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  1. #1
    RamsFan16 Guest

    I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    Courtesy of ESPN The Magazine

    Two-Man Street
    A Death in the family has Leonard Little trying to make sense of his life. Again
    By Seth Wickersham

    Tonights honoree is hiding behind a tree. He stands in the chill fall darkness in his best suit.--a beautiful brown suit, a rich man's suit-- atop a hill that eases down to a high school football field. Some of the 3,000 people in the stands are here to watch his No.30 be retired at halftime soon to wach there Asheville (N.C.) High Cougars whip the North Buncombe Black Hawks. The honoree visited with the Cougars before they burst onto the field, telling them about his own life at Asheville, now 12 years gone, about how they could cherish their high school years, about the value of innocence.

    Tonights honoree isn't innocent anymore. Each morning and night, he begs and prays for forgiveness. And the forgiveness he seeks has him tucked behind a blue spruce, watching, waiting, wondering. Scared to death.

    HE WAS quiet, at first, because he was in shock. It was Oct. 20, 1998. Leonrad Litte was in Harriman, Tenn., at the home of his mother, Wanda, in her windowless basement, the TV sitting cold. It wasn't clear who he was now, not after what happened the night before. He wasn't the boy nicknamed Head, the locla star who had overcome poverty and an absentee dad and the temptation of easy street money. He wasn't the linebacker who, with Peyton Manning, co-captained the Volunteers and then earned a special-teams spot with the St. LOuis Rams. Now he was something ugly. He spent a few days in that basement before someone knocked at the door, a man in his 40s with sandy hair and a warm smile.

    John Berble's arrival was a suprise. They'd met at Tennessee years earlier, and Berble was a psychologist and finincial adviser for several former Vols. Everyone around Knoxville knew him as Dr. John, but Little hadn't talked to him in months. They went upstairs to the family oom, and Dr. John asked, "What Happened?"

    What happened was this: Little showed up at the Adam's Mark hotel in downtown St. Louis for a suprise party--his. It was Oct. 19, his 24th birthday. Over the next four hours he drank until his blood alchohol level hit .19, nearly twice the legal limit. THen at 10:45 p.m. he hopped into his new Navigator, ran a red light at Memorial and Market and broadsideda blue Thunderbird. The driver, 47-year-old Susan Gutweiler, was headed to pick up her 15-yea-old so, Michael, at a Rob Zombie concert.

    Little looked up at Dr. John, his stare empty, his voice low and flat, and said, "Someone died."

    LEONARD LITTLE knows death. It's not that he's morbid or scary or deranged. In fact, he's quiet and shy and sincere, with long, baleen eyelashes that shadow a face hardened by the fallout of disgrace.

    But Little knows about forgiveness, too. He forives those in St. Louis who boo him and the protesters who campaigned against him. Most of all, he forgives the 17-year-old girl who allegedly pulled the trigger and brought death back into his life. Little forgives everyone. Except himself.

    On a Friday in November 2005, Little sits in another basement, ths one in his St. Louis condo. He's 31 now. He looks straight at you, but pauses when his eyes fill up. Little has never spoken at lenght about the events of Oct. 19, 1998, or the days, months, and years what followed. Why now? For the answer, Little takes you bakc in few eeks, to when the Rams were blown out by the Colts on Monday Night Football. After the game, he's in the locker room, still in uniform, when defensive line coach Bill Kollar says, "I want to talk to you." LIttle hasn't seen the text messages from Dr. John-- "Don't check voice mail,""Call Right away"-- so he figures they'll be on him about the game. Okay, just cuss me out, he thinks. I'll be better nextweek.

    Larry Marmie and Dan Linza, the Rams defensive coordinator and security director, are waiting in an office. They tell Little so sit. Linza dials a number, then hands over the phone. It's Little's mother. Her voice is dry . She is sniffling. All she says is "Jermaine." Little drops to the floor, hands gripping his head. The phone lies close enough to his ears that he can make out two words:
    "Shot" and "killed."

    AFTER THE wreck, they'd sit in the living room every Tuesday and Thursday, and Little would start each session by telling Dr. John that he had so much to say. But then he'd mumble that he didn't know what he felt, flopping from sorry to devastated to lost and scared. Sometimes he'd talk about the St. Louis media. But he'd never talk about Oct. 19. "I just didn't want to," Little says now. "You think of a thousand things. What if I did this, what if I did that. But the realizationis you did what you did. And I made a mistake."

    On Oct. 28 Little was charged with involuntary manslaughter for Gutweiler's death. Columnists flayed the rich jock who'd gotten loaded, jumped into his $45,000 SUV and killed someone's mom. Today, Little says, "You might as well say that it was on purpose, because I Made the consious decision to do what I did." Seven years ago, though, he swore to Dr. John that it was an accident, taht he was a good person who'd made a mistake. When Dr. JOhn left him alone in the basement, LIttle wanted to punch those writers. But twhen you'r responsible for a death, are you allowed to be angry?

    A few weeks into their sessions, Dr. JOhn started taking Little to the gym. They'd do sets of benches, curls, squats. One day, Dr. John led Little to the racquetball court and pulled out a pair of boxing gloves.

    "LL, put these on."
    "What are you doing?"
    You've got to get this stuff off your chest."
    "I"ll hurt you."
    Don't worry about that."

    Dr. John put on sparring gloves and flipped his palms toward Little. Taped to the gloves where headlines from St. Louis and Asheville papers, columnist pictures included. Little's eyes opened, then narrowed. Gloves still unlaced, he broke: punching, spitting, puffing, an swinging, for revenge, for relief ...

    "All this is going to defeat you, Leonard!" Dr. John yelled. "You hear me? You can't overcome it!" ... teeth clenched, veins swelling, jaw and neck straining ... "You can't win! You won't beat this!" ... Wheezing, moaning, breath after breath ... "You can't ..." ... Until he hit Dr. Drohn in the chest, knocking him down. Little fell to his hands and knees, his face damp with sweat and tears.

    WHY JERMAINE? LIttle wondered. His younger brother had left Leonard a voice mail just a few days before, signing off the way he always did: "I love you." Jermaine Little was a little Leonard, same bulky build, same quicky feet, same drawl. When he paleyd youth football, Jermaine once ware Leonard's old jersey under his own. Leonrad wore No. 1 at Tennessee, so Jermaine Wore No 2. When Jermaine gave up on schoool and football, ropping out of Coffeyville CC in Kansas, he told LeonardL: "I live my life through you."

    Jermain was about to leave a friend's house last Oct. 17, to watch the Monday Night game, when a dispute broke out over $500. A gun was pulled and Jermain's life waws over, just like that. Five hundred bucks? Leonard is a millionaire. Why didn't Jermaine just call?

    At 7 a.m. the next day, Little boarded the first flightfrom St. Louis to Charlotte, where Wanda now lives. He told himself he had to deal with Jermaine's death on his own, like a man, and so the voice mails--from Dick Vermeil, Mike Martz, Joe Vitt, Larry Marmie, from his old coaches at Tennessee, from Dr. John-- piled up, unheard. Before the funeral, Little approached the casket and wrapped his arms around it. He held it, then backed away. "I can't do this," he said to no one in particular. THen, he was suddenly in his BMW, out of Asheville, traversing the Blue Ridge Mountains until he found a roack that would be his perch for the next few hours. Finally he returned to his hotel room, where there were sleeping pills, and he drifted off.

    The following day, Little picked up a story about Jermain's death. Jermaine, 24 was shot once in the side ... A 17-year-old girl was taken into custody, and ... wait: In 1999, Leonard Little pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in death of Susan Gutweiler, 47, of suburban St. Louis, following a downtown crash.

    Do'nt do that, he thought, Don't connect my brother with what I did. He didn't drive that car. Don't write that Jermaine and Susan are linked. What were they saing, that this was payback?

    "Dr. John," he said into the phonea little later, " I just dont know fi I can take this again."

    THERE WAS a day after the wreck, not long after Leonard collapsed with his boxing glvoes on, when he and Dr. John went back ito the racquetball court. THere were no glvoes this time, just three chairs facing each other on the hardwood. Little sat in one and Dr. John took another. Then he pointed to the third. "Leonard, that's the Gutweiler family. What do you have say?"

    Little's breath deepend. He thought about how he could have taken a cab, how the impact sounded, how a husband no longer had a wife and a son no longer had a mother. Then the sniffling started and tears sped down his face. Four ... five ... six minutes of silence. Then, finally: "I'm sorry. I wish I could bring her back. I never, I never, ever meant to hurt anybody. I'm sorry."

    Little said that he wanted to be a better Christion, that he wanted to prevent drunk driving, that he wanted to talk to the Gutweilers for real.

    But he never got closer than that empty chair. He didn't call the Gutweilders in June 1999 after he was asentenced to 90 days in jail, four years' probation and 1,000 hours of community service. On that day, Bill Gutweiler scremed in court that Little's sentence "should at least reflect the misery and loss his conduct has caused us" and not be "a temporary inconvenience to his work schedule."


    He didn't call lthe Gutweilers after a Mothers Agaisnt Drunk Driving meeting in which he said: "MY name is Leonard Little, and I made a mista--"

    "No," said Michael Boland, rpresident of MADD's St. LOuis chapter at the time. "You've made a choice, not a mistake. You've made a choice that took a person's life."

    He didn't call them after hte protests outside the Trans World Dome during his firrst game back, protets Little understood. "What I did was wrong," he told reporters.

    And he didn't call as the years passed, when St. Louisans began to see him less a killer and more as a great defensive end, whoese No. 91 jersey hung in stores, whose signature was on a $17.5 million contract, whose name was on the Pro Bowl roster.

    Little wen tto high schools to tell coaster-eyed kids about "the dumbest stupidest decision" in his life. He accepted the key to the city of Wellston, a St. Louis suburgb, for the reading program he founded and helped fund. Net month, he will receive the Ed Block award, given to the NFL players by their peers to recognize sportsmanship and courage. And he found a life of his own in the years since he took Susan Gutweiler's.

    Today, Little has a 7-year-old daughter whose paintings are tacked to his living room walls. He doesn't celebrate his birthday and doubts he ever will. He welcomes you to hold Susan Gutweiler's death against him because, he says, "I'll never let it go. If you are a person respnosible for someone not being on this earth, its going to be with you a very long time."

    As he sits in his living room, talking about lives lost, it starts again: the choppy breathing, the eyes watering, the pauses. He reiterates that he realizes what he did and that he's paid his debt:"There's nothing you can do to bring back a loved one." That's waht Dr. John said when Little called, wondering if his actions in October 1998 had caused Jermaine's death.

    "No," Dr. John said. "They're seperate."
    Little would like to believe so, but when he thinks about Jermaien, he thinks about the Gutwielers. He wishes he'd rached out to the m in 1998. Dr. John wishes the same. But Little says he didn't know what to say, or if it would help them. So he stayed silent, and more than seven years have passed. If the Guteilers sat before him today, he's still unsure of what he'd say. He might talk to them abotu hwo "I was young and stupid and I'm very, very sorry" But he wonders. "Waht would the girl who's accused of shooting and killing my brother say to me?" he says. "I don't know. I mean, I really don't care, because I already forgave her. As hard as it was for me not to talk to my brother again, not to see him again, I still had to forgive her. If I didn't, how can I say I believe in god?"

    NOW HE knows how it feels. That's what Bill Gutwielr says he thought when he read that Little's brother was murdered. He sits in a St. Louis restaurant, where he orders a salmon salad and the waiter says, "Oh, the usual." Gutweiler is 60, with frail, bony shoulders and glasses that maginify his brown eyes. He holds a frame picture of a tanned, pretty woman smiling beneth a swarm of spiral brown hair as she holds her toddler son. He wants you to know Leonard Little wasn't the only one whose life changed on that October night. Gutweilder needed sleep medication too. He wsaw a shrink too. He wanted to know how God could allow this too. He wondered if he was cursed too. He wanted to lash out too, dreaming of punching, spitting and swninging at Little. Bull had known Sue since she was 13 and he was 18; they elpod three years later and wer married 31 years.

    Gutweiler stares off into his Oct. 18. He and Sue watched a Seinfeld rerun, he dozed off and she left to pick up Michael at the American Theater. It was an easy drive from there suburban home: Highway 55 into downtown; cross market and your there.

    The phone rang. It was the poice, saying Michaw was waiting outside the theater. Was anyone coming to pick him up? Bill leaped out of bed and rushed dontown. He saw the flashing red liights reflecting off the Arch, off the buildings. And then, a Thunderbird. He pulled over and hopped the yellow team, screaming, "That's my wifes car!" Susan already has been taken to the hospital the sergeant said. Bill was back in his care, turning the wrong way down one-way streets, heading torward St. Louis UNiversity Hospital ... Micael! He'd forgotten to pick him up.

    The next day at noon, when a group of doctors appeared, no one needed to tell Bill his wife was gone. When a car killed his 7-year-old daughter, Jill in 1980, a gropu of doctors appeared. He knew.

    Pickup at his salad, Gutweiler's hands start to shake, but his eyes stay dry. He doesn't cry when he talks about driving from the Adam's Mark valet lot to the spot where Little hit Susan, just to feel what it's like to fly through Market and Memorial at 46 mph, the speed police estimatesd Little was going. He doesn't cry when he talks about how his freelance photography jobs took him to Rams games, sometimes within feet of Little., and how once home he'd delete every shot containing a blue-and-gold No. 91 jersey. He doesn't cry even when he talks about how he went back on antidepressents in April 2004, after Little was charged with a second DUI. Never mind that on a tape recordings of the sobriety tests, Little sounded coherent and clear, or that Little was acquitted by 2 St. Louis-area jurors who knew about Susa. In Gutweiler's mind, Little was guilty. Again.

    Little wants forgivnesss? KEep praying, crying, donating, whatever. "I don't think I'll ever be qite right," Gutweiler says. "Waht did I do to be so slucky to have all these people in the first place, and why was I so unlucky as to lose them?"

    He looks down. "I think this is because of his brother getting killed. He obviously didn't feel this way all these years. So maybe this is a change of heart. Maybe he really knows what it's like. Maybe him and his brother were really close. I do'nt know."

    Gutweiler drops his fork, and the waiter takes away the salad, half eaten.

    HE EMERGES from behind the tree. Alone he walks down the hill toward the Asheville High Sideline. A man in a Cougars jacket stops him and says, "It's great to see you." As the badn maraches on the field at halftime, the crowd stays put. No one yells for a picture or an autograph. They just stare, a jury of 3,000, which is what tonight's honoree is expected. He knoows fols here read the headlines, and he thinks they hate him.

    He walks to midfield, and a man says tinto the mike, "Tonight, we welcome back former Asheville great and current St. Louis Ram Leonard Little!"

    Some mumble. Most clap. The honoree receives a framed red No. 30, a photographer snaps and that's that. The band flares up, the teams sweep onto the field and a small gaggle of people wait. An older woman stares at him ad he signs his way down the line. She's not holding a pen or paper, and when he finally reachers her, nothing clicks. She's not from his past, not an old teacher or family friend. Her head tilts. "I've prayed for you," she says.

    And Leonard Little's arms open.

    ------------

    Sorry if I had some spelling errors or grammar mistakes! But there you go!


  2. #2
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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    Thanks alot RF16!

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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    Very good of you to take the time to transcribe this. Good insight on the situation. A tragedy for all parties involved.

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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    good job


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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    While insightful, the article doesnt answer many of the questions that it poses, such as why now (as far as talking about it). There is also no discussion of any material kind regarding last years arrest. There is no discussion regarding the comments attributed to little after the accident, that were allegedly recorded by the police (ie what about my car..) Clearly, leonard is a troubled soul and probably will be for the rest of his life and this was a good read, but hardly qualifies as a full discussion of the entire situation.

    ramming speed to all

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  6. #6
    moklerman Guest

    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    I agree GC. Even in this article, a couple things rub me the wrong way-

    He forgives those in St. Louis who boo him and the protesters who campaigned against him.I don't think he's in a position to give forgiveness about the drunk driving. I commend him for not tearing the girls head off who shot his brother. If I had his strength, I'm sure I would have thought long and hard about doing it if I was in his situation. Especially with all the pent up frustration and guilt that he's dealing with.

    "You might as well say that it was on purpose, because I Made the consious decision to do what I did." I didn't hear how he said this, but it's not something that I'd want published in a magazine if I were him. It reaks of sarcasm and not understanding his situation.

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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    I find his inability to apologize directly to the family as puzzling. Whether they accept his apology is of course out of his control, but i fail to see how he cant at least make the sincere attempt, when he truly does sound sorry. Given my cynical nature, it sounds to me like he isnt willing to apologize directly since he isnt prepared to deal with what the family might say to him. Maybe he isnt strong enough emotionally to deal with the possibility that the family doesnt forgive him, which based on the article, it certainly appears as if they dont.

    While i acknowledge that every person is his own moral compass, i find it incomprehensible that anyone who had experienced what leonard went through killing that woman could ever touch another drop of liquor again, even if it was only a beer or two here or there.

    ramming speed to all

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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    One other point to express further cynicism. I dont know whether there ever was an out of court settlement on the civil side since the family certainly had an open and shut case for wrongful death. If there are legal issues outstanding, i understand the complication, but i wonder what the settlement was and how it may have affected the various parties past, present and future behavior.

    ramming speed to all

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  9. #9
    moklerman Guest

    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    I dont know whether there ever was an out of court settlement on the civil side since the family certainly had an open and shut case for wrongful death.
    They said he served time and had probation, etc. as penalty for the drunken driving. Are you alluding to a seperate law suit that could have been filed by the family if it had desired to do so?

    I, too am surprised that Little hasn't made the attempt to apologize to the family. Some of his comments make it sound like he doesn't understand his guilt(or level of). He seems to be taking the stance that, no matter what he says it won't matter because everyone thinks he did it on purpose. Like I've said before, I don't think he get's it yet.

    The whole drinking and driving incident since then was an incredibly poor decision(even though he wasn't over the legal limit)by him and so many things about all of this seem contradictory. On the one hand, he's so wracked with guilt and remorse that he can't leave his basement, but then on the other hand he hasn't attempted to apologize to the family and thinks the fans who boo him need his forgiveness.

    His publicist needs to do a better job of coaching him. An apology to the family would be a start but he should just learn to accept that the only good answer to what he did is: "I can never make up for the mistake I made and I can understand those who criticize me. My goal is to educate others about the dangers of drinking and driving and to try and prevent as many future accidents as possible...starting with myself(!)."

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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    His publicist needs to do a better job of coaching him. --Moklerman
    100% agree. In my eyes (that is to say, from the little I know of him), Leonard is just not the type of individual that has the knack to speak publicly or even privately. That is first and foremost in terms of the mechanics that could possibly mitigate the pain and anger from all sides.

    Your suggested apology, Mok, seems to be more than appropriate -- given the difficult tenor of the whole tragedy and families envolved. Fortunately, one thing that Little has definitely on his side is his sincerity so ... use it!

    God bless this man in his double sorrow. That's quite a burden.

    PS: RF16, thanks for the article. It's a long one to put in here. Much obliged.
    Last edited by RealRam; -02-20-2006 at 12:46 AM.

  11. #11
    RamsFan16 Guest

    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    Quote Originally Posted by RealRam
    100% agree. In my eyes (that is to say, from the little I know of him), Leonard is just not the type of individual that has the knack to speak publicly or even privately. That is first and foremost in terms of the mechanics that could possibly mitigate the pain and anger from all sides.

    Your suggested apology, Mok, seems to be more than appropriate -- given the difficult tenor of the whole tragedy and families envolved. Fortunately, one thing that Little has definitely on his side is his sincerity so ... use it!

    God bless this man in his double sorrow. That's quite a burden.

    PS: RF16, thanks for the article. It's a long one to put in here. Much obliged.
    Thanks for the comments guys! And your welcome for typing it up. It only took me a good hour with my cousin sitting besides me playing Xbox Live telling me to check out what he just did 242492498245x's when I was typing it. And my fingers getting tired But seriously anything for you guys! LIVE AND DIE A RAMS FAN!

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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    great now I feel like crap, that was really friggen sad...


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  13. #13
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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    I was alluding to a civil suit by the family for money (wrongful death) moke, which is of course different than the criminal case. If there are open issues in a potential civil matter, anything he says can be used against him.

    On the coaching by the public relations person, that might help, but i think a lot of this has nothing to do with PR, its from the heart. He is obviously a man struggling with a range of emotions that fortunately most of us with never have to deal with. I am very very hesitant to judge his behavior and i do sympathize with his ongoing struggles to deal with what happened.

    I will say this. Any sympathy that i have for leonard pales in comparison to the sympathy and feeling i have for the family that has to live every day without their wife and mother. Leonard has another chance to move on with his life and try to do the right thing. The dead woman does not.

    ramming speed to all

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  14. #14
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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    First let me start buy thanking ramsfan for the thread. It opened my eyes to a story i knew little about.
    Now about Little's lack of responsibility for the apoligy to the husband & son, should he aplogize, ABSOLUTLY no doubt. But have any of us been in his shoes, havin taken a life. The guilt the heavy burden that sits with this man every day he wakes up. I personally cant imagin. I dont know how i would be honestly, I would hope i could apolgize, but ive never had to put those shoes on & pray that i never will. So for you people who want to lay jugdement on these man's soul, please look at it from the other side if you can. It's a scary position, 1 i pray i will never encounter. Its a true tragedy for all involved, 1 that will live with them all. BB

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    Re: I typed up Leonard Littles ESPN article. Here it is!

    this is so far beyond a PR thing. I would ignore my publiscist if they wanted me to do one thing or another in this case.

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