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By GREG AUMAN
Published July 20, 2004
Former Bucs receiver Marquise Walker, the first draft choice of the Jon Gruden era, was arrested in Tampa early Sunday morning on a charge of driving under the influence with property damage or personal injury.
Walker, 25, who is under contract with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol at 3:09 a.m.. According to the arrest report, he was traveling north on Interstate 275 near Dale Mabry when he rear-ended a 1997 Mazda, then drove onto the shoulder and collided with two trees.
Rick Menendez Jr., 20, of Tampa, who was driving the Mazda, and his girlfriend, Yvonne Cruz, 27, a passenger, were taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and treated for minor injuries. Both were released Sunday.
According to police reports, tests showed Walker's blood-alcohol level to be .179 and .183 percent, more than double the legal threshold of .08 percent at which the state deems a driver unable to safely drive. The police reports estimated $10,000 in damage to the 2004 Chevy sports utility vehicle Walker was renting, and the accident totaled the 1997 Mazda Coupe driven by Menendez.
Walker was selected out of Michigan in the third round of the 2002 draft, the Bucs' first pick that season. He did not catch a pass his rookie season and was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, who cut him during the 2003 preseason. He did not play last season and was signed by the Patriots to a one-year contract at the league minimum of $305,000.
A Patriots spokeswoman said the team was aware of Walker's arrest but had no comment. Walker could not be reached and his agent, Fletcher Smith, did not return a call seeking comment.
[Last modified July 19, 2004, 23:49:16]