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Graney: Ruggs’ senseless action was a choice, not a mistake

Updated November 2, 2021 - 9:04 pm

I know it well. Heading to work. Returning from a game. South Rainbow Boulevard and Spring Valley Parkway.

The place where former Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs was involved in a fiery crash Tuesday morning that left one person dead.

The first thing I thought about was speed. We’re not talking your typical straightaway with little chance of encountering other drivers. Not even at 3:40 a.m. Not in our 24-hour town. There are always others on the road.

It. Is. A. Residential. Area.

Think about that.

How fast Ruggs must have been traveling in his Chevrolet Corvette before plowing into the rear of a much less powerful Toyota Rav4 is disturbing enough.

Ruggs’ girlfriend was in the car and, along with the football player, was hospitalized at University Medical Center with survivable injuries. Yes. Even more life could have been lost.

That police say Ruggs was impaired is irresponsible and inexcusable in every conceivable manner should such statements prove true. He is to expected to be formally charged with DUI resulting in death.

Never forget. Someone is dead.

Not about football

So pick your cliche. Forget about football. Or about his future in the game. Or about how much money he will likely never see. Or about how much his absence will hurt the Raiders, who released him Tuesday night.

Pick it and move on. That’s all there is to say about what Ruggs did for a profession.

Not all athletes preach about being role models. That’s fine. Most do. But saying it and representing it are two totally different dynamics. So no matter where Ruggs stands on the subject, his actions fly in the face of what a mentor to others should be.

Understand this: His was a choice and not a mistake. Ruggs is 22 and didn’t have a brain cramp that should excuse his recklessness.

Nothing drives me crazier than when others use the M word when describing such an awful incident. It’s not as if Ruggs ran the wrong route that led to an interception. Not as if he missed a block or took off before the ball was snapped.

He chose to get behind the wheel when reportedly impaired and drive at a high enough rate of speed that someone will never again go home to her family.

I’ll never understand it. When you know that alcohol or other substances might be involved on a particular night out, why not ensure someone does the driving?

That someone you trust (and likely pay) is holding the keys?

A friend said it best Tuesday: The worst decision Ruggs made came not when impaired, but when sober. He could have easily secured safe transportation to and from his destination.

This isn’t any different from other such fatalities. There are still countless questions to be answered. Initial police investigations often change in scope as more and more evidence is collected. Things are hardly ever as straightforward as originally viewed.

Senseless action, Part II

But they are a bit eerie right now. Ruggs has already retained high-profile attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, the same lawyers representing former UNLV basketball recruit Zaon Collins against his own felony DUI charges in which another was killed last Dec. 30.

So make that senseless actions which cost others their lives — Part II — for local athletes in less than a year.

Here it is then: If convicted of such charges, Ruggs could face two-to-20 years in prison, incur thousands of dollars in fines and have his driver’s license suspended for three years.

And for exactly what, again?

Someone is dead.

What football?

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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