. A teenager with his whole life in front of him doesn’t need to be facing 11 years in prison for the things I see in this article. Pot should be decriminalized so our jails aren’t full of people like this. Long term prison sentences should be for violent criminals and white collar crooks who steal from old ladies’ retirement funds. However, it should be a crime to drive around with it while you are high, just like it’s illegal to drink and drive. But possession? 11 years? Too much. The moral for kids is that the laws are strict and the consequences are harsh.

    • The Conduit February 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

      I agree pot probably shouldn’t be illegal.

      The problem is it is illegal and it’s arguably the most profitable by volume and therefore is often linked with profits from other drugs that I don’t think anyone is hoping to legalize, such as crystal meth, crack cocaine, heroin, black market prescription drugs or controlled substances, weapons, etc. I’m not alleging any of that is necesarily true here (even if it likely is), however there was a loaded handgun also found inside the car (nobody was charged for the handgun yet, which could potentially be the outlier for sentencing). The fact that the near half-pound of weed was split into four bags makes it an automatic intent to distribute, never mind the nature of having the same number of people in the car as bags of dope.

      I don’t think getting high on weed is a terrible act, but the amount of dope these guys had simply wasn’t for personal use or anything I think most people are ok with, even if that’s not the case (yet?) in the Yellow Hammer State. Regardless of whether or not pot should be illegal, the sheer volume in the car means mandatory jail time in Alabama and none of them took ownership. Not only are they stupid to be carrying such a large amount of dope or an unpermitted gun, but they were speeding and smoking weed in the car at the same time, which is outright dangerous.

      11 years is the maximum possible penalty if convicted on all counts (the gun charges notwithstanding); it may be too much jail time “just for weed,” and note that nobody has been sentenced yet, however it’s not a stretch to say they were outrageously stupid and dangerous and it’s not wrong to punish them somehow. Hopefully they learn from it, but expecting no punishment is asking too much.

      As an aside, a recent development potentially removes the “side effect” of medical pot getting people high. It’s a breakthrough for the medical side, but whether it’s applied to, well, anything (including the NFL model) won’t even start for years and it certaily wasn’t the case with Bessent.

  3. Hunter Ford February 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Agreed

  4. Damage INC. February 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Having recently moved back to Birmingham, AL from Phoenix, AZ where weed is legal — I detest and absolutely can’t stand why the medicine isn’t legal in all 50. People’s lives are ruined day in and day out due to harsh legal measures taken for possession and/or distribution charges. Ruined all because what the government says you can and can’t put in your own body. As bad as I hate the University of Tennessee — I do have sympathy for some of these young individuals who choose to go outside of society’s box and destroy their careers.

  5. peachy February 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    So where was your article on Tony Brown? Or do you just write articles when its OTHER teams players?

    • ITK February 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      I know reading is hard peachy, but Tony Brown is covered in this article.

      • peachy February 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

        But where was the article when he was arrested? Its “news”, right?

        Just the wrong kind of news huh?

        • The Conduit February 11, 2014 at 8:50 am #

          Classic cult deflection. “What are your crimes?!”

          If it makes you feel any better peachy, you’ll be hearing more about the Tony Brown story. I don’t think you’re going to like what you hear, but I hope it helps.

  6. A Ganger February 10, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    It’s called Karma…ALL those Viles and Barnterds that were rejoicing that Tony Brown got into trouble are now wearing those shoes and no doubt singing a different tune when it comes to one of their own…LOL…Karma…it’s a drag huh???
    RTR
    Protect America, Build Submarines

    • peachy February 10, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      Not at all. I dont know a single Auburn fan that wants this kid on the team now. But Bama fans dont mind it when their players do wrong. Hell, you brought Pettway back after participating in beating and robbing your own students.

      • bamabino February 10, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

        Looks like Auburn Alabama is made entirely of Harvey Updikes. Turrible. Just terrible.

        Ready for Tuscaloosa

        Andrew Bone
        TideSports.com Senior Recruiting Analyst

        Talk about it in Talk of Champions

        Rashaan Evans, five-star linebacker from Auburn High School in Ala., believes he made the right decision for his future when he signed with Alabama on Wednesday.

        There are plenty of people who support Evans regardless of his decision, but every fan base has a few immature individuals who take the decision of a high school stranger too personal. Those fans vent frustration on message boards and or social media.

        “It’s getting worse,” Evans said on Monday evening. “Someone actually put out an article about my family’s business telling all Auburn fans not to go there. We are going to eventually start losing money. People are telling restaurants in the town not to serve us.

        “It’s hard for me to go out and chill with my friends like I have always done because people keep coming up to me telling me I made a bad decision. It’s grown men. They are asking me why I did this to them. I told them I had to do what is best for me.

        “You know I knew this would happen. I knew people would be mad and say stuff. I didn’t think it would be like this. It wasn’t a complete shock to me, but I guess that’s just how fans are.

        “It’s just crazy right now. What’s getting crazy is people are going to the board at my school trying to get me in trouble. They are telling my teachers I am a bad kid and all this stuff. It’s just bad right now.

        “Social media has definitely been the worst. People on Instagram are telling me how they hope I tear my ACL in game one. They will laugh when I do. They are saying my family is horrible and how they didn’t raise me right. It’s just crazy.”

        Evans has another fan base eager for the nation’s top linebacker to arrive in Tuscaloosa.

        “The support from Alabama fans has been by far the greatest,” he said. “They have made me feel a lot better about my decision. They are doing nothing but showing me love. They make me see I have people who are always going to have my back.

        “Kirby [Smart] always sends me an inspirational texts. He tells me not to worry what people are saying. He said to make sure once I get there just get ready for work.

        “Auburn fans are saying I am going to ride the bench, and I am going to be like Reuben Foster. People are adding his family and how they are low-lifes. They talk about his mom. You wouldn’t think some of them are human. I knew it was going to be horrible. You know it’s out of hand when people come up to you saying stuff. People you don’t know. People who are grown men.”

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