The All-User Team: LBs

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 04, 2005



By Cold, Hard Football Facts senior writer John Dudley
 
 
Since the days of Lawrence Taylor, linebackers have had a reputation as a hard-hitting, hard-living lot. That certainly applies to the linebackers on our contemporary team of Substance Abuse All-Stars. In fact, they hit their opponents and the bottle with equal enthusiasm. But booze isn't the only substance our vice squad has been suspended for: there's a little gunplay and the occasional use of "health supplements" that test like steroids.
 
OLB Raynoch Thompson
Like Leonard Little, Thompson was an All-American linebacker at the University of Tennessee. The similarities, unfortunately, don't end there, though. Thompson also shares Little's thirst for alcohol, having entered the league's substance-abuse program after a drunken driving arrest in October of 2001. Subject to random tests, Thompson failed one in 2003 – and his liquid weakness was again to blame. He was suspended for the final four games of that season, but he appealed the ruling with a rock-solid story: He didn't "remember" drinking alcohol.
 
As was his right, Thompson kept the positive test result to himself throughout the appeal process. Doing so was certainly in his best interest, because he was in the midst of contract negotiations with the Cardinals. It was only after both parties had agreed to a four-year extension worth $11.3 million that the team became aware of his pending suspension. It was just another case of Thompson conveniently forgetting, and his act soon grew old in Arizona. Released after five seasons with the Cardinals, he is slated to start for the Packers this fall.
 
DEFENSIVE STATS 
 
Year
 
Team
 
Games
 
Tackles
 
Sacks
 
INTs
Fumb.
Forced
Fumb.
Rec.
Passes
Def.
2000
Arizona
11
43
0
0
0
0
0
2001
Arizona
14
82
0.5
0
1
0
0
2002
Arizona
16
109
3
0
1
0
3
2003
Arizona
12
63
3
0
1
1
3
2004
Arizona
11
34
1
0
0
0
2
TOTALS
 
64
331
7.5
0
3
1
8
 
OLB Sedrick Hodge
About this time last year, Hodge was preparing to open the season as the Saints' strongside linebacker. Then the league hit him with a blindside shot. He was suspended for four games in late August for violating the substance-abuse policy. It was at least his second infraction, possibly his third, but no Cold, Hard Football Facts were ever released regarding the details. Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, all NFL suspensions are officially kept confidential, but some information – in the form of "spin control" – is often released by the offending player or his agent.
 
Although he isn't on the Panthers, the team with by far the most representation on our Dope Squad, Hodge did play his college ball in Carolina. We don't know the former Tar Heel's drug of choice, but the pharmacists on Tobacco Road probably have it in vast supply. Hodge has started 32 games in his four-year career with New Orleans, and he has apparently retained his customary strongside spot for 2005.
 
DEFENSIVE STATS 
 
Year
 
Team
 
Games
 
Tackles
 
Sacks
 
INTs
Fumb.
Forced
Fumb.
Rec.
Passes
Def.
2001
New Orleans
16
21
0
0
0
0
1
2002
New Orleans
16
74
0
0
2
1
4
2003
New Orleans
9
37
1
0
0
0
3
2004
New Orleans
9
25
0
0
0
0
2
TOTALS
 
50
157
1
0
2
1
10
 
MLB T.J. Slaughter
As the centerpiece of our hard-hitting, hard-living linebacking corps, Slaughter has both the violent name and the silent shame. A two-time all-conference middle linebacker during his days at Southern Mississippi, he has played both inside and outside in his NFL career. Slaughter also enjoys a little gunplay every now and then, having been arrested for pointing a weapon at two fellow motorists in 2003, precipitating his release from the Jaguars the following day.

A year earlier, Slaughter was suspended for the first four games of the 2002 season for violating the league's policy governing anabolic steroids and related substances. He claimed not to have used steroids (shocking!), maintaining he tested positive for a banned substance that was part of a health supplement he purchased over the counter. It's funny how virtually every player on our All-User Team simply made an innocent mistake and was the unfortunate victim of a misunderstanding. Slaughter is entering his sixth year in the league and first with the Saints.
 
DEFENSIVE STATS 
 
Year
 
Team
 
Games
 
Tackles
 
Sacks
 
INTs
Fumb.
Forced
Fumb.
Rec.
Passes
Def.
2000
Jacksonville
16
61
0
0
1
0
3
2001
Jacksonville
9
54
1
0
2
0
1
2002
Jacksonville
11
59
0
0
0
2
2
2003
Baltimore
8
24
1
0
1
0
1
2004
Baltimore
14
9
0
0
1
0
0
TOTALS
 
58
207
2
0
5
2
7
 
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005: defensive backs
 

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