Timing Gone Bad … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

If there was one trait that Mike Vrabel displayed throughout his 14-season career in the NFL it was his sense of timing.

In his prime, Vrabel’s used his combination of intelligence and athletic ability to be a step ahead of quarterbacks looking to complete a pass. His uncanny knack of understanding the situation and timing was the major reason he caught 12 passes over his career, all of them for touchdowns in short-yardage, goal-line situations.

Mike Vrabel lost his sense of timing in the early hours of Monday morning when he was arrested by patrolmen from the Switzerland County Sheriff’s office in Florence, Indiana. The charge was felony theft. Vrabel was taken to the county jail in Vevay, Indiana, where he had his mug shot and fingerprints taken. About five hours after he was arrested without incident, he was released after posting a $600 bond.

The loot from his theft? A handful of beers that he removed from a deli at the Belterra Casino & Hotel in Florence.

“It was an unfortunate misunderstanding and I take full responsibility for the miscommunication,” Vrabel said in a statement released by his agent. “I feel comfortable that after talking with the appropriate parties, we will resolve this matter.”

Whether it was a dispute over a bar tab and confusion over how many beers should be on it, remains a possible explanation. But that does not change the fact that Vrabel was observed by an enforcement agent taking the bottles of alcohol from the Casino Cafe without paying for them.

Was he thirsty? Was he taking care of some adult beverages for the rest of his traveling party? Did Vrabel think he got screwed on a bar tab and decided to even things out? Was it all the above?

At this point, we don’t know and Vrabel isn’t speaking. But whatever the reason, it shattered the great timing that has surrounded his game and life from Ohio State, to Pittsburgh, to New England to the Chiefs.

Coming up Wednesday, Vrabel will be part of a hearing in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis involving the anti-trust suit filed against the NFL by 10 players. His name is on that legal action. As a member of the NFL Players Association executive committee, he’s been part of negotiating sessions with the league. In fact, it was just weeks ago right after the lockout started that Vrabel called for face-to-face negotiations between the owners and players, without lawyers and other hired guns in the room.

His arrest will have no effect on what happens in the courtroom on Wednesday; it’s not germane to the case. But there’s bound to be embarrassment for Vrabel. In the Twitter Age, circumstances do not matter; all that most people know will be the fact he was arrested for felony theft. That’s a life moment that leaves a mark that will never disappear from the cyberspace ether.

That a player would be arrested for felony theft at a casino during the NFL lockout does not come as a surprise; we know the league is not made up of altar boys.

But when the player in this case was Michael George Vrabel is a stunner. The soon to be 36-year old, 14-year veteran, the husband of Jen and the father of sons Tyler and Carter, has at no time presented a picture of being one of those NFL knuckleheads that finds the daily police report. He’s been anything but – a team captain, a team leader, a veteran willing to help younger players, a veteran willing to help a young head coach in his first seasons in charge of an NFL team. Believe me Todd Haley relied a great deal on Vrabel and his experience over the last two years.

If and when players and teams are allowed to speak to each other again, Vrabel’s explanations to Clark Hunt, Scott Pioli and Haley about what happened won’t phase him. Talking with Tyler and Carter and explaining why their Dad now has football cards with his face on them and a mug shot, will be much, much harder.

Despite the fact they cannot communicate with Vrabel because of the lockout, the Chiefs for some reason felt compelled to issue a statement on his arrest. That’s nice and all, but again there was not a name associated with the statement, no designation of whether it came from Hunt, Pioli or Haley. Why they do not want to put their names to the words remains one of those ways the organization does things these days.

Even before this incident, the Chiefs did not expect Vrabel to return as a player for the 2011 season. There’s been no definite decision made by the linebacker on whether he’ll continue his career. Haley indicated weeks ago that he would welcome Vrabel back should he seek a return.

It’s easy to see this incident disappearing rather quickly from the public eye. In Indiana, any theft of an object no matter its value is considered a Class D felony and carries with it a sentence of between six months and three years in jail. But, Vrabel isn’t going to be spending time in the Gray Bar Hotel, not for a handful of beers.

Mike Vrabel will have to deal with the ramifications of his poor timing and given his previous penchant for doing the right thing that will likely be punishment enough.

8 Responses to “Timing Gone Bad … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 5, 2011  - James says:

    A positive in all of this is maybe Mr Vrabel won’t be back with the Chief’s this year or whenever they get back to football.

  • April 5, 2011  - TDKC says:

    First I had to burn my LJ jersey now my Vrabel??

    Just goes to show, (too much)alcohol can make even the best of us into idiots.

  • April 5, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    You can certainly tell that NFL news is SLOW these days!!!! When something as petty as a handfull of beers makes the news we all need to get a life!!!!

  • April 5, 2011  - Bilyous says:

    He intercepted those beers. He was in the right place at the right time, as usual. Just good instincts.

    BTW, Bob. It’s “faze”, not “phase”. LOL

  • April 5, 2011  - Anonymous says:

    Yeah Bilyous…

    Maybe if he would have had a SACK…he wouldn’t have been caught.

  • April 5, 2011  - Haley's Ego says:

    How does a “handful of beers” bring a charge of “felony theft”?

    I guess he drinks better beer than I do.

  • April 8, 2011  - leonard says:

    Bob: I have no doubt that this is going to end up being nothing. I will bet that the casino bar was trying to rip him off, and the police are corrupt in this town, and makes alot of revenue off the scam that they are part of.

  • April 9, 2011  - txchief says:

    A rather arrogant mugshot. I’d bet he thinks he doesn’t have to obey the rules that everyone else must. It will be a hard landing for him. Even though it is a low level felony, it could keep him from getting that junior high coaching job or Foot Locker management position that he has been coveting.

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