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Bucs WR waived after he is jailed

Darnell McDonald, a rookie last year, faces felony charges for battery and burglary.

By ERNEST HOOPER and JOE HUMPHREY

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000


Bucs receiver Darnell McDonald came to camp battling for a roster spot, but a battle he had in downtown Tampa a week before camp apparently ruined his chance of making the team.

photo
[Times photo: Jim Damaske]
Darnell McDonald, who had nine catches for the Bucs last year, was waived Thursday by Tampa Bay.
McDonald, 24, was waived Thursday night after the team learned a warrant would be issued for his arrest. The warrant was issued Friday, and McDonald turned himself at 2:45 p.m. He was released on $5,000 bail less than two hours later, at 4:27 p.m.

The arrest report lists two felony charges: aggravated battery with great bodily harm and burglary of a conveyance. The report said the battery happened 2 a.m. July 14 at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Ashley Street in Tampa but did not elaborate.

Team officials said McDonald may have been involved in a traffic altercation in which he struck another motorist. There are no details about the burglary charge; it may be separate from the battery charge.

Coach Tony Dungy would not elaborate on his reasons for releasing McDonald, the second-year pro out of Kansas State.

"After doing all the research we could do, it was just a gut feeling on my part that he wasn't going to make the team," Dungy said after the team's afternoon joint practice with the Miami Dolphins at the Citrus Bowl. "I just felt this was the time to do it."

Dungy would not elaborate on the decision, but he has indicated in the past that he has an ethics code his team must abide by. The fifth-year coach was asked by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to serve on a panel about off-field behavior at the league's annual meeting in March, and at that time he said the Bucs had a clear set of standards.

"We try to pick players who we don't think have problems, and the second part is trying to educate them on what can go on in Tampa, things to look out for now you're in the NFL," Dungy said. "The third thing is, we try to go over what our policy is and what things will really be frowned upon and what things are going to get you in trouble.

"You can't be totally inflexible, but guys know if certain things happen to you, it's going to jeopardize your chances of being here."

Though general manager Rich McKay did not speak specifically about McDonald, he did address off-field behavior at a luncheon in Orlando on Friday. McKay told a group of businessmen and sponsors that the Bucs want players whose names appear in the sports section, not in the metro news section.

McKay also mentioned several Bucs players with good reputations, including Derrick Brooks, who received The Good Guys Award from the Sporting News Thursday.

McDonald was in a difficult battle to make the team. The Bucs were expected to keep five or six receivers, and it almost is a certainty that three spots will go to All-Pro Keyshawn Johnson, third-year pro Jacquez Green and former first-round draft pick Reidel Anthony.

That left McDonald to compete with coaches favorite and veteran Karl Williams, former practice squad player Drew O'Connor, return specialist Yo Murphy and a host of rookies, led by former Clearwater High standout Chris Daniels.

A seventh-round pick out of Kansas State, the 6-foot-3, 199-pound McDonald played in eight games for the Bucs and had nine receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown. His play was noteworthy for clutch third-down receptions, but coaches and team officials said privately that McDonald's commitment in meetings and at practices was below team standards.

With his departure, the receiver situation becomes a little clearer. Williams likely will earn the fourth spot, and if the team carries six receivers, O'Connor, Murhpy and Daniels will battle for the other two spots.

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