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"They treated me like I was one of the guys fighting in the stands, like I was a dirtbag," says Thomas Czechowski, a/k/a "Tommy Salami," so dubbed since grade school, he claims, for reasons that no gentleman should have to explain.
He is referring to his arrest last November, along with that of his then girlfriend Mia Aricaly, now his wife. The arrest occurred at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, home of the Bills, during the third quarter of a game with the Indianapolis Colts. Because of that arrest, and the incident that provoked it, Czechowski will be prevented from attending this weekend's contest with the Giants.
Czechowksi begins his description of what happened that day with a rather indelicate question: "What would you do if your girl asks you if you want to go up in the stadium and fuck?" His answer: "I'm such a Bills fan, I said, 'Hang on, we'll miss the best part of the game.' But within 15 minutes the Bills scored and we had a 20-point lead. So I says to her, 'All right, let's celebrate!'
"So we go up where it's, you know, less crowded," Czechowski continues. "I see this guy and his kid, probably like 14 years old. I told him, he probably don't want his kid around this area. He goes 'Why?' I says, 'You probably don't want your kid to see what's about to happen.' I was just being polite. But the guy wouldn't move for nothing. I walked over to Mia and pulled her shirt up. Then the guy's like, 'All right, let's go.' And he starts dragging his son down the stairs."
And so it was there that Tommy and Mia made love, five rows from the top of Rich Stadium.
Such tenderness, of course, could not last in such a cold, uncaring environment. And so, this act of love, born against all odds, was crushed. Explains Czechowski: "I got friggin' disrupted by about 20 fucking security guards who came running up the steps with walkie-talkies, going, 'Yeah, we got him, we got him!' " The two sexual adventurers got dressed and were taken to the stadium pokey.
Daire Irwin and Michael Kuzma were retained as Czechowski's attorneys, while Aricaly (who declined comment for this story) got her own lawyer. Irwin and Kuzma took the case to trial, where they pursued a very technical defense based on allegation of sexual intercourse. None of the witnesses, it seemed, had seen Czechowski's equipment (though most could give a pretty good description of Aricaly). Therefore, penetration would be impossible to prove. Says Irwin, "We joked when a security guy refused to say he had seen a penis we should ask, 'And how long did you look at it?' "
But the court didn't buy it. And in May the two were convicted of public lewdness, each fined $500, and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. Toughest of all for Czechowski: a ban on all Bills home games for the '99 season.
An unrepentant Czechowski gave an interview to the Buffalo News in September, where he boasted that he'd sneak back into a game and do it againwearing a pair of Groucho Marx glasses if he had to. The judge, John Curran, soon called him back into court.
"I don't think the judge appreciated my Groucho Marx comment," Czechowski says. "So, I'm in court, [there's a game on], and the judge says, 'OK, Tom, the officer here will escort you into a room, where you will stay until the game is over.' Then he says, 'Court's adjourned, I've got a Bills game to go to.' "
"Now they got me doing my work service during the games. It's friggin' crazy. During one of the earlier games they had me painting this police substation. All the cops were in this one room, watching the game on TV. It was killing me!"
For its part, the Buffalo Bills organization, while reportedly red-faced, has been extremely tight-lipped on the record. Scott Berchtold, Bills' VP of communications, answered all of the Voice's questions with a pause followed by a stern "no comment."
As for Tommy, and this defining moment in his life, he says, "I think it's excellent."