Thursday, December 8, 2011

Drunk History: Lawrence Phillips RB Miami Dolphins

In a piece of NFL Drunk History, we look back to 1998 where a night club incident turned violent for then Miami Dolphins RB Lawrence Phillips and the criminal history of the troubled running back.

Just seven months after receiving what seems like the millionth chance for Lawrence Phillips, who had an extensive arrest record dating back to his days at Nebraska, was yet again in trouble with the law. Phillips, who is currently in jail serving a sentence of more than 31 years, was at the Brickhouse Restaurant and Lounge when the incident occurred. Phillips asked a woman, Michelle Black, if she would dance with him. She told Phillips that she doesn't dance, and Phillips replied,  "Do you know who I am? You don't know me?" before threatening to pull her weave out of her head and break her jawbone. Phillips then hit her in the face with a closed fist, causing Black to cut her lip, chip her tooth, and momentarily black out. Phillips then walked away and an companion of his, Ryan Collins (former University of Miami QB), offered to pay the victims sister $20 to keep quiet about the incident. Phillips was confronted about the incident by three security guards and loudly denied any wrong doing, he was threatened a charge of disorderly conduct if he didn't calm down and was kicked out of the club.

Phillips has an extensive history of run ins with the law. As a Junior Heisman hopeful for the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers Phillips was arrested and charged with assault of his ex-girlfriend, a Nebraska basketball player. he was accused of dragging and hitting her in the apartment and hallway. It took three people to get the ex-girlfriend away from Phillips. She went to the hospital to get treated for bruises, scrapes, and cuts.

In 1996 the ex-girlfriend filed a civil lawsuit against Phillips, and Kansas City Star reporter Joe Lambe obtained the court documents which presented an extensive list of abuse and sexual assaults including threatening to shoot her kneecaps and elbows if she was dating anyone else, because it was the "Los Angeles gang style of dealing with people."

Earlier in the year he was arrested for vandalism, misdemeanor assault, and disturbing the peace. He plead innocent and received a pre trial diversion. He was suspended -- not kicked off the team -- and allowed to start the teams Fiesta Bowl scoring three touchdowns and raising his NFL Draft stock.

After being drafted #6 overall by the St. Louis Rams on April 20, 1996 he couldn't even stay out of trouble before signing his first NFL contract. Phillips was stopped on June 13, 1996 for going 80 miles per hour in his gold Mercedes with a flat tire. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and police went on record to say, "He was upset. That's all we're going to say." He was sentenced to 23 days in jail for breaking his probation on the assault of his ex-girlfriend.

In February 1997 he was arrested yet again, this time after a party he was throwing at a hotel.  Police came into his hotel room at around 2:14 AM and saw 5 men and multiple women partying. Phillips became belligerent, swearing at and threatening police. The sergeant stated, "He started getting belligerent . . . we had to arrest him." He was so upset that he had to be restrained by two men at the party. He was later accused and sued for sexual assault, with the victim saying he pinned her against the wall and fondled her.

He was released from the Rams shortly after getting benched by head coach Dick Vermeil, which led to him walking out on the meeting and skipping practice. He was then signed by the Dolphins before the night club incident mentioned above, and was later cut.

He had a brief stay with the NFL Europe where he flourished and received another contract in the NFL, this time with the San Francisco 49er's. He did nothing good for the 49er's, and at the low point allowed a blitzer in who knocked Steve Young unconscious ending his career. He was suspended from the team for conduct detrimental to the team for skipping practices and mocking coaches. He allegedly told coach Steve Mariucci "You don't put me in during games anyway so why should I practice?" Inbetween the time he spent with the 49er's and before signing with AFL and CFL teams, he was arrested again for assaulting his girlfriend and was charged with felony assault and carrying a loaded weapon in a vehicle. He was jailed on a $500,000 bond. In the end he was sentenced to 6 months in jail.

After a one day stint in the Arena Football League in 2001, he got a permit to play in the Canadian Football League despite his criminal history. The head coach there said he had been surprised that he was a "model citizen" and was "well liked." However he was released in 2005 for not meeting minimum behavioural standards, which ended up being sexual assault. In the incident he was also charged with assault and uttering threats. He later skipped a court date and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Then came the highlight of his criminal career, which was after his NFL career ended with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. Phillips was wanted on numerous domestic abuse charges, one in which he choked a girlfriend until she lost consciousness, and was considered extremely dangerous. He had told police that there was "no way you're going to arrest me," and in other instances had announced that there was no way he was going to go peacefully. Then in August, 2005 they finally caught Phillips. He was playing a pickup game of football, the only football at that time he could play apparently, when he got into an argument with the teens he was playing with. He left the field only to return in a Honda that was reported stolen and ran over three of the kids. He had been upset about losing the game and accused the teenagers of stealing from him. The kids were treated for non-life threatening injuries, and Phillips was charged with suspicion of attempted murder and domestic abuse and held without bail. In 2008 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, after his attorneys tried to say he was driving recklessly and not trying to assault anyone.

In 2009 Phillips was sentenced to 31 years and 4 months in jail after being found guilty of seven counts, including assault with great bodily injury, corporal injury to a spouse or roommate, false imprisonment, making a criminal threat and auto theft. Thus ending the chance, for now, that any other person will be harmed by the mayhem that was Lawrence Phillips.


  1. Draft day, so obviously his name comes up on any list of busts. May be worst of all time, when you consider the person (and I use that term loosely). Rae Carruth would be the best competition.

    Great post with great detail - thanks!

  2. The greatest running back with all the talent that never devoloped or materialized. Phillips could have easily exceded the performances of Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, OJ Simpsons, Jim Brown, or Emmit Smith. He was one hell of an athlete.