|Jags' Barnes ducks questions about crash, latest legal troubles|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 03 October 2007 11:15|
Barnes did acknowledge he was concerned about his reputation following a one-car car accident Saturday morning that raised suspicions and cast doubt on his future with the franchise.
``I always worry about that kind of stuff,'' said Barnes, a second-round pick in 2005 who graduated with a criminal justice degree from Washington. ``I don't want to be labeled as a bad guy or anything like that. My family knows me and people who really know me, they don't see me as a bad guy.''
Barnes, already on probation for a drunken driving charge, drove through a yard, crashed into a tree and then left the accident scene, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.
He was cited for careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. He also was charged with violating a provision of his probation that limited his driving to work purposes.
Barnes' attorney said he fell asleep while driving to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for mandatory treatment for a sprained ankle. Coach Jack Del Rio backed up his explanation publicly.
But others seem less sure about what happened, especially because treatment sessions are typically at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
``I don't want to drag him under the bus. He's gone through a lot,'' running back Fred Taylor said. ``But at the same time, you've got to be a little bit more responsible to yourself and to your teammates regardless of whatever happened. Bottom line.''
Linebacker Mike Peterson said the Jaguars would support Barnes no matter what actually happened.
``That's your side business you've got to take care of,'' Peterson said. ``But once you come in this locker room we're not going to ask you questions about it. We're focused on getting ready for Sunday, and he realized that.
``Sometimes you wish guys wouldn't go through those situations or accidents wouldn't happen, but they happen.''
Del Rio refused to say whether Barnes faced disciplinary action or possibly being benched.
``It's disappointing for me as the head coach to have to field any questions that have anything to do with any topic other than the Kansas City Chiefs and getting ready for this ballgame this weekend,'' Del Rio said.
``It's been documented. There are a couple of citations that have been issued. He's got to deal with that.''
According to police, Barnes reported the accident just after 6:30 a.m. Saturday. When officers arrived, they found his 2007 Mercedes crashed into a tree and the ignition key nearby in the grass.
Police then went to Barnes' home, but he wasn't there.
His attorney, Hank Coxe, said Barnes borrowed a car from a relative and drove to the stadium. Coxe said Barnes left treatment and went straight to the sheriff's office.
Regardless of the circumstances, the accident has become a distraction as the Jaguars (2-1) return from a bye week and prepare for a trip to Kansas City (2-2), which has won two in a row and seven of its last eight at home.
It also was another blemish on Barnes' record.
He was arrested last November on a drunk driving charge and then had an obscenity-laced rant about racist police in Jacksonville and playing in a hick town. He apologized for those remarks, saying they were brought on by the stress of his arrest. He also was benched for a game.
He pleaded no contest in July to the charge and was sentenced to six months on probation. He also had his driver's license suspended for six months, a penalty that allowed him to drive to and from work.
If his latest accident had anything to do with alcohol, he probably would have faced discipline from the league.
``I know we've got a pretty stiff commissioner,'' Taylor said. ``You never know what he's going to do. I don't know what the head coach is going to do as far as punishment. I don't know what's going to happen.''