Has an Athlete Ever Faced Criminal Charges for His Conduct on the Field?

Inspired by the the Haynesworth incident.

If he did that to a guy on the street, he’d be charged with assault and facing jail time. It looks like he’s going to get a pass legally since he did it on the field.

Has any athlete ever been accountable to law enforcement for his conduct on the field? In the US or elsewhere?

A recent case was Marty McSorely in hockey when he hit a guy with his stick. . He was convicted of assault and was banned from the NHL for a year and then retired - he was near the end of his career anyway


You didn’t specify football alone so I am going to assume (until you state otherwise) that you mean any professional sport. I remember the brawl that happened when the Pacers and Pistons played each other. Ben Wallace was fouled by Artest and it all started from there, between various players and ended up in the stands.

It was all over the news and led to criminal charges (and fines from the teams and NBA). From Wiki :

Yes, I meant any professional sport. Or amateur, for that matter.

Thanks for the info about the Pacers riot. I had forgotten about that.

Todd Bertuzzi, of course.

Tiger Williams was charged with assault for hitting someone with his stick in the late 70’s, but I think he was acquitted.

Also from the NHL, Dino Ciccarelli was convicted for assault and spent a day in jail for hitting Luke Richardson with his stick.

Boxer Max Baer was charged with manslaughter when one of his opponents died. He was acquitted of the charge, however.

That is the only time I can think of when a boxer was charged for what, while tragic, is certainly a possible outcome of a legally conducted boxing match. There were other instances where boxers broke the rules and were charged with criminal offenses. James Butler hit his opponent after a fight was over and was charged with assault. He served time (later, he murdered the brother of a boxing commentator – Butler was a real quality guy). Luis Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis faced criminal charges and served time in jail for removing some padding in Resto’s glove when he fought Billy Collins.

Look under ‘1988’ in this Wiki article. It briefly lists the fact that Dino Ciccarelli got sentenced to one day in jail, plus a fine, for hitting Luke Richardson with his stick.

Unless I’m mistaken, the article fails to mention an incident in Toronto where a number of players on the Philadelphia Flyers (“The Broadstreet Bullies”) were charged with assault for the actions against Borje Salming and other Toronto Maple Leafs in the mid-1970’s.

I just realized you never mentioned specific assault charges in your actual question. If it is not limited to that, would you like to have gambling and other types of charges included?

That should be, “charged with assault for their actions against Borje Salming”

Ah yes. Dan Saleski if memory serves was attacked by Leafs fans for it while he was in the penalty box, and had to defend himself with his stick. I think he wound up being charged with assault, along with Bob Kelly, Mel Bridgeman, and I think someone else whose name escapes me. It was the incident that spurned the league to address instigating more seriously.

Saleski, Bridgeman and Joe Watson were indicted in 1976 for the incident.

But this was just the tip of the iceberg in those times. There were at least three other players in three separate incidents on other teams indicted for various offences involving mayhem on the ice. Many times they got a hung jury and nothing happened.

Bob Kelly was later charged, as was Dan Maloney of the Red Wings. Sorry, Maloney was charged that year in a different game, but acquited.

Dave Winfield of the Yankees was charged for cruelty to animals for killing a seagull with a baseball during a 1983 game in Toronto.

Commented Yankee manager Billy Martin, “It was the first time all year he’s hit the cutoff man.”

Winfield swore up and down that he wasn’t aiming at the seagull (which practically all the ballplayers regarded as rats with wings).

Years later, Graig Nettles said Winfield was DEFINITELY aiming at the seagull, but was as surprised as anybody that he actually hit it!

A perfectly accurate description of a Toronto seagull; basically they ARE rats with wings, and they used to swarm over Exhibition Stadium like flies. It was not entirely uncommon to see center fielders chasing fly balls charging into flocks of seagulls that had decided to just stand around on the field. They shit everywhere. It was gross, one of the many bad things about a truly awful stadium.

SkyDome, or Rogers Centre or whatever it is called now, does not seem to have a seagull problem.

Video of Stomp

This is from the AP article about the stomp. You need to register were I got it from so I’ll just quote it.

Maybe not.

From here:

So he may not be off the hook for formal charges, although a number of articles appear to lean toward the “five game suspension is enough punishment” line of thinking.

BTW, Loach’s quote is also included at the end of the article I linked.