Mighty LT pleads not guilty to rape

In  further football news, going along the lines of Ben Roethlisberger we have one of the greatest football players of all time.  Pro football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor was arraigned in New York state Thursday on rape and prostitution charges in connection with the sexual assault of a 16-year-old runaway who police said was brought to his hotel room against her will.

Taylor, 51, was arrested at a Holiday Inn in Suffern, a village in the Town of Ramapo, N.Y., close to the New Jersey border and about 30 miles northwest of New York City.

The former New York Giants linebacker faces a charge of third-degree rape, which can be laid in New York state when the victim is under the age of 17 and either does not give consent or is incapable of giving consent to sex. He was also charged with patronizing a prostitute, with bail set at $75,000 US.

Rasheed Davis, a 36-year-old parolee, was arrested in the case on charges of unlawful imprisonment, assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Police said the girl was reported missing by her family in March and had been staying with Davis in the Bronx for a few weeks. Early Thursday morning, he beat her up, drove her to the hotel and told her she had to have sex with Taylor, police allege.

Taylor, a former New York Giants linebacker, is considered one of the greatest football players of all time but has battled substance abuse problems and been arrested several times since his playing days. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1999 after a career that included two Super Bowls, three defensive most valuable player awards and 142 sacks.

In 2001, Taylor was convicted of possessing drug paraphernalia in New Jersey. The conviction stemmed from the September 1998 discovery in a hotel room of a butane torch and other materials commonly used to smoke crack. In 1996 and 1997, he was arrested in South Carolina and Florida on drug charges. In those cases, he either admitted his guilt or agreed to enter a pretrial intervention program. In 2000, he drew five years of federal probation for filing false tax returns and for tax evasion. More recently, he was arrested last November in Miami after leaving the scene of an automobile accident. Taylor admitted to frequently hiring prostitutes in his 2003 book, LT: Over the Edge, co-authored by Steve Serby.

It’s about damn time

The Raiders ended the JaMarcus Russell era on Thursday when they cut the first overall pick from the 2007 draft. Russell’s release comes less than two weeks after the team acquired QB Jason Campbell from the Washington Redskins. Raiders spokesman John Herrera said of the move to the AP, “We wish him well.”

Russell’s tenure in Oakland will go down as one of the biggest draft mistakes in league history. The Raiders committed more than $30 million in guaranteed money to the LSU product in 2007. But he never came close to meeting expectations and was dogged by criticisms about his commitment level and weight. In three seasons, Russell started 25 games and won just seven of them. Russell will end up realizing approximately $42 million in salary according to NFL Network. Since the common draft was instituted in 1967, his 25 starts are the fewest by any quarterback drafted No. 1 overall (San Francisco’s Alex Smithis next with 40 but will likely extend that number this season).

Early in the offseason, head coach Tom Cable said he would hold an open competition between Russell and Bruce Gradkowki for the team’s starting QB job in training camp. But that changed when Campbell was acquired on April 24. He said at the time that he expected to become the team’s starter. Cable held off anointing him so, and Russell participated in the team’s minicamp last weekend. Russell said last Friday, “My thing is to keep coming out to work until they tell me not to.”

Well, JaMarcus, it looks like they just told you not to.