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Willie McGinest is Facing Two Felony Charges and Serious Jail Time for That Attack in a Crowded Restaurant

Christopher Polk. Getty Images.

It's been 2 1/2 months since the video came out that for all the world appeared to show Patriots team Hall of Famer brutally assaulting a guy in a crowded restaurant:

Maybe at some point in my life I'd find it impossible to believe that a great player, three time Super Bowl champion and the NFL's all time leader in postseason sacks would be capable of a wanton, reckless, senseless act of violence in front of dozens of eyewitnesses. But that was a long time ago. About 150 arrests ago, just to take a rough guess.

And all we've heard since is he's been taken off NFL Network and this vague sort of non-denial denial from Big Willie Style himself:

But as they say, the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. And they've ground this incident down into a couple of exceedingly serious charges for McGinest:

Source - TMZ Sports has learned the ex-NFL star has just been charged with two felonies.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office filed the charges this week … hitting the New England Patriots legend with one count of assault with a deadly weapon, and one count of assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury.

Each charge carries up to four years in prison.

McGinest's arraignment in the case has been set for April. …

McGinest was initially arrested in the case back in late December … after video showed him and several others beating the hell out of a man on Dec. 9 at Delilah in West Hollywood.

The footage appears to show McGinest socking the guy in the face … before later picking up a bottle and smashing it into the man's head.

McGinest eventually apologized for his role in the brawl -- calling everything a "lapse in judgment and behavior."

I think we can all agree that yes, sucker-punching a guy in the face and then caving his skull in with a bottle in the middle of a packed house at Delilah's - people minding their own business trying to impress their dates with some Squash Strozzapreti ($29) and Arctic Char with shaved fennel, arugula, red onion and blood orange ($42) in the hope of maybe setting a road handie on the ride home - does constitute a "lapse in judgment and behavior." Especially for a 51 year old sports legend with a great TV gig. 

Whatever his beef with this guy (the beef at Delilah's includes a Waygu Hanger Steak for $61), this was the perfect setting for using your words. Or at least taking it outside. Better yet, ignoring the guy altogether and going back to your excellent life of comfort, job security and celebrity. Basically any approach other than beating a man senseless on camera like he was Peyton Manning holding the ball in the pocket during the 2003 AFC championship game would've been preferable. 

Let me go no further without issuing all the disclaimers about, these counts just being accusations, using the word "allegedly," working in the phrases "innocent until proven guilty," and "McGinest's day in court" and all that. Then state the painfully obvious: That it looks like the state of California has a hell of a case here. It's going to take all the powers of a Matlock to get a Not Guilty on this one, once the jury sees the video. And not only is a potential eight years in jail a scary proposition, even if he gets less time or no time at all, being convicted of a felony is a real gamechanger. Every state is different, but in most, a convicted felon loses a lot of his legal rights:  "The rights most often curtailed include the right to vote and hold public office, employment rights, domestic rights, and financial and contractual rights." Good luck getting invited back on Good Morning Football to talk about the best landing spots for Derek Carr when you can't even vote in your local school committee elections. 

All of which is a good incentive to not roll up with your crew into a fancypants restaurant and start taking bottles to craniums. Allegedly. Find some other way to iron out your differences. Because whatever those differences were with the victim in this one, this was a very expensive solution for McGinest, no matter how it plays out.