Gooden, Mack got into a tussle
By Lynn Hoppes and Shannon Shelton | Sentinel Staff Writers
Posted July 15, 2003
Around 1 a.m. Monday, Stacey Mack, a 1993 graduate of Boone High School and now with the NFL's Houston Texans, was escorted out of the Club at Firestone in downtown Orlando and given a trespassing warning by Orlando police not to return.
"I don't want this to be in the paper," Mack said as he was leaving with his entourage.
What Mack really didn't want in the newspaper is what happened the previous week when he and Magic forward Drew Gooden got into a fight, according to the owner of the dance club at 578 N. Orange Ave. and representatives for both players.
"I don't put up with that at my club. If you fight, use drugs, whatever, you're kicked out for good," said Jan Harrold, who has owned the club -- which plays a variety of music, including hip-hop -- for 11 years. "I'm not letting anyone at my club talk. It has to come from the horse's mouth, and I'm the horse."
That night already was strange enough, because around 2 a.m., Magic player Darrell Armstrong was arrested outside the nightclub and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest without violence.
But nothing has been reported about what happened an hour earlier, involving Gooden and Mack.
Here's the account, according to Harrold and the representatives:
On July 7, Gooden, several NBA players and other patrons were partying on the second floor of the dance club, in an area reserved for VIPs. Mack, who played four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars before signing with the Texans, also was in the VIP area with his friends.
Around 1 a.m., Harrold said, Gooden -- 21, 6 feet 10 and 230 pounds -- and Mack -- 29, 6 feet 1 and 238 pounds -- got into a fight, actually a lot of pushing and shoving. Barstools were thrown and carafes of drinks were thrown, according to patrons on hand.
Operations manager Chris "Tiny" Groce, who weighs about 400 pounds, separated the players, Harrold said. As each athlete went to the opposite side of the bar, Gooden picked up an ashtray and tried to throw it at Mack, Harrold said.
As Gooden reached back, he hit Groce in the head with the ashtray.
Orlando police responded and issued a trespass warning to Gooden, meaning he was kicked off the property and told not to return. The report stated the reason as "fighting in club -- throwing chairs and ashtray." At the time, Mack wasn't cited. He was just told to leave.
The Magic had no comment on the new allegations, team spokesman Joel Glass said. Last Tuesday, Gooden admitted to being at the nightclub but said, "I'm not talking about anything that night."
But Monday afternoon, Gooden's agent, Calvin Andrews, said, "It wasn't that big of a deal. Stacey was out of line for what he did. He threw something at Drew. Then Drew threw something back. It didn't come to fisticuffs. It's an unfortunate situation. I didn't see it happen, though. It sounds a little ridiculous. It really wasn't fighting. A chair was thrown at him [Gooden]. He threw an ashtray at a guy. It wasn't a big fight or a big ruckus. Please don't take this way out of context."
Andrews continued, "I'm wondering what kind of problem Stacey has with Drew? Whatever it is, does that justify him throwing a barstool at Drew?"
After receiving his citation Monday when he returned to the club, Mack didn't comment any further.
But Mack's agent, Tim McGee, said, "Hey, no fists were thrown. It was a case of boys being boys. My chest hair is bigger than your chest hair. Let's keep this in perspective."
But the real concern is for Groce, who was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center early that morning. He had magnetic resonance imaging on his head and was released. Groce hasn't been back at work since then. Reached last night, Groce said, "I can't comment on anything."
But Harrold did.
"Tiny has a concussion. He has a bunch of medical bills," Harrold said. "It's up to Tiny to decide whether he wants to file charges. It's a very serious thing. You know that a concussion could lead to a blood clot -- which, you know, could kill him."
Gooden's agent, Andrews, said his client didn't know he had hit anyone. "According to what Drew told me, he just grazed the bouncer in the head. This is so weird. Drew doesn't even remember hitting the guy."
Mack's agent, McGee, said, "Stacey didn't know someone got hurt. He thought it wasn't a big deal. He was escorted out by someone, who was trying to calm everyone down."
And that person?