Skip to main content
Original Issue

Great Pretenders

Beware of "stars" met in bars

JUST BE yourself, we tell our kids, but how much fun is that when you're an unemployed 29-year-old from Asbury Park, N.J.? Luckily Ryan Ward, who fits that description, bears a striking resemblance to Joba Chamberlain, so he found it easy to be a certain Yankees pitcher. Last month Ward (right, with a Chamberlain cutout) was charged with impersonation and theft of services, though the main reason he passed himself off as Chamberlain, he said, was to pick up women. (Ward told the New York Post that he "hooked up" with "over 62" partners this summer while playing Joba.) Meanwhile, Michael Anderson (left, top), 43, of Far Rockaway, N.Y., was allegedly pulling a similar scam, telling strangers he was locked out of his car, then conning them out of money by claiming to be former NBA star Kenny Anderson (left, bottom). (Michael Anderson—no relation to Kenny—was charged with scheming to defraud and identity theft.) Joba and Kenny are just the latest jocks to have their identities swiped.

Steve Karsay, Yankees
Last year New York City police arrested Jonathan Henry, a 42-year-old ex-con who for two years had been passing himself off as the Yankees pitcher to get into restaurants, then running out on the tabs.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
In 2005, Brentwood, Pa., car salesman Brian Jackson (left) fooled a woman he wanted to date into believing he was the Steelers QB (right). After a month she realized he looked nothing like Big Ben. When Jackson was arrested for harrassment, he was found to have pulled the same trick on another woman—only he told her he was fourth-string QB Brian St. Pierre.

Jerame Tuman, Steelers
Last year Jackson, who was sentenced to 30 days for the Pittsburgh QB scams, was given three more months in jail for telling another love interest that he was Tuman, a backup tight end, and scamming her for $3,200.

Danny Wuerffel, Packers
In 2000 the Green Bay backup QB got a call from The Home Depot seeking verification of a $16,000 loan being taken out in New Jersey under his name. There were several signs that it wasn't Wuerffel. His hometown, Destin, Fla., was misspelled on the application—and, unlike Wuerffel, the man filling out the paperwork was black.

Jacquez Green, Buccaneers
For five months in 2001, 26-year-old Tampa resident Chelmer LaJuan Goodson told women he was either Green, a Bucs receiver, or Cedric King, the brother of Tampa Bay QB Shaun King. After scamming his victims for a total of $2,100, Goodson was sentenced to 30 months in prison. "Some people say he looks like me," Green said. "But I don't see the resemblance."

Seeing Green

HE WAS the winningest NFL coach of the 1990s, but when Dennis Green appeared on ESPN's SportsCenter earlier this month, he was every bit the modern beer salesman, seated before a Coors Light backdrop, wearing a Coors Light T-shirt and even interrupting his football analysis to mention the brand's new commercials, which would be premiering during the Giants-Redskins game that night. The latter move was a step too far, even for the network that gave you the Coors Light Cold Hard Facts. "It shouldn't have happened," an ESPN spokesperson says. But Green told SI he doesn't see a problem mixing ads with X's and O's. "Football and beer," he says, "go hand in hand."

For Green, who says he retired permanently from coaching after being fired by the Cardinals two years ago, selling isn't everything; it's the only thing. He has trademarked two phrases from the 2006 postgame tirade featured in his first Coors Light commercial—"They are who we thought they were" and "We let them off the hook"—and has had them emblazoned on caps that he sells on his website. He also offers a DVD, Fishing Across America with Dennis Green (he's a competitive bass angler); a CD of his jazz group, the Sunset Music Band (he plays drums); and various consulting services, from stadium financing to public relations. "CEOs," says Green, who wouldn't reveal their names or companies (citing "confidentiality"), "ask my advice on dealing with salesmen and executives." So does Green, 59, who also calls NFL games for Westwood One radio, miss the sidelines? Says he, "I haven't thought much about coaching."

Go Figure

Goals allowed by Bulgaria in its four games in a women's hockey Olympic qualifying tournament; the Bulgarians lost to Italy (41--0), Latvia (39--0), Slovakia (82--0) and Croatia (30--1).

NHL teams that allowed fewer than 192 last season.

Major leaguers who have driven in 100 runs in each of their first eight seasons: Al Simmons, Ted Williams and the Cardinals' Albert Pujols, who had his 100th RBI of the year last week.

Years since a Division I-A game had ended with a 3--2 score before Auburn beat Mississippi State by that count last Saturday.