Jaguars players skip out on $64,000 bar tab in London, report says
These are not the kind of headlines the NFL wanted to make when it decided to play games in London:
Four Jacksonville Jaguars stars arrested by cops at 4 a.m. after “nightclub brawl over £50,000 bar bill.”
So blared The Sun newspaper in London on Sunday morning, and other media outlets soon followed.
£50,000, in case you’re not up on your pound-to-dollar currency exchange, is $64,170.
That’s quite a night out, even if you have a fat NFL wallet.
Being a British tabloid, keep in mind that The Sun might overly dramatize events. The four players -- safeties Barry Church, Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson, and cornerback D.J. Hayden -- aren’t exactly “stars.”
But they are unquestionably representatives of the NFL in general and Jacksonville in particular. So it’s safe to assume Jaguars owner Shad Khan isn’t exactly pleased with his team’s off-field performance in London, where the Jags lost to the Eagles on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.
As to what actually transpired, The Sun reported the four players “squared up to bouncers” Friday night at the London Reign Showclub.
That’s a private nightclub that features burlesque, circus performers and, apparently, bouncers who don’t let patrons traipse out without paying their bar tabs.
“It was the West End equivalent of King Kong meeting Godzilla,” a source told The Sun.
The NFL Network reported the players were sent bottles of champagne and other pricey drinks. They believed the booze was comped, but it was not. When the bill arrived they refused to pay.
“Some of the lads tried to leave the club but were prevented from doing so by security,” the source told The Sun. “Things got pretty heated and there was a lot of swearing and shouting and things became physical.
“In terms of preparation for their match, you couldn’t think of anything worse.”
Jacksonville hoped going overseas for a “match” might change the downward trajectory of the season. The Jaguars went in with three-match losing streak.
So Saturday’s preparation for much of the defensive backfield consisted of spending nine hours in custody, The Sun reported. They were not charged with any crimes.
“Officer attended and spoke with a group of males who had allegedly been attempting to leave the venue without paying a large bill,” a Metropolitan Police spokesman told the BBC. “Four men aged in their twenties were subsequently arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation and taken to a central London police station for questioning. They were all subsequently released with no further action.”
The Jaguars released a statement that said, “We are aware that four of our players were detained over restitution of a bill. The matter is being resolved and the players are with the team. Any discipline will be handled internally.”
At best, it all seems like an embarrassing misunderstanding. At worst, it was an attempted drink-and-dash that turned international incident.
Either way, it’s enough to make Roger Goodell want to order a stiff drink.