YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Questions Remain Regarding White's Arrest

August 23, 1987|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writer

Running back Charles White was resting comfortably, and privately, under a doctor's care Saturday and will remain there until the Rams can answer questions concerning his arrest and booking Friday on misdemeanor charges of being under the influence of a controlled substance.

"He's OK," said Ram Coach John Robinson, who spoke with White Friday. "He's regaining his faculties. We're in the process of determining the circumstances as to what really happened."

White, on Friday, was found on a street corner in Brea in an incoherent state, police said. He was screaming and carrying a trash can lid. Police, after receiving several phone calls, confronted White, who was taken by paramedics to St. Jude Hospital and later booked.

On Saturday, Robinson was concerned with protecting White's procedural rights under the National Football League's Alcohol and Drug Program until more facts have been gathered.

Robinson said he will release information as it becomes available.

The team plans to contact the NFL on Monday to discuss the issue.

It is not yet known what substance White was allegedly using, though the former Heisman Trophy winner had a problem with cocaine.

It is not known why or how White ended up on the Brea street corner.

Barbara Robinson, the Rams' director of administration, received a call about White from the Brea Police Department at 1:30 p.m. She called team trainer Jim Anderson, who informed John Robinson and Jack Faulkner, the team's director of football operations. Anderson met White at St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton.

Robinson said White tested negative for drugs during the team's random test Aug. 6.

"We're obviously interested in knowing if this was a one-time episode or if he is facing a reoccurring problem," Robinson said. "That information is not available."

White, while with the Cleveland Browns, entered a monthlong program for cocaine abuse in July 1982.

"Charlie has said that once you have a problem, it stays with you the rest of your life," Robinson said. "He's spent five years in that fight and he's obviously had a terrible setback."

Robinson met Saturday with the team to discuss White and to readdress the team's drug policy.

"We have a responsibility to make sure this team is free of drugs and we try to exercise that vigorously," Robinson said. "I think most players are aware now how destructive it is, how frightening it is. Charlie, probably more than anybody, is aware of the tragic circumstances involved."

So what's next for White?

According to the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, if a player has a history of drug use, or if a team doctor thinks circumstances warrant further drug testing, the player can be sent to an outside facility.

If the tests are positive, the player must enter a rehabilitation program, the costs of which are covered by the player's NFL insurance.

If White were to enter a rehabilitation program, he would not occupy a spot on the team's active roster. White, as of Saturday, is still on the roster, Robinson said.

"The whole thing is designed for the player to cure his problem, " Dick Berthelsen, legal counsel for the NFL Players Assn., said Saturday. "The question is what can be done for the player or what can be done to him by the commissioner."

While Berthelsen wasn't sure of the answer, he added that "the commissioner's office has shown a real inclination to discipline players, especially if criminal charges are involved. I wouldn't doubt if (Commissioner Pete) Rozelle wouldn't get into the act."

For now, Robinson says he is more concerned with White's health. Robinson coached White while at USC and was instrumental in signing him as a free agent in 1985 at a time when White's problems with drugs left him seemingly unemployable.

The two have developed a bond.

"I think it's a tragedy when it happens to one of your teammates, one of your family," Robinson said. "It's a tragedy to us all. We all feel it. It's very sad that it happened. He's a popular, very strong member of our team."

Times staff writer Gene Wojciechowski contributed to this story.

Los Angeles Times Articles