Vindicated Newberry one of the good guys

It comes as no surprise to<EM> SF Illustrated </EM>that Jeremy Newberry will not face charges after being accused of striking a woman in a May boating incident - the second time in a year authorities have declined to pursue allegations against the 49ers' Pro Bowl center. We're not exactly saying that Newberry is a teddy bear, but he is an upstanding individual who has become a target due to a combination of his intimidating physical presence, no-backdown attitude and status as a rising NFL star.

Newberry learned earlier this week that he will not face charges in Napa Superior Court regarding the incident at Lake Berryessa, a Northern California lake resort at which Newberry was accused of grabbing a 23-year-old woman and hitting her in the face after an argument at a boat dock escalated into a scuffle. Newberry's sister, Jennifer Newberry, who also was involved in the incident, still faces a misdemeanor battery charge in the matter.

In published reports, Bill Glass, Newberry's legal representative, said, "This has been very stressful on him. It was a terrible accusation and he felt terrible about it. He grabbed (the woman's) arm and pushed her, true, but that was while she was slapping and swinging at his head. So either the girl honestly or mistakenly believed he struck her or she was reaching for the deep pockets."

For those who are not familiar with Newberry's character, Glass' comments give you everything you need know. Newberry cares about his public image. He was being protective of his younger sister, who was becoming involved in a cat fight with the other woman. He intervened. Because of who he is, the other parties exaggerated Newberry's involvement, whether this exaggeration was intentional or just something people naturally do when they cross paths in such a manner with a well-known figure.

It's also a good indication of what a person must deal with when he's a young, 6-foot-5, 305-pound athlete who makes millions of dollars and will stand up for himself and his family. Newberry had a similar incident 10 months ago in an Antioch sports bar, where he allegedly was involved in a fight. Police investigated that incident, too, and Newberry wasn't found guilty of any wrongdoing and wasn't charged.

Now, Newberry and some of his friends who also were at the bar are being sued by two Bay Area couples who are seeking unspecified damages for alleged assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium.

Nice list, huh? Newberry said at the time he wasn't involved in the alleged fight, that he knew to get out of the bar before the rumbling began. But the lawyer for the plaintiffs said his clients are seeking compensatory and punitive damages anyway. Think Newberry's fame as a wealthy athlete has anything to do with that?

Newberry has a mean streak, to be sure, but he's also a kind, respectful individual. He knows how to mix it up, but stupid he is not. Even when he attempts to avoid these kind of situations, it seems others attempt to find him responsible by association.

He's finding this out the hard way, in a public forum, as many athletes and celebrities often do. But, despite these dubious episodes of the past year, Newberry is not a bad guy. Actually, he's one of the good ones.

Niners Digest Top Stories