Sunday, December 10, 2006

Athletes, Not Targets

You'd think that (with their physiques) these guys wouldn't really need 'em. Nitschke didn't. Butkus didn't. Ditka didn't. Starr, Taylor, Hornung....didn't. But these days, it's different.

Roger Renrick is familiar with the prevalence of guns among professional athletes. A former Boston police officer, Renrick is now a bodyguard who has worked for Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker and Jalen Rose. Renrick describes gun ownership among NBA players as "very common."

"I would probably say close to 60 percent," he said.

New England Patriots wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, a gun owner himself, said he thinks 90 percent of NFL players have firearms.

"Lots of guys I know have weapons either in their house or, in places where you can carry it, they have a permit to carry it," Gaffney said.

Some athletes own guns for hunting, but most athletes who carry guns do so for self-protection.

..."Athletes are not carrying a gun just to carry a gun and to say, 'Yeah, I carry a gun,'" Williams said. "They are carrying guns to protect and defend themselves."

Williams maintains that the dangers faced by professional athletes are real.

"A lot of criminals, they will look at you like, 'Shoot, let's follow him home. Let's see where he lives. Let's see if we can get him for his jewelry, his watch, his car.' You never know what is out there," Williams said.

As high-profile figures in society, many athletes claim they are targets, citing their wealth and prominence as reasons to be wary.

Of course, some of them are complete idiots with the terminology:

Houston Astros outfielder Luke Scott slammed an ammo clip into his .45-caliber Glock handgun, assumed the ready position and fired off 10 successive shots in 2.5 seconds, causing shell casings to fly in every direction.

"That's a clip," Scott said matter-of-factly as he looked up, emptied the cartridge from his handgun and slid the weapon into his front pocket.

'S OK. So is the reporter.

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