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Valet Impersonator Steals Redskin's SUV

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 31, 2004; Page D04

Washington Redskins wide receiver Rod Gardner had his SUV stolen early yesterday when he handed the keys over to someone impersonating a valet outside a District nightclub, according to law enforcement officials.

Gardner denied any knowledge of the incident when asked about it before practice at Redskins Park, but law enforcement sources said Gardner filed a report with them.

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Gardner's black GMC Envoy Denali was stolen at 12:10 a.m. outside MCCXXIII, a club at 1223 Connecticut Ave., law enforcement sources said. The car was recovered at 3:30 a.m. in a parking lot at FedEx Field, where the Redskins play their home games, according to Cpl. Debbie Carlson of the Prince George's County police. Several items were stolen from the car, including its tires.

Carlson said a flat-bed tow truck was needed to move the car.

Gardner, 27, denied anything of the sort happened before taking the field for practice, saying he had been confused with someone else who had the same last name. "I don't know where that came from," Gardner said, when asked about the robbery. Gardner said the information was incorrect and that police had confused him with someone named "Derrick Gardner."

However, law enforcement officials said Gardner gave his name to authorities, listed FedEx Field as his address and listed his occupation as a football player.

Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said the team had no comment on the matter. Gardner's agent, Joel Segal, said he was unaware of the incident.

This is not the first time one of Gardner's night-time outings has made the news this season. He threw a birthday party for himself in October, inviting many of his teammates to the Connecticut Avenue club. Rookie safety Sean Taylor was arrested on drunk-driving charges after attending that event, and will go to trial for that charge next week. Taylor's attorney said he plans to call several Redskins who were in attendance to testify that his client was not drunk that evening.

Gardner practiced yesterday and will conclude his season Sunday at FedEx Field when the Redskins host the Minnesota Vikings. Gardner leads the team with five touchdown catches, but has dropped more passes than his coaches would like.

Gardner was drafted by the Redskins with the 15th overall pick in the 2001 from Clemson. He has 50 catches for 641 yards this season.

Staff writers Del Quentin Wilber and Jamie Stockwell contributed to this report.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company