The Rise and Pathetic Fall of Just-Sentenced Ex-Bronco Montee Ball
Update: Earlier this year, former Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball was charged with two separate domestic-abuse incidents in Wisconsin; see our previous coverage below.
Ball, who was released by the Broncos shortly before the team began its march to a Super Bowl 50 victory, subsequently reached a plea agreement that entailed the dropping of one charge and the reduction of another from a felony to a misdemeanor. The result was supposed to be a stint on probation — but the judge in the case has ordered that Ball spend sixty days in jail as well.
During the hearing in which this news was delivered, Ball, as seen above, wore a shirt tinted a bold orange — a color associated with both the Broncos and prison jumpsuits. This dual meaning is all too appropriate, given that his NFL career is almost certainly over.
Following a spectacular college career at the University of Wisconsin (he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy), Ball was selected by Denver in the second round of the 2013 draft. He was supposed to be the long-term solution for the squad's running game, but he never blossomed as coaches had hoped — and in 2015, he was cut loose. He subsequently caught on with the New England Patriots, only to be released again...after which his troubles with the law soon overwhelmed his life.
The odds that Ball gets another NFL chance are exceedingly small. Note that former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice remains out of work more than two years after a domestic-violence episode involving his now-wife that was caught on video. And while the 29-year-old Rice is older than Ball, who's 25, he was also an extremely productive rusher at one point. In contrast, Ball was widely viewed as a bust even before his arrests — and it's extraordinarily difficult to imagine a franchise risking the inevitable public-relations hit it would take by giving him another chance.
Granted, Dallas Cowboys super-rookie Ezekiel Elliott is currently staring down domestic-violence accusations, and prognosticators aren't ready to say he'll never take an NFL snap. But Ball is no longer a promising new prospect. He's an under-performer whose only mark in the league is likely to be as a cautionary tale.
Continue for our earlier reports.
Update 5:51 a.m. March 18: Last month, we told you about battery charges filed against Montee Ball, who had been a running back with the Denver Broncos until just months before the squad's Super Bowl 50 victory. See our previous coverage below.
Now, Ball has been hit by additional accusations of strangulation, suffocation and more related to an alleged domestic-abuse incident that is said to have happened when Ball was still a Bronco.
The scoop comes from the Wisconsin State Journal, a newspaper based in the state where Ball played in college — and where he was busted for the previous incident, in which he allegedly threw a woman across a hotel room and into a table.
News about the latter case prompted the second woman to come forward, the Journal notes.
The woman says that she and Ball were an item on June 28, 2014, when they got into a fight that reignited after she found him hanging out at the bar in a Double Tree hotel in Madison, Wisconsin.
After they argued in the Double Tree's lobby, the woman told police, she met with Ball in his room. She maintains that he was drunk.
Before long, the spat started up again in response to a text to Ball from a female acquaintance that read, "You should come over." During it, the woman says Ball threw his cell phone at her, striking her under her left eye, then picked up the device and hurled it in her direction again; this time, he missed.
But that didn't mean the violence was over, the woman says.
She asserts that Ball put a hand or hands on her throat, lifted her off the floor and pushed her against a wall, causing her to lose consciousness.
The next thing she knew, Ball was physically tossing her out of the room, the woman allows.
Additionally, the woman told police about another incident eight days earlier, when Ball allegedly grabbed her by the neck and pushed her down on a bed.
Authorities responded by filing new charges against Ball yesterday: felony strangulation and suffocation, plus misdemeanor domestic disorderly conduct.
A Ball spokesman denied the latest charges to the paper while casting aspersions on the player's accuser, saying, "This criminal complaint against Mr. Ball contains only allegations of a single individual who may have her own motivations for making such an accusation against a prominent athlete. They consist of selective allegations, two years after the fact, made by one side in this dispute.”
Ball is due in court on Monday to hear the new charges.
Continue for our previous coverage.
Original post, 6:27 a.m. February 18: Oh, what a difference a few months make.
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In early September, running back Montee Ball was a member of the Denver Broncos squad that would go on to win Super Bowl 50.
Now, however, he's a free agent without an NFL job, as well as an arrestee charged with battery in an incident with his girlfriend in Madison, Wisconsin, during which he allegedly threw her into a table just days after backhanding her across the face.
Ball was a standout at the University of Wisconsin — a first-team All-American who was twice named the best running back in the Big Ten and was once a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Among those he played alongside: future Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Montee Ball being led off by police during a 2012 block party in Wisconsin. He was cited in the incident.
As for his life off the field, he was regarded as a solid citizen with only one notable negative mark on his record.
In May 2012, as noted by the Sporting News, he was busted on a trespassing beef after he refused orders to leave the porch of an apartment building during the Mifflin Street Block Party, an annual bash in Madison.
He was subsequently given a $429 citation — and he was hardly the only one. More than 250 other people reportedly received the same kind of ticket.
This incident didn't scare off the Broncos, who selected Ball in the second round of the 2013 draft.
Montee Ball being introduced to the press after being drafted by the Broncos, alongside then-head coach John Fox and general manager John Elway.
He was supposed to be the Broncos' running back of the future, but things didn't work out that way.
In his rookie season, Ball only gained a little more than 500 yards, and in 2014, he started just three games before suffering a groin injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the year.
The following season, he was on the bubble — and by the end of pre-season, he'd fallen off it entirely, as the Broncos cast their lot with competing backs C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. As such, Ball was cut from the roster in early September.
Here's a CBS Sports report about this turn of events.
Although Ball eventually caught on with the New England Patriots, he was relegated to the practice squad, making no significant impact for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and company.
And then came the night of February 5, which is detailed in a police report obtained by Deadspin.
The document is on view below in its entirety, but here's an excerpt, in which Ball's reported victim tells what happened from her perspective when he showed up drunk at her hotel after she complained about his plans to spend time with a buddy and several women instead of with her:
[Victim] stated that Ball, who had returned to the hotel, had been intoxicated and had returned with various foods. [Victim] stated that when Ball had entered, he was intoxicated and he was upset. [Victim] stated to me that she knew something like this was going to happen and that she was fearful for what may happen. While she was retreating further back into the bedroom toward the bed furthest from the door, [victim] stated that she told Ball, “You’re scaring me.” [Victim] further advised that she was previously in an abusive relationship and she was able to see signs of what could happen. [Victim] had stated that she was concerned this evening because of the level of intoxication of Ball.
[Victim] stated that she had previously been in an abusive relationship and that she had disclosed this information to Ball. [Victim] stated that when Ball was in the room, he had made a statement to her to the effect of, “I understand why your old boyfriend put his hands on you. I’m having a hard time not putting my hands on you now.” [Victim] stated that she was on the bed, near the far wall of the room, [room number], and that Ball had grabbed her and threw her across the room. [Victim] stated that she had struck her leg on what she believes was the table, and that she had been bleeding out of her leg as a result. [Victim] stated that it all happened very quickly and that once she was able to gain her composure, she was lying on the ground and she felt pain to the back of her head and to her leg.
That's not all. When she was being examined at an area hospital, a police officer noticed the woman had a bruise on her lip. She said that several days earlier, Ball had reacted to statements she'd made about him spending too much money by backhanding her across the face.
No Super Bowl parade for Ball. Instead, he was cut loose by the Patriots on February 9 amid his current trouble with the law — which is only beginning.
Look below to see a larger version of his booking photo, followed by the police report.