Rudi Johnson talked with reporters after practice today and confirmed that Tatum Bell (or Tatum Bellhop as some are calling him) did take his bags on Monday. Although Johnson did get the bags back, he's still missing what was in them.
"Underwear, socks, credit cards and money. He left my money clip with no money in it,'' said Johnson, adding that about $200 was missing. "He should've taken the clip, too. It's quite stupid if you ask me.''
What makes this whole story even more interesting is that Johnson and Bell had a conversation earlier in the day about what it would be like to play for the Lions. Apparently sometime after that is when Bell figured out what was going on and decided to seek revenge.
“All this happened once he got released,” Johnson said Wednesday as he came off the practice field. “He came here to get some stuff out of his locker. That’s when he scooped the bags up. Some real shyster, conniving stuff, man.”
The exact details of how everything unfolded differ depending on who you talk to. Rudi Johnson's story is that he was meeting with Matt Millen and left his two Gucci bags in the Lions' locker room. When they came out of the meeting the bags had disappeared, and nobody had any idea what happened to them until Johnson was shown a video from the Lions' surveillance system. That video showed Tatum Bell taking the bags in what Johnson called a "suspect" way.
Johnson did get his bags back when a woman returned them to the Lions' headquarters, but as stated already, the bags were almost completely empty. The woman that returned the bags does factor into this story. Her role in the story changes based on who you talk to, but the constant is that the bags ended up at her house one way or another.
The Detroit Free Press got a hold of Tatum Bell today and he called the situation a "misunderstanding" and said that he "ain't know thief." He went on to tell his side of the story, and what a story it is.
Knowing he was going to be released, Bell went to clean out his locker. Former teammate Victor DeGrate, a fellow Oklahoma State product who had been cut Saturday, asked him to grab his backpack. He grabbed two bags by the computer area, thinking they were DeGrate’s.
“I didn’t have a clue,” Bell said. “I wasn’t thinking or nothing at the time. I just grabbed the backpack and grabbed the other bag. It wasn’t in nobody’s locker or nothing like that. It was just sitting right there by the computers. … So I grabbed them and put them in the car.”
Bell said he took the bags to a friend of DeGrate’s, as DeGrate had asked him, too. Messages have been left for the woman and DeGrate.
Ahh, I see. Tatum Bell just happened to grab two of the wrong bags and then just happened to drop them off at some woman's house. Mind you, this was all done for Victor DeGrate, who was released on Saturday. And to top it all off, the woman returned the bag to the Lions even though she was, according to Bell, a friend of DeGrate's. Yeah, that's quite the story, Tatum.
When Johnson confronted Bell about the situation, Johnson wasn't buying the story Bell was telling him at all.
"He tried to make up an excuse. He said some girl had got it and took it to somebody's house,'' Johnson said. "The story didn't make any sense so I didn't pay it any attention.
"He knows how I feel about it, trust me. He knows how I feel about it and it's nothing positive. He said it was a mixup. It is what it is.''
Johnson isn't going to involve the police in this situation, stating that he "can handle it." I hope he gets his stuff back, but I don't really expect that to happen considering that would likely involve Bell coming clean. And if it turns out that Bell is surprisingly telling the truth (99.9% chance he isn't), then that woman better start coming up with a good story of her own.
Bell really better hope he is telling the truth and something comes out that clears his name, otherwise, according to PFT, there's a good chance that no team will sign Bell in the future. Although he already has worked out for the Texans, that was before this whole story broke. I would assume that this story certainly would change Houston's interest in Bell unless he can get them to believe the tale he's telling.
UPDATE: Pro Football Talk reports that not only are the Texans not interested in Tatum Bell, but they were never interested in him in the first place.