Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Phillips Can't Stiff-Arm Trouble like He Does Tacklers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Phillips Can't Stiff-Arm Trouble like He Does Tacklers

Article excerpt

The life of a professional football player is a curious one.

In the summer, while other professional people flee to warm destinations for a little R&R, you're working up a sweat under an unrelenting sun.

No need for a briefcase. All you need to know is tucked in a black three-ring binder. High-tech? Try a chalkboard.

You can cash in in a short time. Yet, the average career in the National Football League is just shy of a measly four years.

You carry everything you need with you. Your body. You're supposed to treat it like a delicately tuned instrument. Beaten up and bruised in the fall, you rehab and rally in the spring.

You're pampered. They fix your meals and tell you what time to turn in. Curfew is 11 p.m. sharp!

You're adored. Signs welcome you to town. In Macomb, they even name a hamburger after you. Hundreds of fans - Macombians? Macombites? - show up for your first training camp practice and the stars haven't even come out yet.

You have a bad game? In the NFL, you can make up for it next Sunday.

And so it will go for Lawrence Phillips. If, when, he arrives.

Coaches like to refer to Phillips' "explosiveness" on the field. Add to that "elusiveness" off the field. So far, it seems as if Phillips has been able to elude bearing the full brunt of the law and, thus, full responsibility for his bad judgment.

Consider that Phillips pleaded guilty for assaulting his former girlfriend at the University of Nebraska last fall. His lawful penalty was probation. Coach Tom Osborne suspended him for six games. Yet, Osborne reinstated him for the Fiesta Bowl. And, despite his off-field problems, he was the No. 6 pick in April's draft.

Consider Phillips' latest legal entanglement. He was arrested in June for allegedly driving under the influence in California. He pleaded innocent. A pre-trial hearing is set for Aug. 28.

The real danger for Phillips is that his conviction in California would lead to the revocation of his probation on his misdemeanor assault.

The apparent legal strategy over this latest scrape is to try to stall a court judgment until after the NFL season, so Phillips won't miss too much training camp or, for that matter, any of the '96 regular season. …

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