Football has probably spawned more spectacular falls from grace than any other sport. Indeed, the history of the NFL is littered with heroes turned villains thanks to players’ infamous behavior off the field. Here’s a look at 20 you certainly won’t be seeing in any halls of fame.
20. Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez spent three years with the New England Patriots before being arrested for the homicide of semi-professional footballer Odin Lloyd in 2013. What’s more, the tight end was also charged with the murders of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu in 2014. A year later, Hernandez was found guilty of murdering Lloyd, though he is still awaiting trial for the double homicide. He’s currently serving a life sentence without parole at a correctional center in Massachusetts.
19. Eric Naposki
Joining Hernandez on the worryingly long list of NFL murderers is Eric Naposki, the one-time Barcelona Dragons and New England Patriots star. Naposki was convicted of killing Bill McLaughlin in a life insurance scam, which he carried out with the victim’s girlfriend, Nanette Johnston. Eventually, both Naposki and Johnston were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012. Their convictions, however, came nearly 20 years after the killing had taken place.
18. Lawrence Phillips
Lawrence Phillips enjoyed several seasons in both the NFL and the Canadian Football League. However, an extensive criminal record ensured that he made the front pages of the news far more than the sports section. Indeed, while serving jail time for both driving his car into a group of teens and a domestic assault case involving his former girlfriend, the former running back was charged with murdering his cellmate. While awaiting trial in 2016, however, Phillips hanged himself in his cell.
17. Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Taylor is hailed as one of the greatest NFL stars of all time. But sadly, the former New York Giants linebacker tainted his career and reputation with numerous criminal activities. Indeed, as well as receiving jail sentences on three separate occasions for attempted drug possession, Taylor pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct in 2011 when it was discovered that he had had sex with a 16-year-old girl.
16. Dave Meggett
One of Taylor’s former New York Giants teammates likewise got into trouble with the law – for truly awful offences. Running back Dave Meggett, who also played for the New York Jets and New England Patriots, was sentenced to three decades behind bars after being found guilty of raping and robbing a woman in Charleston, South Carolina.
15. Darryl Henley
Serving an even longer prison sentence is former cornerback Darryl Henley, who took to the field with the Los Angeles Rams in 76 games during the late ’80s and early ’90s. However, Henley was jailed for 41 years after he hired hit men to murder a judge and witness from a separate trial in which he was convicted of smuggling cocaine.
14. Jovan Belcher
Jovan Belcher left the footballing world stunned in 2012 when he murdered his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, in front of his own mother. On the same day, moreover, he drove to the Kansas City Chiefs’ training ground and fatally shot himself in the head. The star was spending his third season with the NFL team, having previously excelled at the University of Maine’s football team, the Maine Black Bears.
13. Robert Rozier
Ex-St. Louis Cardinals player Robert Rozier has one of the NFL’s most disturbing rap sheets. After being ejected from the team for suspected narcotics abuse, Rozier took up with a black supremacist cult. And it was, as he later confessed, during his time with this group that he killed seven people. He was only sentenced to ten years in jail, having given evidence against the group’s leader. However, Rozier was later hit with a further 25 years under a third strike law.
12. Dwayne Goodrich
Just a year before losing his own brother in a motorcycle accident, Dwayne Goodrich killed two people in a hit-and-run on a North Dallas freeway. The victims, who at the time were reportedly helping a man escape from a flaming vehicle, were hit at 54 mph by the former Dallas Cowboys star. Goodrich, consequently, was later sent down for 90 months.
11. Thomas Henderson
Underage sex and drugs proved to be the downfall of former Dallas Cowboys star Thomas Henderson. The three-time Super Bowl winner spent eight months in rehab and over two years in prison after he pleaded no contest to charges of trading drugs for consensual sex with two underage girls. Henderson has since claimed that he’s spent the last three decades clean and sober.
10. Anthony Smith
One-time Oakland Raiders defensive end Anthony Smith, meanwhile, actually became a serial killer after leaving the NFL. Currently serving triple life sentences, Phillips was found guilty of kidnapping, torturing and murdering two brothers and killing another man in a separate incident. What’s more, he was also accused of killing a fourth person over a botched business deal, but jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case.
9. C.J. Spillman
C.J. Spillman became one of the star men in the San Francisco 49ers’ special teams unit during his three-year spell with the NFL side. But after him being transferred to the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, his promising career was cut short in the most troubling of ways. Yes, Spillman was sent down for five years after being found guilty of sexual assault.
8. Nate Webster
Ex-linebacker Nate Webster is currently serving a 12-year jail sentence, having been found guilty on four counts of illegal sexual activity with a minor. The victim was the child of a former assistant coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, one of three NFL teams that Webster played for. And the girl, who was 15 at the time of the offence, also asserted that Webster had threatened to kill her and her loved ones if she told anybody about his conduct.
7. Kevin Allen
Philadelphia Eagles tackle Kevin Allen had only been playing in the NFL for one season before he fell foul of the law. Indeed, he received a lifetime ban following a rape charge which also saw him spend 33 months in prison. Unlike many on this list, however, Allen actually managed to resume his football career after his release. Indeed, when the ban was lifted, he went on to sign for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Orlando Thunder.
6. Rae Carruth
Rae Carruth has spent the majority of this century in jail after being convicted of plotting to kill a woman whom he’d been casually dating and who was also pregnant with his baby. The woman in question, real estate agent Cherica Adams, died after being shot four times by an acquaintance of the former Carolina Panthers wide receiver in 1999. In her dying moments, however, Adams was able to tell the police who was responsible for the shooting.
5. Darren Sharper
Darren Sharper enjoyed a glittering career with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. And not only that, but he was also chosen for the Pro Bowl on five occasions as well as making the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. However, in 2016 his reputation was destroyed forever when he was handed a two-decade jail sentence. This was down to the fact that he admitted to numerous drug-related and rape offences.
4. Keith Wright
In what is surely the longest prison term ever handed out to an NFL star, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Keith Wright was given an astonishing 234 years and eight months in 2012. Indeed, the one-time defensive tackle will surely spend the rest of his life in jail after being convicted of numerous sexual assaults and break-ins that took place in Sacramento.
3. Michael Vick
Responsible for perhaps the most bizarre criminal activity ever carried out by an NFL star, Michael Vick was jailed for 21 months for operating a dog-fighting racket. Worryingly, the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback had promoted and funded the ring on his own property for five years before it was discovered by police. Unlike many on this list, however, Vick resumed his football career after serving jail time.
2. Tommy Kane
Tommy Kane spent four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before moving to the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts in 1994. Nearly a decade later, however, Kane – who was suffering acute depression at the time – was convicted of manslaughter after killing his wife. What’s more, the ex-wide receiver had previously been found guilty of assaulting a police officer. Subsequently, he was sentenced to 18 years in jail for stabbing his wife to death.
1. O.J. Simpson
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the most notorious NFL star-turned-criminal of all time. Yes, former Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson became a tabloid sensation in the mid-’90s when he was charged with – and acquitted of – murdering his former wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ron Goldman. Justice was then deemed to have been belatedly served when, over a decade later, he was jailed for 33 years for various offences, including kidnapping and armed robbery.