NFL + Jail = ?
As it happens throughout the year, various NFL players have run afoul of the law. How the NFL owners, fans, and players have treated them has always been varied. Let's take a trip back through memory lane and see what happened...if only to remember, or to keep in context the punishments of future players...
Arrested and sentenced to 23 months in August 2007 for running a dog-fighting organization. Released summer of 2009 and signed to a contract by the Eagles in August 2009.
Professional Outlook - in line to get a chance to start for an NFL franchise, possibly in 2010.
Personal Outlook - Vick has a long history of off the field troubles ranging from marijuana, to the herpes-related Ron Mexico. But I believe he's finally matured and is ready to become the man he should have been years ago.
Convicted and sentanced to 30 days in jail for running over and killing a man while drunk. Served 24 days. The NFL suspended him for one year. He has been reinstated and released.
Professional Outlook: the 13th overall pick in 2002, Stallworth never became anything more than a deep threat with questionable hands. However, teams love speed and Stallworth may yet again get another look. Although running a person over is an asterisk next to your name that most owners don't like. The fact he signed a big contract with the Patriots, who gave up on him after a year; then the Browns, where he caught a whopping 17 passes all year, should tell you he's not much of a player.
Personal Outlook: The fact he was drunk, but remembers flashing his lights at the guy before hitting him tells you all you need to know.
After a brilliant rookie year, the #27 overall pick in 1997 Sentenced to 18-24 years in jail for conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child for his involvement of the murder of his girlfriend.
Professional Outlook: Carruth is eligible for release in October, 2018. He will be 44 years old. I'd say it's over.
Personal Outlook: The NFL, and the world, are better off with Rae in prison.
While Chris Henry only served 2 days of a 90 day sentance, his litany of arrests and violations is immense. Constantly suspended and reinstated, Henry was a poster child for law-breaking NFL players and second, third, and fourth chances. The 3rd round pick showed the talent to be a valuable receiving threat for the Bengals, a fact that saved his career time and time again. He died after falling out of a moving pickup truck, while arguing with his girlfriend.
Professional Outlook: While there is no doubt the Bengals were better with Henry on the field, his death will prevent him from playing in future NFL games.
Personal Outlook: Henry epitomized everything that has been wrong with the Bengals over the years. Seeing as how the Bengals had a stretch of 14 players arrested in 10 months, the signing/suspending/waiving/resigning of Henry says it all. The only tragedy here is how Coach Lewis keeps his job and puts the fans through all this. Poor Cinncy has been dragged through the mud so long, they should be called the Pigs.
A 2nd round pick in the 2004 draft, defensive tackle known as "Tank" has had his share of off-field troubles, yet continues playing. Reported involvement with guns, drugs, nefarious characters that led to the death of his friend and bodyguard, etc. would seem more like a movie plot than true life. However, despite all his transgressions, his coaches and teammates visited him in jail and supported him. Dallas signed him after the Bears finally couldn't take anymore, even though he had to serve an 8 game suspension first. The Cowboys released him, and he was picked up by the Bengals.
Professional Outook: Tank has kept his nose clean the last couple years, and seems to be a victim of the people around him, even if he lacks the strength the shake the parasites off him. Only 28, he has a chance to continue playing and being productive for years to come.
Personal Outlook: The fact that he's been trouble-free the last couple years would make one believe that he's finally "grown-up" and is ready to play ball. If that's true, then I wish him the best and I can only hope he'll help keep other younger players clean.
A 5th round pick of Miami in 1999, the Diesel was a wrecking crew in college, and off-the field issues caused his stock to drop before Miami took a chance on him. He appeared in 8 games and rushed for 414 yards and 2 TDs his rookie year before his arrest.
In December of 1999 he broke into a woman that he had seen at the gym's apartment, reportedly to "watch her sleep". He was sentenced to 15 years, but is eligible for release in 2014. There is still a chance the State of Louisiana has additional charges for him when he is released.
Professional Outlook: He'll be 40 when he gets out, and it's highly unlikely he'll be seen in a football uniform again.
Personal Outlook: Thankfully he didn't kill anyone, but the notion that it's ok to break into a married woman's house to watch her sleep is outright creepy. Let's hope the time in jail changes his perspective on life.
1999 Defensive MVP Dwayne Goodrich was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2000 draft to solve their cornerback woes. He played 2 years before a tragic day in January of 2003 left 2 people dead. Goodrich struck and killed two motorists who were trying to help get a man out of a burning car. While the police report said that Goodrich had to be going over 100 mph, the accident investigator decided it was more like 54 mph. He was not found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Regardless, he was charged with 2 counts of criminally negligent homicide and sentanced to 7 1/2 years in prison. It is noted that the victims' families seemed to understand it was a tragic accident and openly forgave Goodrich.
Professional Outlook: While he was originally set to be released in 2010, in 2006 the families fought and successfully added 5 years to the term. He would then be roughly 38 years old, and it is safe to say, his career is over.
Personal Outlook: The tear-jerking scene in the courtroom where the sole-surviving victim shook Goodrich's hand and forgave him will always be a great moment. It's sad that Goodrich's accident gave him 12 1/2 years in prison, while an intoxicated Stallworth kills a man and serves 24 days.
Jamal Lewis was the 5th overall pick in 2000 by the Ravens. A powerful, record setting back, Lewis was charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine and using a cell phone in the commission of the first count. He served 4 months, and continued his great play. Noteworthy is the fact that it appeared to be a wake-up call, and where many players keep on risking it all, Lewis kept his focus on football built up a legacy as a powerful runner, as opposed to repeat offender and "what if".
Professional Outlook: Lewis announced he was retiring at the end of the 2009 season, and appears to be staying retired. I would not rule out him returning to a team in need of a second back, as he still has the ability to share a load and be effective.
Personal Outlook: Jamal has been a role-model player as of late, and appears to have his head on straight. The fact he is willing to retire early and focus on other parts of his life would make one think that he's a mature person and one can only hope he continues this in his post-playing life.
Another monster back, Morris was drafted in the third round of the 1994 draft by the Steelers. He played for 4 NFL teams from 94-99, displaying a powerful running style that few defenders will forget. However, after several drug-related incidents, Morris was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2000. He was released in 2004. In 2006, he signed a contract with the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators, but never played a down, as he was reinstated to the NFL as well, and hoped to catch on with an NFL team. He then signed with the Katy Copperheads of the Indoor Football League.
Professional Outlook: Bam is 38 now, and has worn his welcome out in the NFL.
Personal Outlook: Hopefully Bam has put his past behind him, and can focus on repairing his image. He was a well-liked player by the fans during his best years, and only time will tell how he is remembered.
A surprise 7th round pick turned superstar of the Giants in 2007, Ahmad Bradshaw proved to be a dangerous weapon in the Giant's backfield to go along with huge powerback Brandon Jacbos. Ahmad is an example of your past coming back to haunt you. Charged with violations of parole stemming from juvenile incidents, Ahmad had to serve 2 30-day sentences. The case files are closed, but Ahmad has no objections to the sentencing.
"It doesn't matter if you're Joe the milkman, or whoever," said Bradshaw. "Regardless of whether you go to the Super Bowl, or not, you've got to learn from your mistakes. You'll get punished for them."
Professional Outlook: Bradshaw will again be the lightning-quick weapon to team with Jacobs, and is expected to again be a force with the Giants.
Personal Outlook: Humble and honest, it is expected that Bradshaw will move on from his past troubles and be a good player and even better person in the NFL as the seasons roll on.
Wrapping it all up
While the list of NFL players who have been to jail is long and storied, I tried to put out those who served while still viable players - as opposed to the list of retired players like Jimmy Smith, O.J. Simpson, Warren Sapp, Nate Newton, etc., or the many who have been in trouble but able to skirt the jail time again and again, like David Boston and Ray Lewis. I think the cases of Goodrich and Stallworth bear particular interest, but it is up to the reader to decide what was incidental, or monumental - which players are forgiven, and which are forever vilified.