Miami Trouble can find even the most disciplined in Miami. Every vice, for a price, is available. Sex. Drugs. Late-night parties.
In the past, Miami has claimed more than one NFL player during Super Bowl week. Eugene Robinson and Stanley Wilson set the standard for egregious, costly behavior on the eve of a Super Bowl, and no one - neither the league nor the teams nor the players involved in Super Bowl XLI - wants a new incident on the police blotter this week.
It's Super Bowl week. Do you know where your players are?
In part because they didn't want to disrupt their normal routine and possibly in part to avoid the perils of this sexy city, the Indianapolis Colts did not arrive in Miami until Monday night, more than 24 hours after their opponents, the Chicago Bears, rolled into town. The two coaches, Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, are former colleagues and dear friends and have taken a similar approach to minimizing distractions.
Neither team is staying at or near a Miami beach. Chicago is at the Miami airport and Indianapolis is in relatively sedate Fort Lauderdale, nearly an hour away from South Beach.
Not that any of the Super Bowl participants will be there - or should be there. Smith and Dungy each instituted curfews for their players. The Bears must be tucked in by midnight, the Colts by 1 a.m.
Neither coach anticipates a problem.
"We haven't talked a whole, whole lot about that," Dungy said. "We've really talked more in terms of what we want to accomplish. We've talked about our jobs. We've talked about representing the city of Indianapolis. We've talked about preparing ourselves for a football game.
"I think if we have those things in mind, we really won't have to worry too much about temptations. We did talk about some of the things that have happened to other guys during the week of the Super Bowl, but that's stuff that we talk about all the time. I have a lot of faith in our guys. I think they're going to come down here and really focus in and dial in on winning the ball game."
Said Smith: "We have real men who know what is at stake. They know if one guy takes the wrong turn, we will all hear about it. We are going to police each other a little bit, but at the same time, we don't have boot camp and we are not going to make them be in their rooms at 8 o'clock. We are going to enjoy Miami but know there is work to be done and go from there."
After arriving in Miami on Sunday afternoon, the Bears had the rest of the day and evening to themselves. Adewale Ogunleye knows Miami well; he lives here in the off-season and spent his first four seasons in the league playing for the Dolphins. Ogunleye said he arranged a little soiree - "for the single guys," he said - on Sunday night, but now it's all business.
"We hung out, you know," Ogunleye said. "That was the only night that we're going to be able to do that."
Said Bears cornerback Nathan Vasher: "We do have our down time. We can hang out a little bit. But we know this is a business trip and the most important thing at hand is to win the ball game."
Sometimes the best intentions are overrun by naughty temptations. Just ask Robinson and Wilson.
Robinson was with the Atlanta Falcons in 1999, the last time the Super Bowl was in Miami. On the eve of the game against the Denver Broncos, Robinson sat poolside with his wife and son after the NFL honored him that morning for being an upstanding citizen. A starting safety, Robinson was a leader of the Falcons' defense, a spark plug and emotional center.
But at 9 o'clock that Saturday night, he drove down Biscayne Boulevard in what was then a rough section of downtown, looking for a little love. He was arrested on sex-solicitation charges after asking an undercover police officer for oral sex.
Robinson played in the game as the Falcons lost to the Broncos the next day, 34-19.
Throughout his brief NFL career, Stanley Wilson struggled with cocaine addiction, but in the 1988 season, getting tested three times a week, he remained clean.
On the eve of Super Bowl XXIII in Miami, Wilson headed to the Cincinnati Bengals' final meeting for their game against San Francisco. En route, he stopped, told a teammate he had forgotten his playbook, and went back to his hotel room and snorted cocaine.
One of the Bengals found Wilson, and a team administrator shuttled him to another hotel. Wilson sneaked out and took a cab to the same Biscayne Boulevard where Robinson was arrested 10 years later.
According to Wilson's later account in Penthouse magazine, he bought liquor and more cocaine, and checked into a motel. He did not resurface until the day after the Bengals lost to the 49ers, 20-16. Wilson never played again.
The perils of Miami. Let the Colts and Bears be forewarned.