NOTE: BOX; Along the way column
TEMPE – It turns out the only guy who could catch Chuck Levy from behind was Chuck Levy.
And he carried a dagger.
The former University of Arizona football standout has stabbed himself in the back.
He may have killed what should have been a brilliant career in the National Football League.
Levy has been kicked out of the league for a year for substance abuse.
The official NFL statement released yesterday was as brief as Chuck’s stay in the Big Time.
“The NFL (has) announced the suspension of Chuck Levy of the Arizona Cardinals in accordance with the NFL Policy and Program for Drugs of Abuse and Alcohol.’
Levy has been notified that he has been suspended for a minimum of one calendar year. He would need to apply for reinstatement to Commissioner Paul Tagliabue if he wishes to return to the NFL.
Levy is a kid who has it all, and yet he has nothing.
If he was at Sun Devil Stadium for last night’s 31-17 Cardinal loss to the Cleveland Browns in the final game of the exhibition season, nobody saw him.
He has a home up here, and it is reportedly filled – constantly – with friends, relatives, friends of friends, groupies, fans and assorted leeches.
Chuck is an impressionable kid, and it’s not hard to imagine him being talked into trying something he shouldn’t.
Just what poison he chose, and what showed up on the NFL tests – who knows how many times? – nobody is saying. Not the league, not the Cardinals and certainly not Levy.
Wonder if the kick or trip was worth it?
Up front, Levy loses $300,000 in salary this year. As good as he is, he could squander millions if his career is blown.
What he could have done!
Imagine, if you can, being 23 years old and so gifted athletically, that an NFL team lists you as running back, wide receiver, kick returner and quarterback (for two-point conversions).
I have finally found something on which Buddy Ryan and I agree.
After the game last night, Ryan told a bunch of reporters:
“I don’t feel sorry for Levy at all. I feel sorry for Mr. B (Bill Bidwill, team owner) and Chuck’s teammates who believed in him.’
Asked if the team missed Levy, Ryan retorted:
“Hell, we’ve missed him all along – it was you guys (media) who kept him alive. But he came a long way as a receiver since workouts last February.
“Would we like to have him back? Sure we would. We’ve got a lot invested in him. And hopefully he will be back. But that’s up to the NFL now.’
Somebody asked Ryan if, down deep, this was what he expected to happen.
“Yep,’ said the grizzled old coach. “I don’t know what type of drugs were involved. I don’t know anything about that. But, yeah, we’d like to have him back with the Cardinals.’
And if he doesn’t make it back?
“Well, if he doesn’t,’ said Ryan, “I don’t think there’s much hope for him.’
Chuck Levy has gone into the game in tough situations before, and come out a hero.
But this is fourth-and-forever.
We’ll see if the man in him has as much heart as the athlete in him.
* Citizen Sports Columnist Corky Simpson may be reached at 573-4635 (fax 573-4569).
Substance abuse program
Stage 1: requires participation in a rehabilitation and education program.
Stage 2: involves a second violation and may involve a fine of four weeks’ pay or suspension for four regular-season games without pay.
Stage 3: suspension for the minimum of a year.