By Paul Newberry (AP Sports Writer) | The Associated Press
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner apologized Wednesday to the team for his drunken driving arrest, saying he made ”a bad decision”
and was prepared to deal with the consequences.
Turner was pulled over by police in suburban Gwinnett County around 5 a.m. Tuesday – just hours after scoring a touchdown in Atlanta’s 27-21 win over Denver. Police say he was clocked doing 97 mph in a 65-mph zone and booked him into jail on a DUI charge after a field sobriety test.
”I shouldn’t have been in this situation to begin with,” Turner said, meeting with reporters outside the locker room at the Falcons’ suburban training complex. ”I’ve got to learn from it.”
Turner will play Sunday when Atlanta (2-0) travels to San Diego to face the Chargers, his former team. Under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, he would be subjected to random alcohol testing and could face additional sanctions if there’s another brush with the law.
”We’re going like it’s a normal preparation week,” coach Mike Smith said after Turner and the rest of the Falcons practiced for 2 1-2 hours. ”We’re planning on having a full boat when we go out there to San Diego.”
The arrest came after a slow start to the season for the 30-year-old Turner, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards in three of his four seasons with the Falcons. The only exception was 2009, when he was limited to 11 games because of injuries.
This season, Turner has rushed for just 74 yards in the first two games, averaging a paltry 2.6 yards per carry while struggling to find holes and break tackles. Against the Broncos, he had just 27 yards on 16 carries until breaking off a 15-yard gain with his final run of the night.
Despite the lack of a power running game, which has been their trademark under coach Mike Smith, the Falcons are off to a strong start heading into the game against the Chargers (2-0).
”I just want to go out there and play hard,” Turner said. ”Play hard for my teammates and do whatever I can to help this team win.”
A police report released Wednesday said Turner told the officer he had been at Magic City, a strip club near the Georgia Dome. After initially denying he drank any alcohol after the game, he conceded that he had several shots of liquor but ”did not keep count.”
”I pointed out the fact to him that I could still smell the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath,” the officer wrote in the report. ”He stated he had a couple shots while at Magic City in Atlanta. He stated he had consumed the alcohol around 3 a.m. due to getting there late. He was able to say he has less than 10 shot(s), but approximately 5 shots. I asked him if the shots were normal size and he stated they were in cups, not shot glasses.”
The officer said Turner was cooperative during the arrest and appeared to be walking and speaking normally. But, the report said, he ”exhibited slightly bloodshot, watery, glazed eyes.” He submitted to a portable breath test, which produced a reading of .109 – above the legal limit of .08 to be considered legally drunk.
After being transported to the county jail, Turner declined to take an intoxilyzer test, which provides a more accurate reading.
The Falcons have avoided major off-the-field problems under Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, a point of emphasis after Michael Vick went to prison for funding a dogfighting operation. Smith met with Turner on Tuesday and described himself as ”very disappointed.”
Turner declined to speak specifically on his case, but made it clear he will do whatever it takes to get back in good graces.
”I don’t think anybody is more disappointed than I am in myself,” he said. ”I’ve just got to man up.”
Even before the arrest, Turner figured to be the center of attention this week. This will be only the second time he has faced the Chargers, the team he played with his first four seasons in the NFL.
”That was going to be the main story,” he said, ”but my actions made it something else now. Hopefully I can get through this and just be ready to go on Sunday.”
Turner’s teammates vowed to stick with him.
”We’ve been together so long, we know how to handle situations like this,” linebacker Mike Peterson said. ”If anything, it’s going to pull us closer.”
Receiver Roddy White showed his support for Turner with a little humor, breaking out a bullhorn while the running back was talking with the media.”
”Please … leave … Michael … alone,” White said, his voice booming. ”He has a meeting to go to.”