For Terrell Davis, the hits just keep coming. Over the past 18 months the Broncos' congenial star has sustained two severe leg injuries, been subjected to questions about his toughness and surrendered his title as the best running back in the NFL. Now, along with several other prominent athletes, including Patrick Ewing and Jamal Anderson, Davis will be asked to explain the type of behavior that many of his peers take for granted.
Davis is scheduled to testify for the government in U.S. v. Kaplan et al., a federal racketeering case in which the owner of an Atlanta strip club is accused of fraud, money laundering and prostitution. Davis is not charged with any crime. His agent, Neil Schwartz, says Davis was merely "a customer in a place that is legal and licensed. He's single, and he went to a strip club."
Whatever went on at the Gold Club and whatever the nature of Davis's involvement, his association with the case jeopardizes his family-friendly endorsement image. Regarding Davis's prospects as a corporate pitchman, Nova Lanktree, president of Chicago-based Lanktree Sports Celebrity Network, says, "Any company will now proceed with caution, if it proceeds at all."
Notably, Davis recently lost his endorsement contract with Campbell's Soup. Schwartz says, "I believe Campbell's dropped Terrell solely because he hasn't been on the field much the last two years." A Campbell's spokesperson wouldn't comment.
However, an outspoken Campbell -- raunchy rap legend Luke Campbell -- has plenty to say about the Gold Club trial. "Mark Chmura in the hot tub with an underaged babysitter is a scandal; this ain't s---," Campbell says. "People got over the strip-club thing a long time ago."
To what extent that's true is debatable, but Campbell certainly knows plenty about athletes' indiscretions. For graphic examples, check out his website, www.lukerecords.com., on which he sells explicit videos whose raunchier moments depict lesbian sex acts in which spectators ogle and pour beer on the participants. In Luke's Freakshow Vol. 3, Cancun '99 some familiar faces pop up on the tape: Super Bowl MVP Ray Lewis of the Ravens, the late Chiefs star Derrick Thomas and a certain basketball superstar and Nike pitchman who has been heralded as the new face of the NBA. Yo, Vince Carter -- whassup!
The degrading spectacle of the Freakshow videos would be hard to top even at the Gold Club. But while Carter's association with raunchy sex has slid under the radar, for Davis and his fellow strip-club patrons, the trip to the witness stand looms as a big headache.
Issue date: June 4, 2001
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