Wide receiver David Boston will get his day in court, but he’s seen his last day as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
The Buccaneers reached an injury settlement with Boston and released him on Wednesday.
Boston’s release comes one week after the Pinellas Park Police Department announced that it planned to follow through with a misdemeanor DUI charge stemming from his Aug. 23 arrest and a urinalysis test that came up positive for GHB in his system.
Boston still maintains his innocence, and the Bucs believe there’s still a chance the wide receiver is in fact innocent, but general manager Bruce Allen stated Wednesday that the results of Boston’s urinalysis caught organization’s attention.
“That’s a serious charge to make, and we talked to David about that and there are obviously two sides to the story,” said Allen. “David has said he’s innocent, and we’ll let him defend himself. But we take that very seriously.
“I think the courts will determine his innocence or guilt. We’ll let it go at that.”
Boston was arrested on Aug. 23 after he was found asleep at the wheel of his vehicle while stopped at a red light at a Pinellas Park intersection. The vehicle was still running.
According to police reports, the Pinellas Park policemen on the scene had to wake Boston, who then informed the police that he was heading from Celebration in Orlando to the Tampa International Airport. The Bucs conducted training camp near Celebration, but it ended on Aug. 16
Boston passed a breathalyzer test after he blew a 0.000. However, police arrested him shortly after putting him through a field sobriety test.
One day after Boston’s arrest, the Bucs released a statement that said there was no “objective evidence” that suggested Boston was guilty of the charge brought against him.
Last Thursday, the Pinellas Park Police Department announced that Boston’s urinalysis had tested positive for GHB, also known as gamma hydroxybutrate, a central nervous system depressant that is often used by body builders as an aid to burn fat and build muscle. GHB is taken in liquid or powder form and has also been referred to as “liquid ecstasy” and the “date rape drug” as it can cause drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and visual disturbances.
Shortly after the Pinellas Park Police Department released the results of Boston’s urinalysis, the former first-round draft pick released the following statement.
"All I am able to say at this time is that I have done nothing wrong; I was not impaired. I have assured, and will continue to assure, the Buccaneers that I have done nothing wrong. And, in the end when this matter is resolved the facts will show that I have done nothing wrong. I appreciate the Buccaneers organization believing in me and the fans for their support."
Despite the fact that Boston continued to proclaim his innocence, the results of his urinalysis – along with his foot injury– apparently changed things from the Bucs’ perspective.
“The evidence we saw and the evidence we gathered, and the other tests we had other experts look at and we felt at that time there was no objective evidence,” said Allen.
“At the time we made that statement all of the evidence was pointing in his favor. Obviously something came out three weeks after that, and that obviously didn’t look favorable on David.”
The Bucs planned on having Boston play in the team’s 2007 regular season opener in Seattle, but he injured ligaments in his foot during pre-game warm-ups. Boston was active for the game but didn’t play vs. the Seahawks.
That injury along with Boston’s off-the-field issue prompted the Bucs to reach an injury settlement with him and release him. The Bucs filled Boston’s 53-man roster spot by signing WR Mark Jones.
“His injury is a legitimate injury,” Allen said. “Otherwise he would have played in the game against Seattle. We feel we need a healthy receiver for this game. It’s in the Bucs’ best interest to go in this direction. Bringing Mark back is a move that will help us, especially when you consider some of the other bumps and bruises we have. We needed some help in the return game.”
If Boston pleads guilty to – or is convicted of – the DUI charge, he could face a suspension and/or fine from the NFL. It would be his second suspension since entering the NFL after he was suspended four games during the 2004 season for testing positive for steroids.
The Bucs have all but ruled out Boston’s return to Tampa Bay regardless of how his legal situation unfolds in the courts.
“I think we’ve moved on,” said Allen.
The Bucs had big plans for Boston, who signed a one-year contract with the team in January. He spent the 2006 training camp and preseason with Tampa Bay and actually made the team’s 53-man roster before being released during the first week of the season.
Boston battled his way back from two major knee injuries and turned in an impressive training camp and preseason this year, but that was before his latest run-in with the law.
“I’m very disappointed not only for David Boston but for our fans,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said. “This is a guy that got hurt in the pre-game warm-up, turned his ankle or whatever it was and there are some pending things going on off the field that will be resolved by people of a high authority and more knowledge than me. But for two years it was a Cinderella story. We had hoped that he would be able to come back and rejuvenate his career and unfortunately it did not work out. But we gave it everything we had, I will say this, he certainly elevated the play of Ike Hilliard and Mike Clayton and all the receivers in training camp. It’s disappointing but at the same time we lost Paris Warren and it’s just a difficult situation that we will have to overcome.”
Although Boston is no longer with them, the Bucs are still monitoring the case of tight end Jerramy Stevens, who was found guilty of driving under the influence by a Scottsdale, Ariz. Jury last Friday.
Stevens was arrested in March after officers determined his blood-alcohol level was four times the legal limit. The Buccaneers signed Stevens to a one-year contract worth the league minimum the next month.
When asked why Stevens had not been punished by the team for his recent conviction on the DUI charge when former Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice was suspended a few seasons ago for missing a team meeting, Allen offered up the following explanation.
“We do have strict Buccaneer policies that we do abide by,” said Allen. “The actions of Jerramy occurred before he was a Buccaneer. The case you brought up is a player before one of our games under our jurisdiction.”
According to the Tampa Tribune, Stevens will at the very least face 30 days in jail. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 2. But even if the Bucs wanted to take action against Stevens, they might not have to. The NFL might do it for them.
“He’ll be subjective to the Substance Abuse Policy,” Allen said of Stevens. ‘Any appeals he has are once again between his lawyers and the courts of Arizona.”
Complicating matters is the fact that Stevens, 27, has had a series of run-ins with the law. In 2003, he was arrested for DUI and later pleaded guilty to reckless driving. He was sentenced to two days in prison for that crime and another five days in jail for violating his probation as it related to a previous charge.
Bucs cornerback Torrie Cox is currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy. Cox reportedly tested positive for alcohol, which was a violation of his contract due to his prior DUI arrests on Dec. 4, 2004 and Sept. 13, 2005.
Despite the controversy and criticism swirling around Tampa Bay’s decision to keep players with some off-the-field issues, Allen insists his team has good character.
“The character of this team is outstanding,” said Allen. “I know a lot of you have met these players, fans have met these players. The character of this team is excellent. As far as giving people an opportunity, we do that for everyone. Sometimes somebody can have some type of ailment or some type of thing in his history, but I don’t think it’s wrong to give somebody an opportunity to succeed as long as he abides by our rules.”