Did the Miami Dolphins or Cleveland Browns know about Davone Bess’ March 2013 meltdown and hospitalization before consummating a trade the following month?
Neither team will — or likely can — say.
Federal privacy laws are clear when it comes to mental health. An individual’s past, present or future physical or mental condition is protected information, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
No surprise, then, that the Dolphins had no comment when asked Saturday if they were aware of Bess’ incident at his Cooper City home when it happened 10 months ago. Six Broward sheriff’s deputies were needed to restrain an incoherent Bess that night, according to police records. Cops also witnessed the then-Dolphins receiver screaming, “Hide the guns!” “Where is my weed?” and “I want to get in the end zone; throw me the football!”
Bess’ behavior somehow got even more bizarre Saturday. Coral Springs police were called out to the Marriott hotel at Heron Bay for what they described as an incident involving Bess. The police referred to it as a medical call and no arrest was made. At roughly the same time, Bess tweeted out a picture of himself naked standing in front of a mirror in a bathroom. Bess later deleted the picture, but it was saved by Deadspin before he did.
Word of the March 2013 incident was not made public until Friday, hours after Bess was arrested at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for having a similar episode. BSO claims Bess was acting irrationally in the airport concourse before crushing a cup of coffee on a sheriff’s deputy, removing his shirt and taking up a fighting posture. He was charged with assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. The deputy believed Bess was on drugs.
All the Browns would say about the most recent incident is that they are aware of the situation and gathering more information. Bess had already been under a microscope for posting pictures of what appeared to be marijuana on his Twitter account. Speculation is that the Browns will cut ties with him.
Regardless of whether they knew of Bess’ issues prior to making the draft-weekend trade, they are open to criticism. If they did, why go through with the deal? If not, how could they miss it? It’s not as if the March 2013 incident was hidden. Within two hours of a standard records request by the Miami Herald on Friday, BSO provided the incident report.
As for the Dolphins, they weren’t The Dolphins were not required to inform the Browns of the forced hospitalization — assuming they knew about it. Trades in the NFL truly are buyer-beware. NFL teams must provide whatever medical records they have to a trade partner, but it’s unclear if such documentation even existed in Dolphins archives, since the incident occurred in the offseason and away from team headquarters. Traded players must undergo a physical before a deal is finalized.
Bess was said to be headed to Oakland, Calif., at the time of his arrest Friday to seek treatment.