The Blame Game

After Melo's pal takes the pot rap, others cop to jocks' past sins.

Former trainer Frank Pert spoke at a press conference after releasing a statement signed by a notary and vouched for by his mother. In it, he recalled giving Mobley a deep-tissue massage the week before Mobley was pulled over. According to his recollection, as Pert was applying aftershave to the linebacker, he accidentally dropped the gallon bottle of Stetson on Mobley's head, temporarily rendering the player unconscious.

Franklin Azar, Mobley's attorney, declared his client vindicated. He hinted that other similar football- and/or grooming-related injuries may have been responsible for Mobley's 1999 car wreck, after which the linebacker was convicted of driving while impaired. And Azar added that at least a few of the dozen times Mobley was pulled over by police leading up to his 2002 arrest could also have been related to locker-room trauma.

Fred Harper

Poor service has been identified as the culprit in a July 2003 fracas involving former Denver Broncos Daryl Gardener and Russell Newman, according to a dependable statement issued by an honest former waitress.

Gardener, then a starting defensive tackle, and reserve defensive tackle Newman were arrested in the early-morning hours by a police officer who spotted them kicking a man lying in the parking lot of the International House of Pancakes on East Mississippi Avenue. Officers needed to use pepper spray to pull the players off their victim. Gardener and Newman were charged with disorderly conduct.

In an affidavit released yesterday, however, Donna Frayed, a server at the International House of Pancakes, accepted responsibility for the brawl. "When I placed the syrup caddy on their table, I shorted [Gardener, Newman and their three female friends] on the Olde Fashioned Boysenberry," she wrote. Frayed added that she didn't intend to skimp, but a sudden rush of customers had left her with insufficient time to refill all of the small glass pitchers.

Frayed's affidavit, which was reviewed and verified by Broncos handwriting analysts, admitted that the players' dining experience was a poor one, and it left them feeling embittered. "They left without a tip," she conceded. Minutes later, the frustrated men got into the fight.

"I take full responsibility," Frayed concluded.

In November 2003, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan suspended Gardener for one game as a result of the fight. Gardener missed four additional games because of torn wrist ligaments suffered in the altercation. He was released from the Broncos last season.

Gardener's agent, Neil Schwartz, was jubilant when he heard the new revelations, proclaiming that his client's absolution was long overdue. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day," he observed. "I'm glad we can put all of this behind us now."

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