Steelers' Santonio Holmes sidelined by marijuana charge
October 25, 2008 4:00 AM
Peter Diana / Post-Gazette
Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes seen here the second day of Training Camp at St Vincent College.
By Jonathan D. Silver and Gerry Dulac Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes, who has been dogged by a variety of legal troubles in recent years, will not play in tomorrow's home game against the New York Giants because of his latest scrape with the law.
Pittsburgh police on Thursday afternoon pulled over Mr. Holmes' sport utility vehicle near Mellon Arena and found three marijuana-filled cigars.
Mr. Holmes told the officers that he had smoked marijuana in the vehicle the day before, according to a police affidavit.
Officers charged Mr. Holmes, 24, of Ohio Township, with a misdemeanor count of prohibited acts, in this case having a small amount of marijuana. Mr. Holmes did not seem impaired, so officers let him go. They are charging him through the mail by summons.
Coach Mike Tomlin yesterday said Mr. Holmes, a third-year receiver who is second on the team with 22 catches and 360 yards receiving, will be listed as inactive for the game.
He declined to say if Mr. Holmes had been suspended by the team or docked a game's pay.
"At this point we've chosen to name him as inactive," Mr. Tomlin said after yesterday's practice, which Mr. Holmes did not attend. "His situation has created somewhat of a distraction and we want to minimize that as much as we can and remain focused on the task at hand."
Mr. Tomlin met with Mr. Holmes earlier yesterday and told him he will not be allowed on the sidelines at Heinz Field and to report back to work Monday.
Mr. Holmes will be replaced in the starting lineup by Nate Washington, who has touchdown catches of 48 and 50 yards the past two games.
Mr. Holmes spoke briefly at his front door with a reporter and declined comment.
"It's unfortunate that the situation happened like that," receiver Hines Ward said. "We as a team have to move on. Coach Tomlin dealt with this issue. For us, we've got to play the New York Giants."
An NFL spokesman said the matter is being reviewed under the league's substance abuse policy.
Police stopped Mr. Holmes after being told at a 3 p.m. roll call that a late-model SUV with an out-of-state license plate might be driving through the Hill District with a "large amount of narcotics." The information pertained to an ongoing investigation.
An hour later, officers Thomas Gorecki and John Kusenko pulled over Mr. Holmes' black SUV with Florida license plates for an "investigatory stop" at Centre Avenue and Mario Lemieux Place because it matched the general description from roll call.
Zone 2 Cmdr. George Trosky said neither Mr. Holmes nor his vehicle were related to the narcotics investigation.
"It's completely unrelated," Cmdr. Trosky said. "You know what, it was just his bad luck."
Mr. Holmes did not have his driver's license but handed over his registration and insurance paperwork. Officers said they smelled marijuana in the SUV. Officer Kusenko asked Mr. Holmes if he had been smoking marijuana in the SUV that day.
"No," Mr. Holmes told officers, according to the affidavit, "but yesterday I was."
Police said Mr. Holmes told them he had marijuana in the vehicle. He pointed out two marijuana-filled cigars, known as "blunts," in a vehicle compartment. Officers recovered a third blunt from a pack of cigars in the center console.
In June 2006, Mr. Holmes was arrested in Ohio on domestic violence charges, which were later dismissed after the judge was assured by Mr. Holmes' lawyers that their client was participating in ongoing counseling offered through the NFL.
Mr. Holmes also was arrested in Miami Beach, Fla., for disorderly conduct during a Memorial Day weekend crackdown by local authorities in 2006. That charge was later dropped in exchange for a $250 donation to the Police Officers Assistance Trust Fund.