Brian Holloway, ex-NFL Player, Exposes Youth Who Trashed His Home With Tweets, Pictures
Teenagers picked the wrong guy to mess with
ALBANY, N.Y.—Former NFL offensive lineman Brian Holloway initially thought the Twitter photos showing young people partying at his family’s second home in upstate New York were a hoax. Then he saw pictures of teenagers standing on the dining room table he bought with his Super Bowl bonus.
Holloway’s rural vacation home was trashed during a Labor Day weekend party attended by up to 400 teenagers. Holloway said the partiers caused at least $20,000 in damage, breaking windows and doors, punching holes in walls and spraying graffiti. He saw the whole thing unfold live on Twitter — and now he’s using the teens’ own posts to reveal their identities and to try to set them on a better path.
Holloway, who played offensive tackle for the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Raiders in the 1980s, said his 19-year-old son, a University of Southern Florida sophomore, alerted him to the party after receiving tweets about it the night of Aug. 31.
Holloway was at his home in Lutz, Fla., at the time and watched as more tweets about the party were posted, many of them accompanied by photos of young people drinking throughout his home in Stephentown, on the Massachusetts border 25 miles southeast of Albany.
“We were getting eyewitness reports of what was happening while it was happening. We couldn’t believe what was going down,” Holloway said.
Before he could call police, more tweets reported that officers had arrived, Hollowaysaid. The partygoers scattered across his 200-acre property, which includes the main house and a guest house set amid rolling countryside in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains.
Yvonne Keefe, spokeswoman for the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed Wednesday that a “very large investigation” into the party was underway. Police believe 200 to 400 young people were at the party, but investigators aren’t commenting on the role social media is playing in the probe, she said.
No arrests have been reported.
Word of the party had spread via social media, and it attracted students at high schools from the Albany area and western Massachusetts, Holloway said. Holloway, who’s now a motivational speaker, said he gave anti-drug and alcohol talks at some of those same schools during his playing days, which included an appearance in Super Bowl XX, when the Patriots lost to the Chicago Bears.
Holloway said the partiers broke about 10 windows and glass doors, punched dozens of holes in the walls, dragged kegs of beer across oak floors and left behind an “enormous amount” of graffiti. His $20,000 damage estimate does not include personal items that were stolen.
Several teens who weren’t at the party but heard about it showed up this week and helped remove urine-soaked carpets and 10 large trash bags filled with liquor bottles, Holloway said, adding that drug paraphernalia also was found scattered about his property.
Holloway, a father of eight, said he used Twitter postings to compile 200 names of teens he said were at the party. He has been posting them on a website — helpmesave300 — in an effort to get them to come forward, take responsibility for their actions and change their behavior.
“It’s not hard to identify who they were. We’ve got 170 tweets. We have 200 to 220 names already confirmed today. I’m going to go online right now — I guarantee I’ll have 10 more names of people who are sharing who was there, what they did. And that data is all going to the sheriffs,” Holloway said.
He said he is inviting “the 300″ to show up and help clean the place up for a celebration picnic he is hosting this weekend for military personnel.
“We need to get these young kids turned around,” he said “We need to get them on the right track.”
The superintendent for a district where Holloway said some of the partiers go to school said one student had been confirmed as having been at the party. Averill Park Superintendent James Hoffman said the underage drinking party is a police matter but will be used to educate other students about personal behavior.
“It will be brought up in freshman seminar classes about kids making choices,” Hoffman said. “It’s definitely a topic that’ll come up in places like that.”
Column: Those kids messed with the wrong guy
The kids who trashed Brian Holloway’s vacation house during a wild Labor Day party weekend in upstate New York messed with the wrong guy.
They gained plenty of notoriety, sure, but they’re about to get more trouble than they bargained for, too. And not just because Holloway is a former NFL lineman who knows a thing or two about meting out rough justice.
He also happens to be a Stanford grad who’s every bit as savvy at using social media as the kids who descended on his family’s second home in upstate New York, then bragged about the destruction with photos and posts in real time on Twitter. More to the point, Holloway belongs to a family of prominent activists who don’t just walk away from scrapes that other people started.
“I blew way past furious when this thing happened,” Holloway said Thursday. “But the real backhand slap came yesterday.
“I’ve got a few hundred names (of kids who attended) already. They weren’t hard to find. They told on themselves using social media the way they did. I’ve been talking to nearly all of them on my website (helpmesave300). But when I made an appeal to come back here and help make it right … only one of them showed up yesterday with his dad.
“Look, I’ve got eight kids of my own, so I understand you can’t watch every one of them all the time,” he said. “But for this to happen, it shows we’re off the rails as a society. And it’s up to us as parents to come together and ask: ‘How do we respond?’”
The Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the party, which drew between 200 and 400 kids from the Albany area and western Massachusetts. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Yvonne Keefe called it “a very large investigation.” No arrests have been reported.
Meantime, Holloway is taking some matters into his own hands.
“I can’t say exactly what, but something will be going down tomorrow,” he said, adding, “And you’ll be calling me about it, too.”
Holloway is sorting through the damage to the 200-acre site in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Initial estimates set the cost at $20,000 minimum, yet despite the broken windows and doors, and the graffiti spray-painted across the main and guest houses, Holloway and several family members are determined to pull together a pot-luck dinner for military veterans and their families on Saturday.
“Just a day in the country on this beautiful piece of property for some people who deserve it,” Holloway said.
He borrowed a phrase from Vince Lombardi to describe what the last few days have been like: “Sweeping the ocean back with a broom.” And while all of that sounds like a monumental task, well, it’s hardly the first one the Holloway family has dealt with.
His great uncle, Vernon Johns, a minister, was considered by many to be a founding father of the civil rights movement in America. His grandfather, William Trent Jr., was one of the driving forces in setting up the United Negro College Fund. Holloway’sbrother, Jonathon, chairs the African-American Studies Department at Yale.
“If we don’t take this on, the next party, or the one after that, will be at your house,”Holloway said. “We need to be smart about how kids talk and deal with each other today. It’s incredibly dangerous in some ways, and if we don’t take action now, we’ll wind up burying some of them later and ask ourselves, ‘Why didn’t we stop it, or change it, at the very least?’”
Holloway has been leveraging social media to begin the conversation. He’s engaging many of the same kids who destroyed his house — so much so that his website crashed twice Wednesday night after more than a million hits. He’s two weeks behind on the planned launch of another site — called herleague.net — that he envisions as a forum for women who love football, or else hate it, but want to discuss the game either way.
Small wonder he’s averaging two hours of sleep a night.
“That’s not a big deal,” Holloway said, “because I’m really looking forward to Saturday. It will be a chance to celebrate a lot of servicemen, like a big family gathering, which is why we got this house in the first place.”
Holloway is undaunted by how much work lies ahead, but acknowledged a little bit of him was wounded when he first learned of the party by seeing a photo of kids standing on a dining room table he bought with a Super Bowl bonus he collected as a member of the New England Patriots.
“It’s the exact same table that sits in one of the houses of the Kennedy family’s compound in Hyannis Port,” Holloway said.
“I got it partly because I had that Super Bowl money in my pocket. It’s how I rolled at the time. But mostly,” he added, “I got it because it reminded me how much I love being surrounded by family and friends.”
Holloway will know that feeling again Saturday, if only for as long as the party lasts. Then it’s back to work. Asked what people interested in helping might do, Hollowayurged parents and their kids to jump into the conversation about shared responsibilities.
“Just make sure everybody knows the event is ‘pot-luck,’” he said. “We got enough to take care of on this end already.”