|Outside The Lines: Athletes and Their Posses
Bob Ley, Host: May 14, 2000: Athletes play hard on the field.
Many play harder off of it. This potent mix of fame, fortune and
celebrity attracts all sorts of people to their social sphere.
Darryl Henley, Former NFL Player Serving Prison Term: I believe
that at 22, 23 years old, guys do need direction.
Ley: For some, an entourage, or posse, can serve as a compass.
Unidentified Male: Those are the friends they grew up, culturally
referred to as their homeys or their homeboys.
Ley: For others, it's little more than a ticket to trouble.
Henley: I don't care who you are. I don't care how
straight-laced you are, if you choose to hang out in that type of
atmosphere, then people are going to come.
Ley: This morning on OUTSIDE THE LINES on the eve of the Ray
Lewis murder trial, athletes and their posses.
Announcer: OUTSIDE THE LINES is presented by 1-800-CALLATT.
Joining us from ESPN studios, Bob Ley.
Ley: The wrong place at the wrong time, that in essence is what
Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens will try to convince a jury happened to him, how in the early morning hours after the Super Bowl outside an Atlanta nightclub, he and two members of his posse were involved in a
fight in which two other men were stabbed to death.
No one has suggested that Lewis had a knife in his hand. But
under Georgia law, he faces a charge of felony murder with a possible life
Lewis asked for a trial separate from his co-defendants, each of
whom has a long criminal history. But Ray Lewis will be tried the way he
apparently socialized, with two members of his entourage that night in
The jury will be selected beginning tomorrow morning. Ray Lewis
and the other two men, of course, are presumed innocent.
Darryl Henley is decidedly not. This graduate of a Catholic high
school and UCLA could have won a championship ring in the very Super Bowl
that brought Ray Lewis and his friends to Atlanta.
But as ShelLey Smith reports, the choices Henley made about his
friends have destroyed his life.
Shelley Smith, ESPN Correspondent (voice-over): This is Darryl
Henley today, an inmate at the U.S. penitentiary in Marion, Illinois,
where he is locked in his cell 22 hours a day, restricted to five
15-minute phone calls per month, and five monthly visitations.
Separated from his visitors by a glass partition, sentenced to 41
years for drug trafficking and attempted murder, the 33-year-old Henley is
not eligible for parole until he is 65.
This was Darryl Henley before Marion, all-American quarterback at
UCLA and a starter with the Los Angeles Rams, a man who seemingly had it
all, until he, by his own admission, began hanging out with the wrong
people at the wrong time.
(on camera): How much do you think the fact that you're in this
situation is because of the people you chose to be around?
Henley: I think that ultimately I'm the one that's responsible
for what's happening in my life. But I do think that 90 percent of it is
due to the choices I made as far as the associations I picked, chose.
Smith: You got sucked in.
Henley: Yeah, not realizing that when you accept someone's
association, not only are you accepting their association, but you're
accepting their associations as well. And I just found myself in a
situation where when things were falling that I didn't know.
I just didn't know. I didn't know people. I didn't know it was
that everything was happening. I just didn't know.
Smith: Why do you think you weren't able to say, "OK, I'm not
going to associate with you guys anymore."
Henley: I think it's two-fold. One is you have the friendship
and you enjoy hanging out. Not being able to - or having the inability to
see the difference in having fun and compromising things that you wouldn't
And instead of saying, "I'm really not comfortable with this,"
instead of saying that, what should have been said was, "Adios. I've got
to go, or you've got to go." Or, "This is what's happening." Let me
leave this - the whole situation altogether.
Smith: That's not an easy thing to do.
Henley: No, and I think that people really think it is. I think
that people think because you're a professional athlete it's easy for you
to make the good and right choices.
I mean, look, that could not be farther from the truth.
Smith: What was the attraction? You lost focus. But what was
the attraction with the group of people that you started associating with?
Henley: When you go out and you're hanging out at 2:00, 3:00, and
4:00 in the morning every single morning, you're going to attract people
of all types. I don't care who you are, I don't care how straight-laced
you are, if you choose to hang out in that type of atmosphere, then people
are going to come. They're going to flock to you.
And for the most part, you do a good job of steering clear of
situations. The people that I was hanging around, they'd laugh. They
came and kicked it at my house. And if I wanted them to come and watch me
work out, they came and watched me work out.
If I didn't want to work out, if I didn't want to jog, they would
drive alongside me in my Mercedes while I ran. I mean, whatever it was
that I wanted them to do...
Smith: You thought they were friends.
Henley: Yeah, they were. I mean, for all intents and purposes,
they were my friends.
Smith: Was any of that worth it?
Henley: No. Not one thing we did. Not one place we went. Not
one strip girl we saw. Nothing, not one thing, was worth that.
Not one single thing was worth the smallest of my charges, not one
thing. No, not one thing was worth them saying guilty as charged.
Ley: As one of his sentencing judges said, quote, "If ever a guy
needed to be locked down 24 hours a day, it's Henley." He was sent
directly to this most secure of federal prisons.
When we continue, Henley discusses how athletes like Ray Lewis
should choose their company. And I'll be talking live with Herman
Edwards, assistant head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and USC
Professor Todd Boyd on the topic of athletes and their posses on OUTSIDE
Smith: When you heard about the Ray Lewis situation, what did you
think? He was with a group of guys at 4:00 in the morning.
Henley: Well, you know, I'm going to be careful with this. So -
I don't know Ray Lewis. I only know what I've heard in the paper and the
media. So I couldn't even begin to explain anything.
I think that any time you surround yourself with people whose
interests conflict with yours, then you're headed for disaster. I don't
know that situation.
But I know this. I know that if I go out and I have three buddies
with me and there is an altercation, those two buddies, they aren't the
ones who are going to show up on ESPN and "20/20" and all of the news. I
Smith: If his friends are doing things that they shouldn't be
doing, but he says, "Hey, they're my friends. They're my boys. I grew up
with them. I've got to stay loyal to them."
Henley: I think that if they're your boys, then they will
understand if you don't associate with them. You understand what I'm
saying? I mean, if they're your boys, then they will tell you, "Man,
look, I appreciate how you come to me and you recognize me in the public.
But I'm doing my thing, and you don't need anything to be a backlash from
"So we can holler at each other. But as far as going out and this
and that, it's probably not a good idea for you."
I mean, that's what your boys will tell you.
Smith: Did anyone ever tell you, "You shouldn't be hanging out
with those people? You're with the wrong group, you're with the wrong
Henley: No, but at the same time, I'm not sure that - at that
point in my life I wouldn't have listened to that. I believe that at 22,
23 years old, guys do need direction, that if people would pull them aside
and say, "Listen, let me explain this to you. Or let me tell you a story
about this guy named Darryl Henley, and it's not far from what I see
happening in your life. And I'm not saying that this would happen to you,
but I am saying that it's not worth rolling the dice. It's not."
Smith: If there's an athlete now who is hanging out with people
who, as you said, don't have the same interests or his best interests at
heart, and you say to him, "This is the story of Darryl Henley, listen to
me. This is what happened to me," what do you say to them about the
choices they make regarding associations?
Henley: What you experience on Sunday, I've experienced that.
What you experienced in the hotel before the game, I experienced that.
What you're doing during the game, the anxiety and the emotions, the
butterflies, the ups and the downs, I've been there.
You're not that far away from wearing a different uniform than you
were on Sundays. You're not that far away. The decisions that you make -
I mean, I am fighting for my life.
Ley: And we welcome this morning from Tampa, Florida, the
assistant head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Herman Edwards. A
10-year veteran as a player, he is working with the league on all field
And from Los Angeles, we welcome Todd Boyd, an associate professor
at the University of Southern California, who has written extensively on
American popular culture.
Herman, let me begin with you. We heard Darryl Henley say in his
young twenties, he wouldn't have listened to some cautionary tales. How
many of today's athletes will listen to words of caution?
Herman Edwards, Assistant Head Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Well,
I think in our league, I think most of the athletes do listen to words of
caution. I think our league has done a great job of providing that advice
And every once in a while, we hit some speed bumps. And obviously
we don't like it because it affects the whole league. And obviously, it
affects society in such.
But we would like our players obviously to not get themselves in
situations that have risen over the last couple of years.
Ley: Todd, do you think the message is getting through, that
people are receptive, young guys, 22, 23, millionaires?
Todd Boyd, Associate Professor, University of Southern California:
Well, Bob, I hope they're receptive, because at some point it's going to
cost them a great deal of money if they don't pay attention to what's been
happening over the last six or eight months. You know, it's very
expensive to have to defend yourself in court, as well as facing the
possibility of going to jail and losing all that great money you make from
So I think if nothing else, it's like the Wu Tang Clan said, you
know, "Cash rules everything around me." And most of these athletes are
very familiar with hip-hop. They should heed that lesson.
Ley: Well, let's talk about money, Herman. Since you came into
the league as a rookie in 1977, the money has grown exponentially. Is
that the way to get through to players? And as the money has increased,
has money been the reason that we have seen more posses, more quote,
unquote, "hangers on"?
Edwards: Well, I think our society has kind of - they put the
players now on obviously a pedestal. And I think money has a factor to do
But I also think that the choices that you make as an individual
have more a factor than anything. I think the guys that you hang around
with, you have to watch yourself with because all of a sudden you come
into this league, you've gathered some friends that you didn't even know
All of a sudden, they're your friends. And they want to do this
for you and do that for you. And I think you have to take heed on who you
hang out with and associate with, obviously.
Ley: We're going to pick up on that point as we continue. We're
going to have more with Herman Edwards of the Buccaneers and Todd Boyd
from USC in a moment as we discuss athletes and their posses OUTSIDE THE
Ley: We continue with Herman Edwards and Todd Boyd on the topic
of athletes and posses.
Gentlemen, I'm going to play a piece of tape for you. It's
Gunther Cunningham, the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, talking
about dealing with, administrating, and running a team, and watching some
athletes on your team leave with posses.
Gunther Cunningham, Head Coach, Kansas City Chiefs: To me, it's
the biggest joke I've ever seen when a player needs 15 guys around him so
he can go from his house to the stadium. You know, the less guys I have
around me, the better I like it. And that's what I've got to convince
them. Choose your friends wisely.
Ley: Todd, obviously those were wise words of advice. But is
this something that middle aged administrators and coaches can relate and
be sure that 23-year-old guys are going to listen to?
Boyd: Well, it's interesting listening to his comments because I
think they reflect the fact that he is completely out of touch with his
players and the culture that they come from. It's not only age. It's the
factor we're talking about primarily African American athletes who come
from very low-income families. And their background is quite different
than say mainstream middle class America.
And oftentimes what we find is mainstream middle class America
wanting to force these individuals to fit into whatever slot they want
them to fit into as opposed to recognizing that these are people from
different cultures, different cultural backgrounds, different
philosophies, different outlooks.
And maybe there should be more understanding of that on the front
end. And maybe some of this sort of communication gap could be eliminated
if there's more understanding that these people are from a completely
different cultural background.
Ley: Herman, is there a cultural gap between the message and the
Edwards: I think he makes some good points. But also, I think
the point that we understand about our sport is that it is a sport. And
it doesn't really matter.
When you become a member of that football team for the
organization, what you've really said is you have to build trust within
the organization, within the players that you play with. And that's the
uniqueness of our sport, whether you be a Democrat or a Republican.
When you get in a huddle and hold hands, obviously you have to
trust the guy you're holding hands with because you're trying to get a job
done. And obviously, that is to win a Super Bowl.
So I think that the standard has been set. Once you choose to
become a player in the National Football League, there's a standard that
you have to meet. And obviously, we ask all our players to meet that
standard on the field. And obviously, there's some standards they have to
meet off the field also.
Ley: Have you had to pull a player aside and talk to him about
something like this?
Edwards: Yeah. We have a great guy here, Kevin Winston (ph), he
does our player programs with us and works closely with myself and Tony.
And there's some times when players get in some jams. They start
associating with the wrong guys. And we try to let them know that, that
in their best interests we're trying to make sure that they're associating
with the right guys.
Ley: Todd, let's pick up on the cultural aspect. I think in an
athletic sense, I think most people have an idea what the pressures are in
somebody coming into the NBA or the NFL or Major League Baseball making a
lot of money. But once the game is over and you move out of the
clubhouse, what are the cultural pressures on a young icon with a lot of
Boyd: Well, you have to look at this. We're talking about people
for the most part, Bob, who have never had a checking account before they
get drafted. I mean, and a checking account is not a big deal
necessarily. We're talking about people who have never written their own
And now their bank account is full. They have large sums of
money. They're very visible. They're very prominent.
And I think we need to look at the fact that they're young. Most
22 years old, whatever background they're from, if they have this much
money, they're probably not always going to make the best decisions.
I think you have to recognize when you come from a ghetto
community and you don't have much in the way of material possessions,
things like authenticity and loyalty become even that much more important.
So as you watch someone go up the ladder, you find that there are many
people who are depending on this person, who are looking up to this
person, and who see this person's success as their own success.
And so when they get to the league, it's almost as though this is
the payoff. This is what we've been putting all this time and investment
And I think a lot of people feel in the community that these
individuals are from that they're very much a part of this person's
success. And so it's not always easy to simply say to them, "OK, now I'm
in this new position. Would you back off?"
On the other hand, the individual often feels most comfortable
because they're surrounded by people they're familiar with. And this
larger world on the outside still I think is very hostile to them, very
uncomfortable in many ways.
Ley: Well, let me ask Herman about that. Let me get the reaction
from Herman about it. If you ask a player to disassociate from individual
acts, he says, "Wait, this is my friend. I've known this guy for five,
10, 15 years."
Edwards: Well, no I don't think you ask them that. I think you
have to make sure that the standards that you're trying to set for
yourself now as an individual, that that person you associate with can
meet your standards. Obviously, there's a high standard that needs to be
met in society as well as in the National Football League.
There's some standards that you have to keep when you become a
player in this league, obviously on the field and off the field. My
suggestion to the players is that you should help those guys meet the
standards that you're supposed to meet now because you've become a player
in the National Football League. And obviously, if you can help that guy
and help your partner to understand that, I think that's where the true
loyal friendship really arises, that...
Ley: Are veteran players, Herman, the best messengers for this,
rather than coaches, administrators, league officials, union officials?
Edwards: Obviously, yes. Because they've been through it,
they've been through the pitfalls of the young players that are coming in.
Obviously, some of the veteran players that are going out of the league
now are not making obviously the money that the young players are making
But I think they still had problems balancing their checkbook
whether it was $100,000 or $1 million. I mean, it's all relative. But I
think that the older players have grabbed a lot of young players and tried
to give them advice. And our league is obviously very on top of this
subject. And we would like to help all our players as much as we can.
Ley: A quick last word to Todd Boyd. Can the leagues and the
teams deal with this effectively?
Boyd: Well, I think they could deal with it effectively if they
recognized that there needs to be some sort of understanding that we're
talking about African Americans from a lower income environment. And most
of America operates from a very middle class, mainstream perspective.
Those two things are a contradiction...
Ley: All right...
Boyd: And until we all understand that, I don't think this
issue is going to change.
Ley: Thank you very much, gentlemen. We're running out of
time. Our thanks this morning to Herman Edwards of the Tampa Bay Bucs,
and Professor Todd Boyd of USC. We've been discussing posses and
We've got more. We'll take a look at our mail bag from last
week's program. Stay with us.
Ley: Last week's program on academics and the University of
Tennessee football program filled our e-mail inbox. Much of the reaction
was negative, much of it, not all of it, from the volunteer state.
A viewer from Alexandra, Virginia, writing: "It appears we have
nothing more than an ax to grind with Tennessee. I don't doubt that
athletes at Tennessee enroll in easy majors. But is that scandalous? No.
Although I hate Tennessee and their football program, from all
appearances, your efforts seem to be nothing more than an attempt to smear
Oklahoma City, a viewer that is so tired of the media looking for
the negative in athletics. "I have no problem with my university being
questioned. But I truly believe you're trying to create a story, not get
to some hidden truth.
"I know that many professors dislike athletics. And they do not
understand the amount of work, intelligence, and discipline that athletics
require. It is my hope that ESPN will start following the standards to
which they're trying to hold everyone else."
And this perspective from Greenwood, Mississippi: "Football
players make a ton of money for UT. I understand that education is an
issue. But we have to look at the total picture. Playing football for UT
is a full-time job."
A reminder that OUTSIDE THE LINES is online at ESPN.com. The
keyword, type it in, otlweekly. Explore our video excerpts and the
library of program transcripts.
And you can also e-mail your reaction and story suggestions to us.
Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, we thank you for
Ley: If you missed any portion of this morning's show on athletes
and posses, it will be re-airing on ESPN2 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
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