Matt Sinclair faces gun charges

URBANA, Ill. -- University of Illinois football staff member and former NFL player Matt Sinclair was charged Monday with two felonies after allegedly pointing an unloaded handgun at a vehicle carrying other staff members, authorities said.

Sinclair was arraigned on two felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon, Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said. The 31-year-old Champaign resident was arrested Saturday as he drove his truck home from Illinois' game at Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.

Someone called police around 4 p.m. Saturday to report a driver pointing a gun out of a truck on Interstate 74 in eastern Illinois.

After police arrested Sinclair a short time later in Urbana, "(Sinclair) told them it was a joke," Rietz said.

A phone listing for Sinclair is disconnected, and he does not yet have a lawyer.

Police said they also found a set of brass knuckles in the truck and a loaded magazine for the gun. Rietz said Sinclair also was charged with a misdemeanor related to the brass knuckles.

Illinois football coach Tim Beckman said in an emailed statement that Sinclair "clearly had a lapse in judgment after returning to Champaign-Urbana on Saturday," but declined further comment.

Sinclair was hired in April as Illinois' assistant director of player personnel and relations.

The St. Louis native played at Illinois from 2001 to 2004, including three seasons as a starting linebacker. He then played several seasons in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins.

Sinclair pleaded guilty in Champaign County in 2004 to misdemeanor battery and spent a year on probation.