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Paglia: Mug shots of 'hot shots'

The only thing I haven't seen throughout the barrage of media coverage on former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's complete freedom is his mug shot.

Plenty of photos of Vick in a suit walking to court; Vick in a short-sleeved, plaid, button-up shirt walking out of court; Vick in a plain white t-shirt on the porch of his Newport News, Va., home; Vick playing ping pong with on a Falcons colored table. That's a sike.

What a surprising sight it was to find Michael Vick - the No. 1 draft pick of the 2001 NFL Draft, the first African American quarterback ever taken first overall, the player the Falcons pinpointed and traded draft picks to attain San Diego's No. 1 spot - now looking straight at the lense.

But Vick has hardly been the first prominent sports figure to surprise us with some transgression. In fact, I found a website cataloging mug shots taken of famous sports stars. I found many I already knew of, many that seem surprising with hindsight, many that make perfect sense with hindsight...

Many that surprised me:

n Kirby Puckett, a Hall of Fame outfielder with the Minnesota Twins, was arrested in 2002 and charged with false imprisonment (huh?) and fifth-degree sexual conduct for groping a woman in public. He was acquitted, but I grew up knowing Puckett as the epitome of class on the ballfield. Figured it was the same off.

n Now for a few years of my lifetime I was a fervent Dallas Cowboys fan. That was a household requirement with my stepfather. And this was a good time to be a Cowboys fan, the days of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

Then Irvin had to get stopped for speeding and caught with drug paraphernalia in the back of his car. Irvin always was different than the rest of Dallas' trio. He was the personality of the football triumverate. Hasn't hurt his broadcasting career with ESPN, though.

n Lawrence Taylor, the former Giants defensive end who forever changed the important of the position, was arrested in 1996 for attempted possession of crack cocaine. They caught Taylor in an undercover sting. He never saw it coming. Funny, quarterbacks rarely saw him coming at them.

n What if Andrea the Giant weighed 500 pounds? Doesn't mean he's a brute. He couldn't handle Westley disguised as a pirate in The Princess Bride. But apparently he could handle a cameraman one day during his professional wrestling days. I imagine the photo booth for the mug shot was a bit crowded.

n Apparently, the sport of boxing's greatest (and perhaps last) promotor, Don King, had quite a criminal record pre-1960. In fact, he went to jail for four years on manslaughter charges. His mugshot is of a man with trimmed hair and a surly look in his face. Something clicked eventually. He grew his hair out (understatement alert!). He always had a smile on his face. Oh, and he made milllllllllions of dollars.

Now many that didn't surprise me:

n Former boxing heavyweight champ Mike Tyson was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1992 (he served six), convicted of one charge of rape and two counts of deviate sexual conduct. Then came biting Evander Holyfield's ear. Then came the face tattoo. But then came his role in the recent movie The Hangover, where he apparently is a huge Peter Gabriel fan, enough that it makes him involuntarily knock people out.

n Perhaps the ultimate sports weirdo, NBA forward Dennis Rodman, would be caught drunk driving without a valid drivers license; or would get caught screaming at his then-wife, Carmen Electra. Incredibly, his hair in his mug shot isn't dyed as bright as a neon bar sign.

n Ron Artest equals The Brawl. You know, the time Artest climbed into the stands at Detroit Pistons game and played security guard with fans. Yeah, that's the same guy who has twice been arrested for domestic abuse, with one case still pending.

Brian Paglia is a sportswriter with the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 ext. 253 or bpaglia@news-daily.com.