Broncos kicker Matt Prater is unusual when it comes to NFL players suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Instead of being punished for consuming marijuana or other drugs, he's going to be riding the pine for downing what his attorney, Harvey Steinberg, describes as "a couple beers at home on vacation."
At about 3 a.m. on August 2, 2011, as we reported at the time, Greenwood Village police officers were called to the community's Hyatt Hotel. There, four witnesses said they'd seen a purple Chevrolet Trailblazer smack a car in the parking lot.
Instead of checking out the damage, the driver reportedly split for the hotel lobby, where officers subsequently found a 22-year-old woman who worked at Shotgun Willie's. She told the cops she'd been riding in the Trailblazer with someone named "Matt P" -- but rather than stay with her at the Hyatt following the accident, he split, leaving her there.
A welcome sign from the original Shotgun Willie's location.
He also abandoned the Trailblazer, a rental vehicle with a parking permit from the Broncos training facility sporting Prater's name. Also inside -- a duffel bag full of footballs.
At that point, the police began searching for Prater -- and they found him at a nearby La Quinta. He insisted that he hadn't consumed any liquor since 7 p.m. the evening before, yet the police report said he had booze on his breath and bloodshot eyes and fumbled throughout a field sobriety drill. A test subsequently put his blood alcohol content at .142, not quite double the legal standard for intoxication.
The report quoted Prater as saying, "I really messed up... I'm going to lose my job" -- and that certainly seemed possible at the time given the negative PR surrounding former cornerback Perrish Cox, charged with fathering the child of a rape victim. (Cox was ultimately found not guilty at trial; he's now a San Francisco 49er.) The Broncos' statement about the bust was certainly negative. It read in part: "Our organization is disappointed with the poor judgment shown by Matt Prater on Aug. 2.
Prater's team photo for the Broncos.
Nonetheless, Prater remained on the Denver squad, and last December, he solidified his status as one of the NFL's elite kickers by booting a 64-yard field goal -- the longest in league history
He won't get the chance to extend that mark right away. Due to the 2011 arrest, Prater was enrolled in the league's alcohol-abuse program, and he's regularly tested to make sure he remains in compliance. Those "couple beers" mentioned by Steinberg rated a violation that could have earned Prater a suspension for an entire year, but the attorney is said to have bargained the punishment down to four games. As a result, Prater will be unavailable until the October 12 game against the New York Jets.
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We're guessing those beers left quite a bitter aftertaste.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.