Sunday, November 19, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Party house brings more trouble for Bucs' Williams

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TAMPA — After the parties at the rented home of Bucs receiver Mike Williams got loud enough to bring police to the gated Lutz community, neighbor John Hagensicker chatted with the responding officer, who said the first thing he noticed when the door opened was the stripper pole in the living room.

"That tells me a lot about the lifestyle those people had," said Hagensicker, 60, who endured more than a year of living next to Williams and a large number of friends who rented the 5,400-square-foot home in the Sanctuary on Livingston development, described on its web site as "a beautiful private community in a park-like setting."

That lifestyle resulted in at least five calls to 911 from June to September last year, a lawsuit and threats of eviction, with Williams, 26, agreeing in September to pay more than $43,000 in damages (plus attorney fees), extend his lease by one month (at $6,000) and surrender a $3,600 security deposit.

Coupled with recent unrelated charges for trespass and criminal mischief that have Williams facing an arraignment on Monday, his future with the Bucs is now in question, seven months after he signed a six-year, $40 million extension.

"There's a pattern here and it's disturbing," new coach Lovie Smith said when asked about the situation at the NFL combine in Indianapolis on Thursday. "No one is bigger than this football team. He has to understand that.

"Have I been disappointed in Mike Williams? Of course," said Smith, who acknowledged that the team had worked to help resolve the situation. "There's a standard. We're just not going to put up with it, no matter who it is. You have to be good on the field and off the field. Simple as that. And if you're not doing what you need to do one or the other, you have problems and that's where Mike has to take care of a few things."

Williams made it clear from the start of his time in the home, purchased by Warren Gold in 2005 for $845,500, that this fully furnished rental was a place to throw Gatsby-style parties.

"Its going down again," he wrote on his Facebook page the weekend he moved in shortly before the 2012 Bucs season. "The biggest house party of the year September 21 … most flights and hotels is paid by me alot of special guests will be there … everything free no catch."

There was a catch, however. That Sept. 21 was the Friday night before a Bucs road game at Dallas, in Greg Schiano's first season as head coach.

Williams would match a season low with two catches in that game, and the Bucs would muster just 166 yards of offense in a 16-10 loss, their lowest total in Schiano's two seasons. It is unclear whether any of Williams' teammates attended the party.

"It was horrible," Hagensicker said. "I despise Mr. Williams. You live in the Sanctuary, you think about the name, and it's quiet and peaceful. It's what we moved there for. … It was shocking to me. He was the absolute worst neighbor anyone can imagine."

"There were parties … just whooping it up over there," said neighbor Darryl Heiden, who lives behind the house. "On occasion, there were a lot of cars over there, but it wasn't all the time."

According to a settlement agreement signed in November between Williams and the homeowner, the Bucs receiver acknowledged he "continuously refused to abide by the terms" of the earlier settlement, which dictated the nearly $50,000 to cover damages to the furniture, carpet, walls and swimming pool — with other items "missing altogether."

There have been five 911 calls to the property since June, ranging from a kitchen fire to roommate Tyshawn Edwards telling police in the middle of the night he partied too much at a Bucs game and someone may have spiked his drink.

Williams and his friends didn't leave the property when the lease was up at the end of August, prompting a call to 911 for trespassing. After threats of eviction, he signed the September agreement.

By December, when Williams still had not paid, Gold filed a breach of contract lawsuit and only this month has it been amended to show "notice of confidential rule," hinting at a final settlement and gag order.

Gold and his attorney, Wayne Surbur, declined to comment. Neither Williams nor his agent, Hadley Engelhard, responded to requests seeking comment. Stephen Romine, Williams' attorney in his criminal case, issued a brief statement to the Times on Thursday night about a resolution between Williams and Gold: "My understanding is that the matter is already being resolved.''

Neighbors painted a vivid picture of a year of loud chaos at all hours in the middle of a normally quiet neighborhood.

Hagensicker said parties at the house kept him up at night, with stretch limos pulling up and unloading people at 4 a.m. The parties were big enough that cars were parked on his grass, driving over his lawn as they left, leaving tracks and breaking sprinkler heads. He saw mattresses left on the lawn and woke up to deer eating from garbage left around the house.

"I'd be lying in bed at night and couldn't sleep," he said. "Big boom boxes blaring, and it would shake my head on my pillow. I've never known people so rude and so low-class. I was astonished."

Williams' court appearance Monday relates to misdemeanor charges of trespass and criminal mischief, accused of causing up to $200 damage to a woman's front door in December.

Williams had off-field flags before the Bucs drafted him in 2010. He had been dismissed from school at Syracuse amid academic issues, returned to school then quit the team in November 2009.

Late in his rookie season, Williams was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence, a charge that was dropped two months later. It's one of 16 traffic citations he has received since 2010, including a crash with property damage in 2012 and five red-light camera tickets in a span of six weeks last year.

Williams' off-field problems in the past year have come as the team actively traded away other players with outside issues: Cornerback Aqib Talib and running back LeGarrette Blount were separately traded to the Patriots, and cornerback Eric Wright was released.

But Williams was embraced by the Bucs, who signed him to a six-year, $40 million extension (including $15 million guaranteed) last summer when he still had a year left on his rookie contract.

"The way he plays and practices the game is really important to me," Schiano said in announcing the extension. "We are looking for guys that are going to do things the right way and love the game of football, not like it. And this guy right here, he loves it."

Williams missed the final 10 games of 2013 with a hamstring injury and appears to have spent a significant amount of his down time working as part of a rap group known as CMG, short for "Cave Man Group."

Songs have explicit and vulgar lyrics, and Williams identifies himself as a Bucs player on some tracks. In January, he used his Twitter account to seek "10 girls" for a "video and photo shoot" offering $500 and "possibly more" each.

New coach Smith reiterated that Williams, who now lives in the Avila gated community, has some fences to mend.

"We're not going to compromise who we are as an organization," Smith said. "It takes time to get the message across completely because I haven't had a chance to have a team meeting yet. But you don't have to have a team meeting to know what's right and wrong.

"To me, guys normally respond the same way initially when you talk to them. 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.' But it's about action and what you do from here on out. I'll just say, I'm just not going to put up with a lot of that. It's as simple as that."

New Bucs general manager Jason Licht, asked what Williams had to learn, said: "He has to learn not to make headlines off the field. Start there."

Times researchers Caryn Baird and John Martin contributed to this report.

     
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