Arrington Injured in Motorcycle Accident

LaVar Arrington
LaVar Arrington, a Pittsburgh native, maintains a home in Annapolis and said repeatedly over the years that he would make this area his home even after his playing days concluded. (Toni L. Sandys - The Washington Post)
By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Former Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington broke his arm and his leg in a motorcycle accident yesterday afternoon in Prince George's County, but did not suffer any life-threatening injuries and is in stable condition, according to his agent, Carl Poston. Arrington was cited by Maryland State Police for failing to have a license endorsement to operate a motorcycle and failure to control speed to avoid a collision.

"He's stable, he's talking, he's going to be okay," Poston said from his cellphone after speaking to family members by Arrington's side in Prince George's Hospital Center. "But he's not going to be playing football for a while. He's in with his family, but I don't know exactly what happened with the accident. The good thing is he's going to be fine. But it's going to take him some time to heal."

The single-vehicle accident, which effectively could end Arrington's playing career, occurred on the ramp leading from westbound Route 50 to the Capital Beltway, according to police, who issued a news release with details of the incident. Arrington crashed his motorcycle around 1 p.m. and was taken by ambulance to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he is expected to be kept overnight for observation, according to sources who have talked to his family. No one else was injured in the crash.

A preliminary investigation revealed that Arrington lost control of his 2007 Kawasaki ZX-14 motorcycle when it traveled onto the gravel along the shoulder of the road. Arrington and the vehicle struck a guardrail and ended up on the left side of the road. Arrington was wearing a helmet -- which is required by law in Maryland -- and alcohol was not involved, according to police. The speed limit at the scene was 55 mph; Arrington's actual speed has not been determined. He faces fines of less than $500 total for his citations and three points for each citation.

"We learned this afternoon that LaVar was involved in an accident," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said in a statement. "We hope he makes a full and speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with LaVar and his family during this difficult time."

Arrington, who will turn 29 tomorrow, and the Redskins parted ways in March 2006 after six seasons. After a lengthy series of negotiations, the team and Arrington reached an agreement to allow the former Pro Bowl linebacker to become a free agent. Arrington, a Pittsburgh native, lives in Annapolis and has said repeatedly that he would make this area his home after his playing days. His parents live near his Annapolis home as well.

Arrington was once the face of the Redskins, becoming the most popular athlete in this area shortly after being selected second overall in the 2000 draft. But his tenure with the franchise had soured by 2004, when he aggravated what was originally believed to be a minor knee injury and ended up missing almost the entire season. A three-time Pro Bowler, he was benched for much of the 2005 season, and by then his relationship with owner Daniel Snyder had dissolved, with the sides at odds over a $6.5-million bonus he said the team failed to include in the final version of the contract extension he signed in December 2003. Arrington clashed with the organization over the handling of various injuries as well, and criticized coaches and trainers.

After forfeiting $4.4 million in deferred bonus payments in exchange for his release, Arrington signed with the New York Giants in the spring of 2006 and played in six games before rupturing his Achilles' tendon on Oct. 23. The Giants released him after the season. Arrington was in the process of rehabilitating the injury and mulling career options, and several people close to him have said they believed the former star was seriously considering retirement even before the accident. His agents said that Arrington likely would not have been able to pass a physical until July or August, but Poston said Arrington was making strides recently in his recovery.

"His rehab was going well, but obviously this puts that on the back burner now," Poston said. "He's going to need a lot of time. I just hope it's not the same leg that he tore his tendon."

Regardless, there was likely to be lukewarm interest in Arrington, who last played a full healthy season in 2003, and multiple NFL executives said they did not envision Arrington getting much guaranteed signing bonus money or a lucrative contract offer even before the accident.

Several people close to Arrington said they were unaware that he even had a motorcycle before hearing about the accident, including Poston, who exchanged Father's Day wishes with him Sunday. This crash comes almost exactly a year after Pittsburgh's Super Bowl winning quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, nearly died in a motorcycle accident. And Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow, a top draft pick, missed all of the 2005 season after an offseason motorcycle accident. Many NFL contracts now have clauses that forbid motorcycle riding.

Arrington is opening a sports bar called "The Sideline" in Prince George's County, and a recruitment fair is scheduled for the Greenbelt Marriott on Thursday and Friday. Poston said he was not sure if Arrington was in the area of the crash on restaurant business. Arrington's wife, Trish, gave birth to twins -- a boy and a girl -- last month (the couple's first child, Marlee, is 1 1/2 ). The linebacker remains close to several former teammates and visited Redskins Park a few weeks ago to chat with players and team employees.

"I played with LaVar for four years, and he'll always be my teammate," said Redskins defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn, who planned to visit Arrington in the hospital last night. "That's how I think of him, and I know a lot of others guys here do, too. We care about his well-being and even when he was with New York we wanted to see him do well. We're all big cheerleaders for LaVar, and we'll continue to hope and pray that everything works out."

Staff writer Candace Rondeaux contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company