Eagles' Parker arrested on marijuana charge
By Bob Brookover - Inquirer Staff Writer
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Juqua Parker's college dorm room probably looked rather appealing early yesterday morning when he was sitting in a cell at an Easton prison surrounded by razor ribbon and barbed wire.
That's where the Eagles' starting left defensive end landed after being arrested by Lower Saucon Township police for possession of marijuana. Parker, 32, admitted to police that the marijuana belonged to him after a black, retro-style Ford van being driven by teammate Todd Herremans was stopped at 12:33 a.m. at Route 378 and North Mountain Drive in Bethlehem.
"Mr. Parker was in possession of the marijuana," Lower Saucon Township Police Chief Guy Lesser told The Inquirer. "He cooperated and admitted to the officer that it was his."
Parker, police said, was arraigned at the Northampton County Central Booking Center, then taken to the county prison. Court documents showed that he was released at 5:18 a.m., more than four hours after coach Andy Reid's extended 1 a.m. curfew. The documents also showed that the $1,000 bail was posted by Butch Buchanico, the director of team security.
A court date was set for Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Herremans, the Eagles' starting left guard, was stopped for making an illegal left turn and driving without his headlights on, Lesser said. The police chief said Herremans, 26, was cited for both traffic violations and was also given a breath test that registered .05 percent, below the legal limit of .08.
Police said two female passengers, ages 22 and 21, were also in the van.
Parker was not required to be at the Eagles' 8:15 a.m. practice yesterday because all players 30 and over were excused with the exception of quarterback A.J. Feeley. The ninth-year defensive end returned, however, in time for the afternoon practice.
He declined to comment afterward.
Herremans, still wearing his helmet and encircled by his fellow offensive linemen as he left the practice field in the afternoon, also declined comment. Herremans was at both practices.
Eagles coach Andy Reid and owner Jeffrey Lurie also skirted the issue.
"We're aware of the incident on Juqua Parker and, obviously, there is nothing I can comment on at the moment," Reid said.
"I've got to wait and see what the full report is here. I'm not going to judge it until I've got all the information."
Said Lurie: "At this stage, it's completely improper for me to comment on something that we are still gathering information on, and it has to go through a legal process."
It remains to be seen how Reid will deal with Parker's arrest, but the coach clearly was displeased when the defensive end jumped offside during the afternoon practice.
"You got your mind somewhere else?" Reid said sternly. "Get your mind here."
In addition to the legal aspect, Parker will also likely have to face some sort of discipline from the NFL. According to the league's collective-bargaining agreement, "A player will normally be subject to discipline up to and including suspension without pay for four regular and/or postseason games for a first violation of the law related to substances of abuse other than alcohol."
If this is Parker's first offense, he will likely be placed in the league's substance-abuse program, which involves increased drug testing.
Defensive tackle Mike Patterson was the last Eagles player to be charged with marijuana possession, in February 2008, but that charge was later dismissed. Reid also had to deal with a similar situation in November 2001, when rookie safety Terrence Carroll was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana after being stopped on South Street in Philadelphia.
Carroll was released from the team. Running back Correll Buckhalter and cornerback Darrel Crutchfield also were in the car but were not charged. Reid suspended both players for one game. The coach did not suspend Patterson.
Reid said the players were given off from meetings Tuesday night and their curfew was extended from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. The extension came courtesy of a field goal by kicker David Akers at Tuesday morning's practice. Reid offered the two extra hours if Akers made the kick.
"You know what I did with those two hours last night?" Akers said. "Slept."
Juqua Parker's story was a little different.
Hope he doesn't get in too much trouble...