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Stairwells and Hospitals: The Davone Bess situation continues to unfold

Bess Mugshot

Bess MugshotThe Davone Bess situation—which it officially is at this stage, a situation—continues to get more bizarre by the hour. What had appeared as a bottoming out, Bess being arrested in a Florida airport for erratic behavior and assaulting a police officer, can now be confirmed as merely being the tip of the wide receiver’s downward spiraling iceberg. Shortly after Bess was released from jail on Friday afternoon, The Miami Herald reported that he was hospitalized against his will just weeks before he was traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Six BSO deputies were needed that night to restrain Bess, who was screaming, “Hide the guns!” “Where is my weed?” and “I want to get in the end zone; throw me the football!” according to the incident report. […]

On that night, BSO was called to Bess’ Cooper City home. When the first deputy arrived, he noted a strong smell of cannabis coming from the master bedroom. The deputy also observed several males trying to restrain an agitated, incoherent Bess, who was trying to throw them off. He started screaming about guns and drugs and football. Efforts by fire rescue to sedate him were unsuccessful.

Finally, a half-dozen cops were able to pin him down. Bess was taken to Memorial East Hospital for observation.

Bess’ mother, Chinell Carpenter, had flown in that day from California after receiving a call that her son was not acting like himself. She said then that Bess had not slept in three days and was going through some serious personal issues.

As WFNY noted earlier this month, prior to the arrest, Bess was brought to Cleveland as a veteran presence to compliment the team’s stable of young wide receivers. Bess’ season with the Browns was troubled out of the gate as the sure-handed slot option would go on to lead the league in drops before being excused for what the team called “personal reasons.” The belief was that Bess’ family, located in a hardscrabble section of Oakland, California, was undergoing some turmoil. Almost immediately after the player was excused, he began posting pictures that depicted a complete change in behavior (including blatant advertisement of his violation of the NFL’s drug policy) from the man who, just years prior, had a life-changing experience in a Costa Rican village.

What many preferred to cast aside as a man merely smoking marijuana—a commonly-used illegal substance, they said—now appears to have substantially deeper roots.

Among the rest of the news pouring out after Bess’ arrest is a report from Cleveland’s Scene Magazine, stating that Bess had an incident in Cleveland before he was excused from the team.

I found out that my partner had tried to go down the stairs and this guy was blocking his way. He asked him what he was doing, got no response, and when he saw the guy had a belt in his hand he started back up. He then heard the guy give a blood curdling scream.

We called 911, but by the time the police came, he was gone. We found out later that a woman had taken him out of the building and driven away. We then found out that it was Davone Bess visiting his psychologist in the building.

The most poignant of quotes to come out following the incident (and subsequent barrage of additional information) comes from former Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano. In a column penned by The Akron Beacon-Journal’s Marla Ridnour, Rutigliano admits that the Miami Dolphins come off looking bad, but once he arrived in Cleveland, Bess’ welfare was the responsibility of the Browns.

On Friday, a source familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to do so, said Bess’s “family issues have turned into medical issues for him.”

Medical professionals might have interpreted Bess’s tweets as cries for help. Rutigliano certainly sees a player who needs assistance and wonders why the Browns didn’t involve Collins, now head of the psychology and psychiatry department at the Cleveland Clinic and a consultant on the NFL’s drug program since 2000.

“I don’t know if Miami knew anything about it and I don’t really care. Maybe we could have helped him and we could have avoided what’s going on,” Rutigliano said by phone Friday from his Waite Hill home. “Obviously what’s going on right now he must have a problem because nobody would throw away what he threw away. He’s still a young guy. He probably could have played another five, six, seven years.”

While we will never know exactly what each team or regional reporters knew regarding the depth of Bess’ troubles (or to what extent these individuals did to get him help), the mosaic is coming together and it’s making each and every party look culpable. What is known, as the Browns are reportedly gearing up to cut ties with Bess on February 3, is that this situation has all of the makings for one that could very well have a tragic ending. We can only hope that the sudden influx of coverage will serve to aid Bess in finding the proper and requisite care. Football should be the least of anyone’s concern.

  • Tron

    Incredible we brought this guy in right after he was released from a mental hospital. Especially when one considers he was meant to be a stabilizing presence! The Dolphins really pulled the wool over our eyes! But still concerning that Banner and co had no knowledge of this (at least we hope).

  • maxfnmloans

    Most importantly, I hope he gets the help he needs.

    That being said, I hear some people are now saying that maybe the Dolphins didn’t even know about the incident in Florida, so it’s not entirely a screw up of mammoth proportions by Lombardi and Banner. All I’d like to ask those people who are trying to push that is “Are you kidding me?!?”

    Just like the Browns have “sources” inside local police forces, I’m sure every other NFL team does as well. It is a matter of praticality for the teams to be well informed of any potential dangerous or criminal behavior their players might be involved in. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either a babe in the woods or willfully ignorant.

    The Dolphins knew. Banner and Lombardi got hosed. I beseech everyone to not buy whatever spin they try and put on this story. Davone Bess needs help. Thats the foremost thing out of all of this. HOWEVA this is an epic failure by the front office, and I hope the media holds their feet to the fire a bit.

  • gbac16

    Couldn’t agree more with you. Having had a young friend go through a similar mental breakdown, I can tell you it is scary. Unfortunately, there is such a stigma attached to mental illness, especially in men, and even more especially in Black men, that it often goes undiagnosed until it is too late.

  • maxfnmloans

    My family knew someone who had a similar breakdown in his late 20’s. He graduated second in his class from Yale, was working on Wall Street, came home one year for Thanksgiving, his parents forgot to send the chauffeur to the airport to get him, and when they found him walking towards their plantation from the rapid, he was gone.

    I used to hear him walking on the estate, and sometimes I’d even hear two distinct voices, then I’d look outside and see him walking alone. Truly frightening. But, on his good days, there wasn’t anyone nice. he used to love to b.s with my grandfather about Westerns.

    It is amazing how little doctors and scientists really know about the brain. At least most of them freely admit it, which is helpful in trying to learn more. I hope your friend is able to make it back.

  • Toddyus

    I feel like I can finally say something about this. The incident quoted above in the stairwell happened in my building (work). It was the same day as the marijuana Twitter photo in December. I came down the stairs to go to lunch and at the bottom of the stairs were a man’s coat, some books, a messenger bag. All this stuff was strewn on the stairs – very bizzare.

    I stepped over the stuff and walked out of the stairwell and immediately to my right was a very well-built black gentleman with dreadlocks and tattoos. He had his back to me, was wearing no shirt (it was in the stairwell), but had a scarf on. He was standing perfectly still; like a mannequin. I don’t believe he knew I was there. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but judging by the quality of his clothes and his build, he was clearly not some stray homeless person. He was someone of means.

    I watched him for a bit trying to figure out what was going on and whether I should call someone. I then heard a woman speaking, presumably on the phone to someone describing the situation. She was on the other side of Bess, so I couldn’t see her. Since someone was addressing the situation, I figured it okay to leave and as I turned, Bess let out this absolutely bone-chilling scream, but did not otherwise move. Needless to say, I continued to my left and walked out the door.

    Looking at this from afar, it’s easy to pass judgment and criticize him. Having seen him in what was clearly a state of something – pain? depression? insanity? drug fugue? – was difficult to witness and I feel terrible for the guy. I truly hope he can flush his demons and return to something of a normal life with or without football.