NFL's Scarlet Letter: Michael Vick and Nine Other Heavily Stigmatized Players

Vaden ChandlerCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2011

NFL's Scarlet Letter: Michael Vick and Nine Other Heavily Stigmatized Players

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    It seems like every couple of years in the NFL, there is a big scandal that rocks the sporting community.

    A couple of years ago, it was Michael Vick and his horrible dog fighting ring. Last year, it was Ben Roethlisberger and his sexual assault allegations.

    As NFL fans, we all have a tendency to elevate professional athletes to almost god-like status. However, when a scandal like this occurs, we realize that they are human just like the rest of us and far from deity.

    With that sobering thought being said, here are 10 of the most stigmatized NFL athletes in the game today. 

10: Brett Favre

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    Brett Favre forever tarnished his legacy by being accused of sexual harassment by Jenn Sterger, a Jets broadcaster, in 2010.

    He reportedly left lewd voice mail messages and sent inappropriate photos to her cell phone.

    Although he was not found to be in conflict with the NFL's personal-conduct policies, he was eventually fined $50,000 for not cooperating fully with the investigation. 

9: Plaxico Burress

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    Plaxico's biggest brush with the law has been in regards to accidentally shooting himself with a Glock pistol at a New York-area nightclub.

    The gun, which was tucked in the waistband of his sweatpants, began sliding down his pant leg. When reaching for the gun, he accidentally depressed the trigger and shot himself.

    After being treated at New York's Presbyterian Hospital, NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg called for charges to be brought.

    Burress was later indicted by a grand jury and was eventually sentenced to 20 months in prison for the offense.

    He is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2011 and is considering a return to the NFL. 

8: Pacman Jones

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    Adam "Pacman" Jones' off-the-field issues are numerous.

    While still in college at West Virginia he was arrested for assault for getting into a fight in 2005. Later on that year, he was charged with violating his probation because he failed to report an arrest stemming from a nightclub altercation.

    In 2006, he was arrested for marijuana possession and disorderly conduct, and later on was convicted of misdemeanor assault for spitting in a woman's face at a Nashville nightclub.

    The kicker, however, was an incident during the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas. He reportedly got into an altercation with an exotic dancer and slammed her head against the stage. His entourage proceeded to get into a scuffle with the security guard and threatened his life.

    Later on, a member of his entourage came back to the club and fired a gun into the crowd. Obviously, the Clark County D.A. brought charges against him, which were later reduced in a plea deal.

    Needless to say, he was suspended for all of 2007 and much of the 2008 season because of this incident. 

7: Ben Roethlisberger

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    Although considered by many to be an elite NFL quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger also has a lot of skeletons in his closet.

    Although we will never really know what really transpired, he was accused of sexually assaulting a college student at a bar bathroom in Milledgeville, Ga., early last year.

    Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time that such accusations have dogged him. He was accused of similar offenses by a hotel employee in Lake Tahoe.  

6: Perrish Cox

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    Rookie Cornerback Perrish Cox of the Denver Broncos was arrested on a charge of sexual assault on the evening of Dec. 9, 2010, by Douglas County authorities.

    This was just one of many ordeals that the Broncos went through in the 2010 season, and the investigation is ongoing.  

5: Michael Vick

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    In August 2007 Michael Vick pleaded guilty to his involvement in the Bad Newz Kennels illegal dog-fighting operation.

    He was implicated along with five other individuals and was eventually suspended by the NFL indefinitely for his "cruel and reprehensible" treatment of the animals in question.

    To make matters worse, he also personally financed the gambling side of the ring as well.

    After serving 21 months in prison, Vick is now reinstated with the league and playing with the Eagles. 

#4: Jerramy Stevens

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    Jerramy Stevens makes the list above even Michael Vick and the others simply for the sheer number of legal issues he has had. Starting in 1998, he has done the following:

    1. In 1998 he was arrested for second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. He got into a fight with a 17 year old and two other witnesses, pulled a gun on them, and stomped on their face. He took a plea deal. 

    2. That same year he served a day in jail for possession of marijuana. 

    3. In 2000 he was arrested for sexual assault of a college student in Washington. While he claims that the encounter was consensual, the police were called by a witness because the female "appeared drugged." 

    4. In 2001 he was cited for reckless driving and hit and run after he crashed into a nursing home. 

    5. Received two DUI's in 2003 and 2007, serving a total of over two weeks in jail.

    6. Was reported on at least once in 2007 by the other residents of his condominium complex for various incidents of boorish and obnoxious behavior. 

    7. In 2010 was once again arrested for marijuana possession. 

    8. This past year was arrested for assaulting some bouncers in a bar. 

#3: Donte Stallworth

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    On March 14, 2009 Donte Stallworth was driving a Bentley GT Coupe and struck and killed a pedestrian in Miami Beach, FL. Stallworth admitted to heavy drinking the night before and was considered legally drunk at the time of the accident. He was eventually sentenced to 30 days in jail, lifetime suspension of his FL drivers license, and 8 years probation. He was suspended by Roger Goodell for all of the 2009 season. He now plays for the Ravens.  

#2: Ray Lewis

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    Ray Lewis was involved in a fight at a Super Bowl party in Atlanta after the victory of the St. Louis Rams in 2000. The fight resulted in the stabbing death of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The murder charge was later dropped in exchange for his testimony against his two accomplices, who were later also acquitted as well. Lewis reached a settlement with one of the surviving children of the victims in 2004. 

#1: Rae Carruth

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    Rae Carruth (CU Buffs)Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Really, you cannot get much worse than Rae Carruth. To make a long story short, he was accused of ambushing his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams, by blocking her and trapping her inside of her car while she was shot four times in Charlotte, NC in 1999. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and is scheduled to be released in 2018. 


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    So what is the point of writing an article about the various mis-deeds that have been committed, or allegedly committed, by NFL athletes in the past couple of years? There are several points to consider actually. Consider the following: 

    • 1. Although they have some serious talent, athletes are imperfect human beings just like we are.
    • 2. Athletes can be idolized for their accomplishments on the field, but they often have problems just as much as we do off the field. 
    • 3. When an athlete commits a crime, we are reminded that they are human.

    As someone who is studying to possibly become an ordained minister, I would remind the reader that we must remember that when an athlete commits a crime, we should pray for that person and practice forgiveness for the actions of that person while at the same time letting the justice system take its course for the offense committed.