Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Learn Hard Way -- 'Playmakers' Not So Outrageous

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Learn Hard Way -- 'Playmakers' Not So Outrageous

Article excerpt

Byline: Bart Hubbuch, The Times-Union

BALTIMORE -- Next week on "Playmakers:" The star wide receiver is suspended for substance abuse, the two starting defensive tackles go before a grand jury, the Pro Bowl punter chops his leg with an ax and a starting linebacker is cut after pointing a gun at two teenagers.

Of course, that's not the latest story line for ESPN's much-criticized football drama -- it's what's happened during the first seven weeks of a Jaguars season that just seems to get more bizarre by the day.

No wonder QB Mark Brunell, tight end Kyle Brady and just about every other Jaguars player who blasted Playmakers as outrageous and unrealistic last month now wishes they had kept their mouths shut.

"After everything that's gone on around here, it's like we're living an episode of Playmakers," Brady said Thursday. "And here I was, saying how crazy that show was. I won't say that anymore."

In several cases, the Jaguars' truth has been stranger than any TV fiction the producers of Playmakers could dream up.

Brunell said he thought he had seen it all in 11 NFL seasons. Until, that is, the Jaguars reported three months ago for their first training camp under rookie coach Jack Del Rio.

In short order, three players were hospitalized for heat illness, Jimmy Smith was suspended for four games by the NFL, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson were called before a grand jury in a drug trial and punter Chris Hanson chopped himself with an ax in the locker room.

Then, earlier this week, starting outside linebacker T.J. Slaughter was released just hours after being arrested for felony assault with a firearm.

"All of this happening? In one year? On one team? No, I've never seen anything like it," Brunell said.

This from the same player who said last month that he refused to watch even a snippet of Playmakers because everything Brunell had heard about it was "ridiculous. …

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