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Killers, Katonah, and College Football

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Murder Update 

Q: All of the publicity around the New England Patriots and Aaron Hernandez’s murder trial got me thinking about Eric Naposki, the NFL player [from Tuckahoe] who was sentenced to life in prison after killing a girlfriend’s other boyfriend. Any chance of him getting out?

—Pete Falkin, Thornwood

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A: Tuckahoe’s Eric Naposki was a star football player from the time he began playing for the Eastchester Blue Devils in the Pop Warner youth league. He went to three county high schools: Tuckahoe, Yonkers, and Eastchester, and he was named All County in 1982. He played football at the University of Connecticut before leaving amid a dispute with the head coach. After stints with the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, he wound up playing for the Barcelona Dragons of the now-defunct World League of American Football.

In 1994, Naposki murdered his lover’s boyfriend so she could receive his life-insurance benefits. Naposki and Nanette Johnston were having an affair at the time, and the prosecution portrayed Johnston as a money-hungry seductress. The case went unsolved until 2009, when, after painstakingly reviewing interview tapes and learning information from a new witness, an investigator found some discrepancies in Naposki’s testimony. He was arrested and convicted of murder with special circumstances (murder for hire) and was sentenced to life without parole.

Naposki’s appeal was denied in 2014, and today he is serving a life sentence in the Corcoran State Prison in California.

 

No One Owns Katonah

Q: What’s the deal with the Martha Stewart Katonah Collection? I thought I read that the town sued to prevent her from using the name, but I see you can still buy Katonah Collection furniture.

—Linda Smart, Bedford

 

A: Back in 2005, when Martha got out of the pokey and settled into her $16 million Katonah home to finish up her sentence on house arrest, she developed a home furnishings line. Her estate had attracted lots of press, and she sought to name her new line “Katonah,” presumably to connote the charm of the lovely hamlet.

Martha’s attempt to trademark the Katonah name felt a little icky to many residents and civic leaders, not to mention descendants of Chief Katonah, for whom the hamlet is named. In 2007, the Katonah Village Improvement Society filed objections to the trademark and began a “No One Owns Katonah” campaign.

Martha, who recently inked a deal to sell her empire for $200 million, claimed she was merely honoring her hometown and wasn’t seeking to exploit it for financial gain. After much back and forth, Stewart’s people settled out of court and agreed to limit the Katonah brand to furniture and a few other furnishings. 

 

Missing Football

Q: I am originally from Alabama where college football is a way of life. Why isn’t there any decent college football in this area? 

—Scott Pellwater, Ossining

 

A: First of all, Army Black Knights, West Point’s football team, is Division I, and they play in arguably one of the best environments for college sports. 

Second, permit me to challenge your concept of “decent” college football. Some of our local colleges play Division II and III football, and though it isn’t the same as what y’all are used to, those players actually attend college classes while participating. There’s something a bit charming about that, isn’t there? 

Finally, Alabama’s budget for football exceeds $100 million. The Southeastern Conference signed a $2.25 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) contract with ESPN to broadcast their games, and Alabama shares in that cash. That’s a lot of money to support big-time sports—money that’s not floating around in this county for football.

In the end, it’s probably a matter of priorities and economics. The University at Buffalo’s football program costs the college about $6.7 million per year, and 62 percent of that comes from student fees. Perhaps that $4 million could be used for something else, like scholarships for students, research endowments, or support for the arts.

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