He was the star quarterback for whom Woody Hayes rewrote Ohio State's offense. Then gambling ended his NFL career and finally led to prison.
Editor’s note: The sad saga of Art Schlichter, now suffering from Parkinson’s disease, will enter a new chapter later this year, when he’s scheduled to be released from prison for defrauding 55 investors in a ticket scam. As in the past, Schlichter used the money to fund his gambling addiction, which destroyed his promising athletic career. In 1995, Columbus Monthly explored his fall from grace.
“Compulsive gamblers will bet until nothing is left: savings, family assets, personal belongings—anything of value that may be pawned, sold or borrowed against. They will borrow from co-workers, credit unions, family and friends, but will rarely admit that it is for gambling. They may take personal loans, write bad checks and ultimately reach and pass the point of bankruptcy. Compulsive gamblers believe that they are borrowing and will replace what has been taken—after a ‘big win.’ However, no win is ever ‘big’ enough. In desperation, compulsive gamblers may panic and often will turn to illegal activities.”
That’s from an essay on compulsive gambling written several years before the greatest quarterback in Ohio State history found himself in a North Las Vegas jail cell, penniless, separated from his family and facing charges that could land him in prison for the next 100 years.
In that one paragraph, sports fans, is the story of the downfall of Arthur Ernest Schlichter.
We shall call him Arthur because that's what the small coterie of family and friends that is his last bastion of sympathy call him. And the telling of his tale demands some sympathy. If you have no compassion for the hero who's brought himself to ruin, how about those who loved him but couldn't stop him?
"Arthur's got an addiction," says his dad, Max, answering, as if it's only too obvious, the question: How-how did it come to this? How did this handsome, intelligent, superbly gifted athlete—who might still be making big bucks in the NFL or maybe gabbing on ESPN—get to the point where he's going to spend two years in a federal prison for, among other things, stealing $16,500 from his wife's sister?
"He could still be playing now," says Arthur's old Buckeye teammate, running back Calvin Murray, who later played with the Philadelphia Eagles. "He could be a premier quarterback—a Montana, a Marino, an Elway, going into the Hall of Fame. The boy had it."
"He could have been another Fran Tarkenton," says Jerry Kutner, comparing Arthur to the Hall of Fame quarterback who parlayed his fame and charm into a broadcasting career and a multimillion dollar fortune. Kutner is the owner of the radio station in Las Vegas where Arthur hosted a popular sports talk show last year.
“I loved the guy," Kutner says, "He's one of the most charming, intelligent, articulate people I've ever met in my life." Yet Kutner fired Arthur last July after, Kutner says, he discovered that his popular afternoon drive-time host had stolen 25 of his personal checks.
"I'm terribly sorry for what I've done,” Arthur told a federal judge in lateJanuary in the Last Vegas courtroom where he was sentenced to two years in jail. "I'm ashamed. I hope that I can prove one day that I can be an honest person."
The day that a young Arthur Schlichter made his first bet put him on the road that, we now know, was leading straight to a federal courtroom in Las Vegas: Wearing a gray prison uniform with NLVDC—for North Las Vegas Detention Center—printed on the back, shackled at the ankles, pleading not to be sent to prison for too long.
You wouldn't have recognized him. He's lean—leaner than in his playing days, even—and his hairline is racing toward the back of his head. But he looks good, considering that he was a bloated wreck when he went into jail two months earlier.
"He's lost 55 pounds since he's been in there," says Ron, a friend of Arthur's who doesn't want his last name used. "He cares tremendously about his personal appearance now, which hasn't always been the case."
Ron's known Arthur forever,since days back in Ohio whenRon owned horses that raced at Scioto Downs and Lebanon Raceway, and Arthur’s family had some ponies, too. Trips to the track then were still social events for Arthur, not, as they later became, desperate attempts to gamble his way out of crushing debt using stolen money.
Ron moved to Vegas a while back, but wasn't necessarily happy to see his old buddy rejoin him there last year: "I realized how sick he was. I saw him, I saw the disease get progressively worse. There'd be a lot of guilt, then he'd be back at it again. I realized there was nothing any individual could do for him. He was going to do it his way.”
No, there was no stopping him: He's lost around $2 million gambling over the years. More than a dozen doctors, therapists and compulsive gambling experts and even more friends and family members have tried and failed. They tried to stop him last January when he announced he was moving with his pregnant wife and daughter to Las Vegas.
"We questioned that at the time," Max Schlichter says. He knew Arthur was moving there so he could gamble legally, but Arthur had the radio gig lined up and it "was the best job he could find."
Kutner wondered about that, too, when he hired him. "I knew he was a gambler. I said to him, "Why are you moving to Las Vegas?' He said, 'It's legal.' "
But Arthur suspected he was walking into trouble. Mike Wolfe, another friend of Arthur's, says when Arthur told him about the move to Vegas, "He said he didn't know how long it would last before his 'problem,' as he used to call it, caught up with him."
Picture Arthur on the loose in Las Vegas ("Lost Wages," bad comedians used to call it). You can't turn around in that town without another ripe opportunity to blow some of your money staring you in the face.
Step off the plane, and there's a huge phalanx of slot machines right there in the terminal. Sit down in the hotel coffee shop after a long hard night in the casino, and there's a stack of keno cards right next to your menu. And the action goes on 24 hours a day. Glitter Gulch—another cute name for one of the ugliest cities in America—is full of come-ons.
Arthur didn't need any come-ons. He lived in Las Vegas not because it has fine gambling treatment centers—he actually once told a reporter that—but because he could feed his addiction there legally, 24 hours a day. A junkie adrift in a sea of smack.
"Horses, sports, table gambling, black jack, craps, just gambling," says Ron, describing the drugs of choice for his buddy.
Schlichter was a regular at casinos and sports books all up and down the Las Vegas strip, Kutner says. "I think he hit every one." And he lost at every one, too. Lost big.
"He was the worst sports bettor that ever existed," Kutner says, “You can know sports, but gambling is another issue. Let me tell you a story. One day he bets $1,000 on a four-team parlay," which means he needed all four teams to win for a payoff of as much as $10,000.
"Before he made the bet he asked someone in our sales department, 'I got three teams that are sure winners. I need one more.' The sales guy says, 'Take Oregon. Oregon's a winner,' " Kutner continues.
"Oregon was terrible last year. But he goes and bets based on what some sales guy tells him. His three teams won. Oregon lost. He lost $1,000. The books loved him, because he couldn't win."
"He's such a good scrambler," says Arthur's attorney, Ben Kay. "You can't scramble at a gambling table, but he tried."
How much money did Arthur lose in Vegas? Even he's probably not sure. It's not much easier figuring out how much he stole—law enforcement agencies still are trying to add it all up.
Mel Jackson, a Las Vegas police detective, explaining why the feds got first crack at charging Arthur: "It took us a while to accumulate everything. People don't stop coming in with stuff. This guy's been a very busy man."
The federal govemment, which charged him with bank fraud, rang him up for $175,000. Arthur pleaded guilty to using forged, stolen or unauthorized checks to defraud eight banks, more than 20 individuals including several longtime friends, and a dozen businesses, including Bally's and MGM Grand casinos
More charges along the same lines are coming. Jackson estimates that by the time three Nevada cities—Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson—amass the charges they're planning to file, Arthur will be on the hook for another $300,000 or $400,000.
Then there are the indictments against him last year in Cincinnati, where he lived and worked before moving to Vegas. Various theft and grand theft charges—including allegedly convincing a bank teller to take more than $20,000 out of someone else's account and give it to him— put his tab there at more than $70,000. He could get a maximum of 90 years in prison if he's convicted on all counts.
Then there's Indianapolis—he spent time there last summer and fall—where he's been charged with theft and fraud amounting to $13,500. He's accused of defrauding two banks and writing bad checks at Target department stores. Arthur faces a maximum of 22 years in Indy.
For what it's worth—and it seems too small to mention—he also allegedly wrote a bad check for more than $1,000 at an Upper Arlington Kroger in October.
If the Nevada charges come in as Jackson expects, then, Arthur will be charged with stealing more than $600,000 over the past couple years in cities all across the country. Kay has the task of sorting out the whole mess.
"Is Schlichter going to be facing more time?" Kay says, "He is. Is it necessary? No."
Kay's hoping prosecutors will go for the same sort of plea bargain he struck in Vegas—which included full restitution—allowing Arthur to serve time concurrently with the federal sentence. He'd also like treatment to be part of any sentencing.
"I hope the prosecutors will reason along with us," Kay says. "I hope they would see that he's an addict.”
That's what it's come to for the guy who might have been the next Fran Tarkenton, a guy who might have been playing in the Super Bowl in late January instead of sitting in jail. (Really you think he couldn't start for the Chargers over Stan Humphries?)
Arthur's immediate future consists of sitting in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana and hoping he can convince various prosecutors and judges that he's so pathetically addicted to gambling that he needs help more than punishment.
"You can't rationalize the man's behavior," Kay says. "You can't rationally analyze his conduct. On the one hand, these are nonviolent crimes. On the other hand, what do you do with him? He's a thief. Some people don't want to look past that."
"He had every attribute," Kutner says. "Any guy would have traded to be like him. He's just got an addiction."
"I saw Joe Namath at Beaver Falls High and I saw Snake Stabler in high school in Alabama, but Schlichter is the best I've ever seen at that level," then University of Pittsburgh coach Jackie Sherrill told a reporter before Arthur's first season atOhio State in 1978.
"What created my greatest interest in him was that he was the guy who convinced Woody Hayes to bring his offense into the 20th century," says Ritter Collett, a Dayton sportswriter who wrote Arthur's biography, Straight Arrow, before that title became an ironic joke.
Arthur was as good a high school athlete as ever graced a football field or basketball court in Ohio. Miami Trace High School never lost a game he started at quarterback. He took Trace to a regional final in the state tournament in basketball.
"I really always thought Arthur's best sport was basketball,"Max Schlichter says.
"He was one of the finest all-around athletes I've ever seen," Collett says. "He could have played Division I basketball." In fact, Arthur played briefly forEldon Miller at Ohio State after one football season, though he never lettered.
He was born and raised on a farm in Bloomingburg, just a hop and skip off 1-71 about 40 minutes south of Columbus. “There isn't a whole lot to do out here,"Arthur told a reporter before he moved to the big city. “Even the nearest cinema is in Grove City."
So when he wasn't working on the farm, he played. By the time he was 4, he was dribbling rings around the other kids with a basketball. He'd throw a football for hour upon hour at a net stretched between two poles in the yard. By the time he was a senior at Trace, he could throw a football 80 yards.
And he was exposed, however innocently, to gambling.
"He grew up in Fayette County, where breeding of standardbred horses, trotters and pacers, is a way of life,"Collett says. "I knew that Arthur was around that. One of his best friends' father was a trainer. So what happened to him was not a shock."
Whetherhe indulged in any gambling as a teenager isn't clear. His father says he didn't. Ron says, "Other than going to the track, gambling was not a big part of his life.”
But Arnie Wexler, a leading authority on compulsive gambling who's known Arthur for 12 years, says, "Art was gambling in high school, he was gambling in college. This didn't happen because of Ohio State. Almost all compulsive gamblers started gambling before they were 14."
Wexler, author of the paragraph that opened this story, is a disciple of the late Dr. Robert Custer, a leader in the field who treated Arthur when he first admitted his gambling problem in 1983. Wexler says Custer introduced him to Arthur on his second day of treatment in 1983.
Arthur perfectly fits the profile of a compulsive gambler, says Wexler, a former compulsive gambler himself. "They're usually people with hyperactivity, high levels of energy, high levels of optimism.They're usually very intelligent."
Max Schlichter wonders whether Arthur's choice of Ohio State—he wanted to play close to home—over every other school in the country was the wisest choice.
Max says Arthur was mighty impressed to have Woody Hayes offering to throw his lifelong offensive philosophy away to lure him to Columbus.
"Woody told him he'd throw the ball 25 times a game if he'd come to Ohio State," Max says. "Woody spent a lot of time with him that first year. They had a great relationship. Arthur has never gotten over throwing the interception" in the 1978 Gator Bowl that led to the famous Hayes punch that led to the famous Hayes firing. "He told me that just last winter, that he'd never gotten over that."
Arthur's other OSU relationships weren't so hot.
Calvin Murray recalls the first game of Arthur's career, versus Penn State (in which Arthur was intercepted five times), when only Woody knew whether he'd go with the freshman or with the incumbent starting quarterback, Rod Gerald: "All the way up to the start of that game, Woody was telling us Rod Gerald was the quarterback. Not until they ran on the field, and Rod went to receiver and Art went to quarterback, did we know."
"Some of the seniors felt Art should have gone słower and Rod should have started.A lot of the players thought if they'd brought Art along slowly, let him learn, he might have been better off. There was a lot of resentment among the senior class."
In later interviews, Arthur talked about how that resentment fed his desire to gamble as a release from the pressure. He was also unhappy playing for Earle Bruce. In a 1983 interview in Playboy, he talked of his frustration with Bruce's conservative offense: "I'd go home and scream at the top of my lungs and I'd.cry. I was miserable. I escaped the only way I knew how ... gambling."
And it was common knowledge around the OSU football program, Murray says. "Nobody would recognize that he had a problem. He was Art Schlichter, the golden boy. They wanted to cover it up. I was one of the guys who said, 'Let's get this guy some help.' But nobody wanted to listen."
"He used to play Liar's Poker. He'd play it all the time on the plane to away games, anytime. Art was the one who couldn't kick it. The other guys were able to get away from it," Murray says.
When the extent of Arthur's gambling became clear in later years, a lot of people around Columbus started to remember seeing him at the track with Bruce. When Bruce was fired in 1987, it was reported that then-OSU president Ed Jennings had not cared for Bruce's alleged connection to Arthur's gambling.
Bruce denied ever going to the track with Schlichter, and, given the enmity between them (“Earle Bruce never did a thing to help Arthur," Max says), that seems likely. Bruce, who could not be reached for this story, was, however, a well-known race fan, and it seems equally likely that he might have run into his star quarterback at the track.
But gambling didn't seem to affect Arthur's performance on the field. He took the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season as a sophomore, and only a tough loss to SouthernCal in the Rose Bowl cost the team a national championship.
He still holds just about every passing record at OSU. The numbers tell the story: 951 attempts, 497 completions, 50 touchdowns; he's Ohio State's career leader in total offense.
He was the fourth pick overall in the 1982 NFL draft and signed a five-year contract with the Baltimore Colts for $140,000 per year and a $350,000 signing bonus.
But by one year later, when the shocking "Schlichter tied to gambling" story broke, he'd already lost about $400,000 to bookies.
It's clear Arthur was already a frenzied bettor before he ever played in the NFL, as shown in this excerpt from a recording made by a gambling buddy later burned by Arthur. The friend turned the tape, recorded just days before the Colts drafted Arthur, over to the NFL in 1983. The transcript originally was published in the Columbus Citizen Journal, which excised obscenities.
The conversation shows Arthur desperately trying to get his friend to place a bet, even though he already owed bookies several thousand dollars.
Friend: ... every time we bet, you're always going to pay. But I never get paid,
AS:Hey, we never went through that. Just put it on the ---- tab, I want to win some of the ---- money back. If I want to do some ---- betting tonight, I should have the- right
Friend: Tomorrow, when you pay me, then we'll bet.
AS:I just said I have to put up 3,500 ---- dollars, and I have to put up $2,500 and $3,000 tomorrow morning. And that should give me the ---- right to bet whatever I --- want. I'm going to pay my half of the bet the rest of it--tomorrow.
Friend: And then you can bet.
AS:No, I should be able to bet tonight.
Friend: No. I ain't betting tonight. I ain't chasing money. You told me we are doing it my way now.
AS:---- that way!
Friend: All right. Is that it?
AS:No! I'm ----off. I will ---- Pay. I ---- swear on a ---- Bible I will be over there with the money tomorrow morning.... You can come over and cut my ----off if I don't bring you that money at noon tomorrow. But I should be able to play tonight after all the ---- collateral I put up already.
Friend: ... You put me in a jam, boy.
AS:This ain't no jam. In another ---- week I'm going to be a ---- millionaire.
Arthur finally convinced the friend to make the bets. Arthur bet $6,500 on six baseball games and two professional basketball games. Six of his eight teams lost.
The pattern, apparently, never changed from college through his final days in Vegas. When he went to the track while in college, "He would drop $500 to $700 on a horse that didn't have a chance," one report said.
One of the four Baltimore bookies who were taken down in 1983 when Arthur went to the FBI because he feared what the bookies might do about his unpaid debts said, "I just couldn't understand some of his bets. I'd give him the odds and he wouldn't even take the time to digest them. He'd bet practically every game immediately."
The NFL suspended Arthur in 1983. Though he'd play sparingly for the Colts again in 1984 and '85, try out for the Buffalo Bills in 1986 and reportedly was offered a contract by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1987, his career in the National FootballLeague was essentially over. The league denied Arthur's subsequent requests to be reinstated.
Friends rallied to Arthur after he was suspended in 1983. He'd made a mistake, was the consensus of his supporters, and deserved another shot. Two Columbus men, in particular—Gil Kirk and attorney Chuck Freiburger—put considerable effort and expense into resurrecting Arthur.
Kirk lobbied the NFL on Arthur's behalf and got him signed to the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League, where he played briefly before being injured and released. Freiburger did his best to clean up Arthur's many legal hassles, Arthur declared bankruptcy in 1988, claiming about $1 million in debts.
All Kirk, Freiburger and Arthur's other backers wanted him to do was stop gambling. It was too much to ask. A bad check here, another gambling charge there—he pleaded guilty to gambling in Indianapolis in 1987, admitting to betting more than $200,000 in one 10-week stretch-and always a repentant Arthur talking afterward about how hard he was working on his problem. His visits to gambling treatment centers usually coincided with some new legal problem.
Freiburger, who, like Kirk, did not want to comment for this story, got into hot water himself at one point when Arthur was charged with writing a bad check at a gas station near Circleville. Freiburger told the judge that Arthur wasn't in court because he was at a hospital being treated for his addiction.
The judge received numerous calls the next day from people saying they had seen Arthur at Beulah Park when he was supposed to be in court and/or the hospital. Freiburger took the blame for the "miscommunication," but by the time Arthur finally showed up in court, he had a new attorney.
As Kay said at Arthur's sentencing in Vegas, "A pathological gambler is in fact a pathological liar."
By the late '80s, Arthur was reduced to working any kind of job he could get to support himself and his wife, Mitzi, whom he married in 1987: construction, selling vans at Ricart Ford, selling used cars in Vegas. But his real full-time pursuit was gambling
"One thing that derailed him was when [Bengals 'owner] Paul Brown offered him a contract and the NFL wouldn't let him back in," Ron says."He knew he was capable and Paul Brown knew it. It seemed like his illness got progressively worse from that point on."
Arthur had one last shot at glory on a football field, albeit a small, indoor one. The Detroit Drive of the Arena Football League signed him in 1990, paying him $600 a game in an eight-game season. Arthur, with an infant daughter, Taylor Renee, was glad to have the paycheck.
He earned his money with the Drive, taking the team to the league championship in his first season and being named league Most Valuable Player along the way. In 1991, he took the Drive to the championship game again, losing in the final minutes.
Drive management did everything it could to help its franchise player.Arthur worked in the team's marketing office and for the Detroit Red Wings hockey team in idle hours. The team put him on a budget and monitored his behavior, making sure he was attending Gambler's Anonymous meetings and visiting a therapist.
He told a reporter in 1991 that he hadn't bet on sports since 1987 (a gambling conviction would have violated the probation he'd received in '87 in Indianapolis). But he was gambling, and things were getting too hot for him to stay in Detroit.
In '92, he signed with the Cincinnati Rockers of the arena league and took them to the playoffs. Rockers management took the same Big Brother approach the Drive had, even going as far as sending a weekly allowance to Mitzi and putting the rest into an account to pay off his debts.
The boy still had it, as his career statistics—impressive even for the pass-happy arena game—show: 444 completions in 851 attempts for 6,067 yards; 105 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.
But he was betting heavily and passing bad checks, and word started to get around. How he managed to perform so well on the field and maintain the scams to support his gambling doesn't surprise Wexler. "The percentage of people who can still function while they're compulsive gambling, it's probably in the high 90s," he says.
While playing for the Rockers, Arthur met Cincinnati radio personality Mike Wolfe and the two became friends; they had daughters the same age, and the two families would often get together. Wolfe later worked with Arthur at WSAI, a sports-talk station where Arthur landed after he left the Rockers.
The Rockers fired him despite his productivity, Wolfe says: "He didn't retire. They tried to put a good face on it, but they'd had enough. There'd be cops at the dressing room door."
"He got hurt in Detroit one time when he was playing for Cincinnati and they wanted to take him to the hospital. He wanted no part of that, there was no way he was going to spend the night in Detroit—who knew who was looking for him up there.He wanted out of there.”
Arthur had majored in communications at Ohio State, had done a little radio work in Columbus and in Washington Court House. When WSAI inaugurated its all-sports format in the fall of 1992, Arthur had the kind of name recognition the small station could use.Wolfe's recollections of Arthur's Cincinnati radio days are instructive, since—as court documents and the accounts of his friends and associates show, it's pretty much what Arthur been doing ever since.
"Art could have been very good, but he spent too much time trying to bilk people out of money," Wolfe says. "He didn't work at it. He'd be at a commercial break, and he'd pick up the phone, even if it was a first-time caller, and he'd try to find out if they had any money."
"He was never there. If he thought somebody he owed money to would be knocking at the door, he'd come up with some kind of excuse not to be around."
"He'll borrow $500 from you to pay the $200 he owes me," Wolfe says."Then he'll borrow $1,000 from somebody else to pay you, and he's betting everything that's left over."
"I never had any problem with him becauseI told him right up front, 'If I had a billion dollars I wouldn't give you a nickel.' And we were done with it. He knew I wasn't a touch," Wolfe says.
"I never saw Art when he didn't have a telephone. I was at his home over Christmas in '93, the families were there and everything, and he was on the phone constantly, running up huge cellular phone bills."
Arthur's friends and family who will talk openly about his gambling problems are reluctant to talk about how it all affected Mitzi. Wolfe says Mitzi "always just kept this nice image. She's a lovely girl. I feel bad for Art and I feel bad for Mitzi."
Wolfe says WSAI management, liking Arthur and fearing bad publicity, covered for him when a victim of one of his scams threatened to make trouble.Arthur worked there until the station was sold and changed formats in January 1994.
His gambling, his scamming and his lying ("I haven't bet with bookmakers for years upon years," he told a Cincinnati reporter in 1992), got worse during his last days at WSAI.
"The thing that really kicked Arthur off this time was that they lost a baby at midterm," Max says. "It was a little boy, six months. He just went crazy.He became frenzied."
By the time he went to work for Kutner at KVEG in Las Vegas last year, Arthur was in what Wexler calls the "desperation phase."
"He looked like hell the last time I saw him," Wolfe says.
The first time he met Arthur, Kay says, "He asked me if I'd take care of some traffictickets for him. I said, 'Well, I'm not really a traffic lawyer, but I'll see what I can do.' He said he got four traffic tickets in one night, I said,‘How'd you get four traffic tickets in one night?' ”
"He said, 'I was on my way to make a bet.' He's speeding, he's driving up on curbs—how that's a man who wants to make a bet."
John Ham, the assistant U.S. attorney in Las Vegas who prosecuted Arthur, says that after several banks notified his office that they'd been defrauded by Arthur, the local FBI office began investigating.
"It was just one big vicious circle," Ham says. "I was amazed at how he could keep straight how many stories he had told people—why he hadn't paid them back, what he'd done with the checks—trying to keep them from going to the authorities."
Arthur's lowest point, and surely his greatest shame, occurred last May, when his wife's sister came to Vegas to stay with the Schlichters right about the time of the birth of their daughter Madison.
As documented in his guilty plea, Arthur stole at least 12 checks from his sister-in-law and began papering the town with them: cashing them at sports books and casinos, and conning another man into depositing the checks into his account then withdrawing cash to give to Arthur.
Mitzi packed up her daughters and went back to her folks in Indiana. Arthur followed shortly thereafter.
"I'm sure he wanted to patch things up," Ron says. Ron believes no divorce is pending, as does Max, who says, “It's not an official separation. They've done this from necessity. She moved into her parents' home because they don't have the money for rent."
Arthur had been fired from his radio job by this point. His reputation for burning his friends and passing bad checks had even become a topic on the KVBG air waves, Kutner says. "Toward the end, everybody knew. The consensus was that he became a bad dude. Nice people don't go around hurting people by stealing their money."
Warren Bates, the federal courts reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, says Arthur wasn't that big a story in Vegas. "He's just another wise guy. And in this town, wise guys are a dime a dozen."
He wasn't just another wise guy to Ron, who was victimized himself in one of Arthur's scams. "The first thing he would do when he had a hit was to pay people back," Ron says, "He would keep some money back to play, but he knew he was living on the edge. People were really pressing him. The only alternative was to keep some money" to gamble, looking for the big score that, like all compulsive gamblers, he believed would end his problems.
Arthur once told Kutner about the night his gambling actually had produced a $30,000 windfall. He was driving home, intent on using the money to pay off some of his debts, and came to a stoplight. He could have turned turn left and headed for home.
But he didn't. He turned right, headed for the casino at the MGM Grand, and blew the 30 grand in no time at all.
Aside from his name all over the record listings in the Ohio State football media guide, it carries no mention, no picture, of Arthur. Not even in the "Buckeye Greats" section.
But at Miami Trace, his jersey and his pictures still hang on the wall of fame. "Everyone makes mistakes," says Trace athletic director Charley Andrews. "He's had problems, but none of them happened while he was here, so there's no reason to take anything away from him."
Taking his freedom away, at this point, is Arthur's only hope, some of his friends believe.
"Art has to be stopped,” Mike Wolfe says."Not counseled-stopped. The best thing that could happen to him is to go away for a while."
Ron says jail "has given him time to reflect on his life. It's the absolute best thing that could have happened to him. He definitely won't gamble. He will not gamble again. I would have said before, for Arthur not to gamble again, you would have to cut out his heart."
Wexlersays treatment, not incarceration, is the answer for Arthur. Wexler says he talks to Arthur "three or four times a week. He calls me from jail. I'll tell you, in the last couple of months, he's changed. And I've been with him from day one."
"I think he's reading the right material. He's looking at himself. I think he's becoming more honest. When he tells me, I've gotta take responsibility for this,' that tells me something. I think he's trying to change himself."
At his sentencing, Arthur talked about being in jail. He started with the day he turned himself in:
"I had never been incarcerated a day in my life before that day. I can tell you that experience was the hardest thing I ever had to do. It gave me a chance to look at myself. And it made me—it changed me. I am ashamed to stand here and admit to the crimes I've committed. I want to demonstrate my commitment to honesty, to make restitution."
"Arthur's not done, " Max says. "There are other people who have god-given talent and have wasted it and have still had lives."
Calvin Murray says, "You hate to see it. He's suffering. His wife's suffering. A lot of guys still want to help him get back on his feet. We're still his teammates."
"He was an exceptional athlete. I'd never take anything away from his athletic ability. He always gave 110 percent on the field, tried to help everybody and motivate everybody. His problem just got out of hand. If they'd caught it early enough, it could have saved the boy's life."
This story originally appeared in the April 1995 issue of Columbus Monthly.
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