With Friends Like These...
Chief Tamarick Vanover's name has cropped up in a pal's federal drug case
To the expanding off-field woes of the NFL (page 56), add news of an affidavit filed in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., that links Chiefs kick returner Tamarick Vanover and former running back Bam Morris to an investigation of a "large scale, organized and structured" marijuana and cocaine ring. The affidavit, signed by FBI agent Larry Tongate, was filed on Jan. 25 as part of a drug distribution case against a K.C. man, Gregory Burns. Neither Van-over nor Morris has been charged in connection with the case, but both appear guilty, at least, of tremendously poor judgment. Vanover is mentioned 13 times in the 17-page affidavit, Morris twice.
The document calls Burns a major supplier of marijuana and cocaine in the Kansas City area. In the affidavit, Burns says he's Vanover's "personal assistant" and an employee of a Vanoverowned company called T.V. 87.
The report, however, suggests a more troubling relationship. According to the affidavit:
?In September, Tallahassee, Fla., police recovered a Ford Expedition from a man named Donnell Benson that had been reported stolen from a Kansas City dealership. Benson said he had bought the vehicle from Vanover for $10,000.
?In March 1998, Vanover was with Burns when the latter sold a stolen Lexus to one of Burns's cocaine customers.
?Nicol Mikijanis, an acquaintance of Burns's, provided the FBI with "information regarding the [alleged] drug distribution activities of... Tamarick Vanover and Greg Burns," as well as two others. Based on this information, police staked out Vanover's Leawood, Mo., house. On the evening of April 23, 1999, they saw a blue Expedition in Vanover's driveway that was listed as having been stolen in Dallas two months earlier. When the car, driven by a man named DeWayne Bryant, left Vanover's driveway, cops stopped and searched it and found marijuana residue. Morris was in the passenger seat.
Two weeks ago Burns was charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine. He has, according to the affidavit, "a prior felony conviction for possession of drugs, prior arrests for drugs and a history of noncompliance while on probation." He has pleaded not guilty. Vanover, who isn't talking to reporters, may soon be on a witness stand explaining his relationship with Burns.
Morris's involvement seems more tangential but could be just as dangerous for him. After his promising career was twice derailed by league suspensions for substance abuse, he spent 90 days in a Texas jail in 1998 for violating terms of probation resuiting from a '96 conviction for marijuana possession. At his sentencing, state district judge Sue Pirtle warned Morris that any involvement with drugs or alcohol, violation of the law or not, could land him a 10-year jail term.
When Morris unexpectedly retired from the Chiefs on Jan. 18, he said he was doing so in part because he was tired. Fans buffeted by the latest string of NFL stories might say the same thing.