September 03, 2008
We hear all the time about guys who get traded or released, then vow that whenever they play the team that discarded them, they'll exact revenge.
Tatum Bell is one of those revenge-seeking types, but he was thinking outside the box on this one. The Detroit Lions released him, but he didn't want to wait for an on-field opportunity to take out his frustrations. He's a man of action, and he decided to have his revenge immediately ... by allegedly stealing the luggage of the man brought in to replace him.
Rudi Johnson, whom the Lions signed after he was cut by the Bengals, set his luggage down outside of Matt Millen's office while he met with Millen to discuss his role on the team. Bell happened to walk by, he saw Johnson's luggage, and he treated it like a football that he just dropped. He allegedly picked it up, and took it to the house (of a female acquaintance).
But the Lions have security cameras all over the place, they easily reviewed the footage, and idenitfied Bell.
Rudi Johnson has his luggage back, and is opting not to press charges.
An incident like this probably won't help Bell find employment in the future, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that Bell wasn't thinking long-term when he allegedly decided to pounce on someone else's luggage. Most teams (excluding the Bengals, of course) frown on this sort of behavior. They also frown on running backs who are fumbling machines, which is why Bell was just barely clinging to a roster spot to begin with.
Nice work, Bell. You just tarnished your reputation, became a known thief, and made it borderline impossible for you to get another job in the NFL. Or as a skycap.
UPDATE: Tatum Bell vehemently claims complete innocence. He acknowledges that he took the bags, but says he believes that they belonged to another Lion who had been recently cut, who had asked Bell to retrieve his bags for him. Bell claims to have stolen nothing.
Rudi Johnson says that, yes, he has his bags back, but that cash and underwear are missing. He does not believe Bell's story.
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