When one considers what constitutes a “dumb” crime, it could be almost anything, as committing a crime in general is a pretty bad idea. But we aren’t interested in your general run-of-the-mill offenses. No simple charges of public intoxication, theft, drug possession, or assaults during a fight will be found here - unless the details are especially ridiculous.
To take things to another level, we’ve also only included crimes that occurred while the athletes were still playing, which can include both the professional and collegiate levels. Because let’s face it, so much more is on the line when a player’s career is still active or blossoming, and jeopardizing that by perpetrating a crime - and a stupid one at that - is beyond a simple bad judgment call. Plus, life after sports can be tough. For a lot of athletes, their playing careers are all they know, and they can get used to the special treatment and high salaries, and understandably struggle when it’s all over.
It’s also worth noting that this list doesn’t include incidents where the individual was let off with just a warning without being taken into custody; an arrest at least had to occur. Also, if it was a case of mistaken identity or a misunderstanding, it was also not included.
And in the spirit of dumbness, we will be limiting the crimes to those of the truly head-scratching variety. Offenses like murder, rape, and domestic abuse are definitely dumb, but are also a bit too serious to make this article. There is a definite line between stupidity and downright maliciousness, and we set out to differentiate the two types of actions while compiling this list, the top 20 dumbest crimes committed by athletes.
21 Dhani Jones is a Dancing Machine
Mick Jagger and David Bowie may have mentioned Philadelphia in the list of cities in “Dancing in the Street,” but that’s not where Eagles linebacker Dhani Jones was arrested for refusing to stop boogying. Jones was visiting Miami on March 26, 2006 when he was charged with misdemeanor failure to obey a lawful command after allegedly ignoring or refusing several requests by police to stop dancing in the street and remove himself from the roadway.
Jones pleaded no contest to the charges, but got off on withheld adjudication, and only had to pay court fees.
20 Charles N’Zogbia Examines the Law
It is generally accepted that the hardest part of obtaining a driver’s license (other than dealing with the DMV) is the part of the test where you actually need to drive the car. Not for French footballer Charles N’Zogbia though, who was arrested by police on April 21, 2010 in England for suspicion of causing fraud by false representation after he allegedly had someone else take the written portion of the exam instead.
Fortunately for N’Zogbia, nothing serious came of it, and he finished the 2010-11 season as Wigan Athletic Football Club’s top goal scorer.
19 Cops Give Louis Murphy a Hard Time
When Louis Murphy makes a dumb decision, he follows it up with a series of increasingly stupid choices. It all started on April 3, 2011 with a Gainesville police officer asking Murphy to pull over for having loud music. The receiver ignored the request, parked and simply walked away. Murphy then refused to present ID, and refused to be handcuffed. To top it all off, a consensual search of his car turned up a “non-labeled prescription bottle containing 11 individual pills.”
Louis Murphy was charged with three misdemeanors: failure to obey a police officer, resisting arrest, and possession of a drug without a valid prescription. Could it get any worse? You bet! Those 11 pills turned out to be Viagra.
17 Randall Simon’s Sausage Beating
Randall Simon played in the MLB for almost nine years, and his most famous on-field performance got him arrested.
During the famous 7th inning Brewers sausage race, Simon, a first baseman for the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, reached over the dugout railing as the costumed characters ran by, and struck the Italian sausage with a bat.
Mandy Block, the 19-year-old inside the suit, only suffered a few scrapes when she fell and knocked down the hot dog character in the process, but Simon was still booked after the game for misdemeanor battery. The charges were later reduced to a fine, with the strictest punishment coming from the league: a three-game suspension and a $2,000 fine.
16 Antonio Morrison Barks, Cops Bite
Sometimes criminal incidents are dumb on both the offender’s and arresting officer’s parts. Such was the case on July 21, 2013, when Florida Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested for barking at a police dog.
While cops were investigating a call regarding a suspicious vehicle, Morrison and his friends walked by a patrol car containing a K-9, and the player barked at the dog through an open window. He was immediately cuffed and taken to jail, but the charges (which included obstruction and resisting arrest) were dropped a few days later.
Morrison’s defense in the incident? The dog barked first.
15 Claude Giroux Cops a Feel
Canada Day is a huge celebration for our neighbors to the north, but Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux got a bit too carried away with the festivities in 2014.
While partying at a bar in the nation's capital of Ottawa, Giroux spotted police officers making routine rounds inside the establishment, and allegedly grabbed the buttocks of a male officer. Giroux was given a warning, but he grabbed the cop’s rear once more, and was hauled out and arrested.
The Flyers centre spent the night in jail, but was released the next morning without being charged. He later donated $20,000 to an Ottawa Police charity.
14 Chris Perez Blames it on the Dog
Apparently Snoop Dogg isn’t the only canine that enjoys a bit of weed. Former Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez was arrested in 2013 for misdemeanor marijuana possession after a package containing nine ounces of chronic was delivered to his house in his dog’s name, Brody. Police became suspicious after postal inspectors reported a few suspicious packages.
To Perez’s credit, he was cooperative with authorities, and only received a $250 fine, one year of probation and an order to speak to youngsters about the dangers of drugs.
Maybe they should have made him dress as McGruff the Crime Dog.
13 Officer Olden Polynice
On October 28, 2000, a couple out driving their car were followed home and confronted by an angry driver, who got into an argument with them and flashed a police badge. The couple wrote down the alleged cop’s license plate, and the “officer” turned out to be Utah Jazz center Olden Polynice, who was given an honorary police badge by the Los Angeles Police Department. He was charged with impersonating a police officer and disorderly conduct.
It later came out that this wasn’t the first crime Polynice recently committed. On Sept. 13, he responded to a driver who made a rude gesture by pulling them over, flashing a police badge, and allegedly saying, “I’m with the California Sheriff’s Office, and I can have you arrested.”
12 Clay Buchholz and the Computer Con
Long before Clay Buchholz became the recently de-throned Red Sox ace he is today, he was a pitcher for the McNeese State University Cowboys in Lake Charles, Louisiana. His tenure didn’t last long though, as he was soon arrested for not just the theft of 29 computers from nearby Lumberton Intermediate School, but also for attempting to sell them to his own university.
Buchholz was dismissed from the baseball program and transferred to Angelina College in Texas, where he excelled in his only year before being drafted by the Red Sox in 2005.
11 Damon Stoudamire’s Weed Woes
On July 8, 2003, Portland Trailblazer point guard Damon Stoudamire was arrested at Tucson International Airport for possession of almost an ounce-and-a-half of marijuana. Did the body scanners find it? No, they weren’t in use yet. Police dogs? Guess again; he actually eluded them. Damon Stoudamire was caught while going through the metal detector because he wrapped his weed in aluminum foil. If one ever desired be a drug smuggler, this is a great example of exactly what not to do.
Stoudamire was slapped with two misdemeanors, and because it was his third marijuana-related arrest since joining the team, he was suspended for three months and fined $250,000.
10 Eugene Robinson
On January 30, 1999, Atlanta Falcons safety Eugene Robinson was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. By itself, there was nothing spectacular about this incident; numerous NFL players before and after Robinson committed the same offense. But Robinson had two factors working against him.
First, he was collared the night before he was set to appear in Super Bowl XXXIII. Still, numerous players visiting Miami that weekend allegedly hired hookers, he just got caught. The big difference was that earlier in the day, Robinson was awarded the 1999 Bart Starr Award for high moral character by the religious group Athletes in Action. Yikes.
Although Robinson made bail and was cleared to play in the big game, his performance was clearly affected by his lack of sleep, and the Broncos bested the Falcons 34-19.
9 César Aparecido Rodrigues and the Great Soccer Heist
Back in 1994 while playing for CA Juventus in Brazil, César’s team was promoted to the top division in the state, which meant, among other things, that he would be splitting a $100,000 bonus amongst his teammates. However, the money never arrived, as it was stolen en route. Shockingly, it turned out that César was involved with the theft and provided the culprits with information about the delivery. The trio was eventually busted after they attempted to purchase new cars in cash.
César was sentenced to five years and four months in jail, but was released in 1998.
8 Tyler Patrick Thomas and the Naked Tackle
Former Oregon State University offensive lineman Tyler Patrick Thomas has three dumb offenses to go with his trio of names. On August 22, 2010, Thomas did the following while absolutely intoxicated: 1) he trespassed a stranger’s home, 2) he was found completely naked, and 3) when confronted by police officers, instead of getting on the ground, he dropped into a three-point football stance and lunged at the cops. They had to break out the tasers in order to subdue him. Tyler Patrick Thomas was charged with criminal trespassing, criminal mischief and resisting arrest.
OSU cut Thomas from the team, ending his otherwise promising football career.
7 Patrick Kane’s Lack of Cents
Although the most famous charge associated with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks is probably the sexual assault charge of which he was recently acquitted, he was actually previously convicted of quite the head-scratcher.
On August 9, 2009, Kane and his cousin took a cab in Buffalo, NY, and became irate when the cabbie, 62-year-old Jan Radecki, couldn’t make change at the end of their ride. The Kanes then attacked Radecki, who said he was punched, grabbed by the throat, and had his glasses broken. However, the felony charges were eventually reduced to misdemeanors and Kane ended up only getting a slap on the wrist.
The most baffling detail? The Kanes wanted change for a $14.80 ride after they gave the driver $15.
6 Dion Rayford Thinks Outside the Bun
Fast food drive-thrus can be annoying, but former University of Kansas defensive end Dion Rayford took his frustration to a whole new level. On November 17, 1999, Rayford was patronizing a local Taco Bell when he discovered the employees had given him hard shell tacos instead of soft, and neglected to include an ordered chalupa. The exact details of what happened next are up for debate, but when officers arrived on the scene, they found Rayford with his head and shoulder wedged in the tiny drive-thru window, alternately screaming and begging for his food, with an open bottle of liquor in his SUV.
Rayford was charged with assault, destruction of the window and possession of an open container of alcohol. He was suspended from his last college game, and never returned to football.
5 Najeh Davenport and the Dorm Deuce
When you gotta go, you gotta go. University of Miami running back Najeh Davenport followed this adage on April 1, 2002, when he broke into the dorm of a Barry University student and defecated in the woman’s closet and laundry basket while she slept in the same room. However, Davenport didn’t surrender to police until July of the same year, having already been drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the meantime.
Davenport accepted a plea deal for community service in exchange for a clean record, but adding to the absurdity, he maintained his innocence on the courthouse steps afterward, asking, “Where’s the evidence? Where’s the manure?”
4 Bob Probert: Amateur Smuggler
NHL winger Bob Probert was as famous for his fights and enforcer status in the game as he was for his off-ice shenanigans and legal problems. Although some were troubling, a few were just downright dumb. On March 2, 1989, while a member of the Detroit Red Wings, customs officers of the U.S. side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel discovered 14.3 grams of cocaine in Probert’s underwear, and he was subsequently charged with drug smuggling.
Customs probably wouldn’t have given Probert the damning strip search if the athlete didn’t have an expired immigration document, as well as a vehicle that was littered with empty beer and liquor bottles.
3 Diego Maradona Takes Aim
Celebrities are all too familiar with the incessant attention given to them by members of the paparazzi, and try everything from disguises to fleets of bodyguards to keep the photogs away. Thankfully, no one takes the Diego Maradona approach.
In 1994, the soccer legend was arrested after he and two friends fired an air rifle at reporters and photographers outside of Maradona’s Buenos Aires home, injuring four people.
Due not only to witness testimony, but also the fact that the entire event was televised, Maradona was found guilty of assault and given a suspended sentence of two years and 10 months in jail.
2 Metta World Peace on the War Path
Although Ron Artest is now named Metta World Peace, he was anything but peaceful during the famous Pacers-Pistons brawl on November 19, 2004.
With less than a minute left in the game and Indiana leading 97-82, Artest fouled Ben Wallace and received a hard shove in return, resulting in a scuffle between the two teams. When the confrontation was all but over, Artest got hit with a cup of soda thrown by a fan and responded by charging into the stands and punching someone whom he mistakenly believed threw the cup, but was actually innocent. Artest later punched another fan too. The whole event escalated into complete chaos as players and fans fought each other while additional drinks and objects were hurled onto the athletes.
In the end, in addition to suspensions, five players and five fans were charged with assault and battery. Artest didn’t receive the harshest of the penalties doled out, but he was solely responsible for bringing the battle into the stands.
1 Plaxico Burress’s Friendly Fire
To compare an athlete getting arrested in their prime to shooting themselves in the foot, is an apt metaphor. In Plaxico Burress’s case, it was literal, except the bullet penetrated a bit higher.
On November 29, 2008, New York Giants wide receiver and Super Bowl XLII hero Plaxico Burress entered the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan with a .40-caliber Glock pistol tucked into his waistband. Around 1:30am, the gun slipped down Burress’s pant leg, and in an attempt to prevent it from hitting the floor, Burress accidentally pulled the trigger, striking himself in the leg and narrowly missing a security guard.
Burress took a plea deal, accepting a charge of “attempted possession of a weapon” and a sentence of two years in prison. He was also cut from the Giants roster and his career never recovered.