We live in an unjust world. We live in a world where the rich are afforded things that the less privileged are not. This is especially true when it comes to crime. Often times the rich and famous are given a slap on the wrist after being convicted of crimes that would have us regular people locked up. It's an unfair and baffling justice system.
The special treatment of the rich and famous can be extremely tough to stomach when it comes to professional sports. We have a special attachment to our sports teams and we fall in love with our favourite players. When one of those players commits a violent crime it becomes a difficult situation for us to comprehend. How can we still cheer, support, and buy the jersey of player who has done something horrific? How do we reconcile someone's performance on the field of play with the type of person they are off of it?
For some of us, the easy solution is to not think about it. We still cheer for our favorite players every chance we get and ignore they're personal troubles. That's part of the problem. If people with money are continuously lauded for being great at what they do with no consequences for their actual behaviour as a human being, how are we supposed to provoke change? If people believe they are allowed to do whatever they want as long as they have enough fame and fortune, then some people are going to continue to disregard basic human decency.
This list is made up of 15 athletes who allegedly committed various crimes and never received proper punishment. Many of these players simply resumed playing their sport and continued to be praised for being the best at what they do. Here are the top 15 athletes who should be in jail:
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15 Aldon Smith
Since being a 2011 first round draft pick, the former San Francisco 49ers defensive end has been arrested on driving under the influence charges on three separate occasions. In 2013, Smith was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon resulting from a 2012 party in which Smith was stabbed and two guests were shot. In 2014 Smith was arrested for making a bomb threat at Los Angeles International Airport, but those charges were ultimately dropped. The 49ers released Smith after his third DUI in August of 2015, which also included hit-and-run and vandalism charges. He is now playing for the Oakland Raiders.
14 14. Semyon Varlamov
In October of 2013 the Colorado Avalanche goaltender turned himself into police on charges of second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault. His then girlfriend alleged that a drunken Varlamov had kicked her to the ground, stomped on her, pulled her hair and told her that her beating would've been worse had they been in Russia.
Varlamov faced up to two years in prison, but the charges were dropped because prosecutors believed they couldn't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. She has since filed a civil lawsuit for multiple incidences of domestic assault and Varlamov continues to tend goal for the Avalanche.
13 Mike Ribeiro
In March of 2015, a former nanny of the Nashville Predators centreman filed a civil lawsuit against him in and his wife, claiming that Ribeiro had made unwanted sexual advances towards her dating back to 2007 and sexually assaulted her in 2012, just after she turned 18. She also alleged that Ribeiro admitted to the act in front of his wife and blamed it on his drinking problems. Ribeiro's wife was accused of being negligent in the matter. The two sides reached a settlement on July 6th - five days after Ribeiro signed a two year, $7 million contract extension with the Predators and was praised by general manager David Poile for being a "good teammate, a productive player".
12 Adam "Pacman" Jones
Pacman Jones was arrested eight times during his first eight years in the NFL, including several nightclub incidents. The most egregious of these events occurred in 2007 when he allegedly grabbed a stripper by the hair and slammed her head against the stage and threatened the life of a security guard. This resulted in the shooting of two security guards by a member of Jones' entourage, leaving one paralyzed from the waist down. Jones was ordered to pay $12.4 million to the victims for his role in the altercation.
His other crimes include two separate incidents of spitting in a woman's face, punching a woman in the face, and a fight with his own bodyguard. Jones received a year long suspension from the NFL in 2007 and also sat out the 2009 season, but he's never done any serious jail time and currently plays cornerback for the Cincinnati Bengals.
11 Slava Voynov
The Los Angeles Kings defenseman was charged with a felony count of "corporal injury to spouse with great bodily injury" in 2014. Voynov's wife alleged that he had punched her, pushed her to the ground, kicked her repeatedly, choked her three times, and pushed her into a flat screen TV. Voynov was immediately suspended by the NHL from all team activities, but the Kings tried to let him practice and were fined $100,000. Voynov originally pled not guilty and faced up to nine years in prison. He ultimately pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour and received 90 days in jail and three years probation. After being released from jail in September, Voynov was taken into custody by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and was facing deportation but chose to return to his native Russia on his own.
10 Ahmad Brooks
The San Francisco 49ers linebacker was investigated in 2013 for the assault of his teammate, Lamar Divens, which allegedly included repeatedbly striking Divens over the head with a beer bottle. Ultimately no charges were filed. In August, Brooks was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery after being accused of groping the same woman his former teammate, Ray McDonald, is accused of raping. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and continues playing for the 49ers.
9 Greg Hardy
The former Carolina Panthers defensive end was arrested in May of 2014 on charges of assault on a female and communicating threats involving his then girlfriend. Among the allegations, Hardy was accused of threatening to kill her, choking her, dragging her across the floor and throwing her on a couch covered in assault rifles. Hardy was convicted and sentenced to 18 months probation, but he appealed the conviction and after his accuser failed to show up at the appeal trial, prosecutors dropped the charges amid “reliable information” that the two sides had reached a civil settlement.
After serving a four game suspension from the NFL, Hardy returned with the Dallas Cowboys for Week 5 of this season and immediately showed he still had no regard for women's rights, making jokes about guns and other football players' wives.
8 Ray McDonald
The 49ers released the defensive lineman in December of 2014 after it was reported that he was being investigated for sexual assault. In March of 2015 McDonald was signed by the Chicago Bears, but subsequently released in May after he was arrested on domestic violence and child endangerment charges - his second arrest for domestic violence within nine months. In August he was indicted on one count of rape of an intoxicated person for the December sexual assault. In the civil lawsuit filed against McDonald and Ahmad Brooks, the alleged victim claims she slipped and fell on a pool deck at McDonald's home and continued to slip and fall due to her head injury and alcohol consumption. She alleges that McDonald didn't call 911 because he originally thought she was dead and didn't want a dead woman found at his home. She claimed she was later groped by Brooks and carried upstairs by McDonald where the sexual assault took place.
7 Adrian Peterson
In 2014, Peterson was indicted on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after beating his four-year-old son with a tree branch, leaving injuries to the boy's thighs, back, buttocks, genitals and hands. According to police reports, the boy told authorities “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face” and had also hit him with a belt. The boy also told his mother that Peterson "has a whooping room.” Peterson faced up to two years in prison, but reached a plea agreement in which he pleaded no contest and was put on probation, fined $4,000, and given 80 hours of community service. Now Peterson is back playing with the Minnesota Vikings, where he is applauded for being one of the game's top running backs.
6 Ben Roethlisberger
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has been accused of sexual assault on two separate occasions. In 2009 a woman filed a civil lawsuit against Roethlisberger, claiming he sexually assaulted her in a hotel room in Lake Tahoe. The two sides eventually reached a settlement. In 2011 Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman in a nightclub restroom in Milledgeville, Georgia. The charges were dropped because, despite visible injuries to the alleged victim, the prosecution believed they couldn't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The accuser also no longer wished to prosecute due to the amount of media scrutiny she would receive. Roethlisberger was suspended four games by the NFL following the second case before resuming his football career.
5 Ray Rice
The former Baltimore Ravens running back and his fiancee at the time (she's now his wife), Janay Palmer, were both arrested on charges of assault following a drunken incident in a casino elevator in Atlantic City in February of 2014. Video surveillance showed that Rice punched Palmer and then dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator. Rice was indicted on third degree aggravated assault charges and the charges against Palmer were dropped. However, the charges against Rice were dropped after he completed a pretrial intervention program that included anger management counselling and a $125 fine.
Rice was originally only suspended two games by the NFL, but after a full video of the incident was released by TMZ, the league announced a new policy against domestic abuse and suspended Rice indefinitely, while the Ravens released Rice from his contract. Rice was eventually reinstated by the NFL, but has yet to resume his playing career.
4 Floyd Mayweather
Mayweather has been charged and convicted multiple times for domestic violence against multiple women. The only conviction that led to any jail time came in 2011 when Mayweather pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor battery domestic violence and no contest to two counts of harassment after attacking the mother of three of his children, targeting the back of her head to avoid leaving bruises. He served 60 days of a 90 day jail sentence before being released. Somehow this serial abuser of women continues to make $100 million per boxing match.
3 Patrick Kane
In 2009 the Chicago Blackhawks star winger was charged for assaulting a cab driver following a dispute over 20 cents. In 2012 an intoxicated Kane was kicked out of a frat party in Madison, Wisconsin after several witnesses saw him attempt to choke a woman. Currently, Kane is being investigated for rape, allegations of which the Blackhawks and NHL have basically stuck their heads in the sand and said they don't really care. Patrick Kane has caused so much trouble when under the influence of alcohol that for the past five years he has employed an off-duty police officer to chauffeur him around his hometown of Buffalo during the offseason.
2 Kobe Bryant
In 2003, Bryant was arrested on charges of sexual assault stemming from an encounter with a 19-year-old hotel employee in Eagle, Colorado. Bryant admitted to a sexual encounter with the woman but maintained that it was consensual. The charges were dropped because, as in many cases of sexual assault, Bryant's accuser refused to testify in court. She filed a separate civil lawsuit against Bryant, which the two sides ultimately settled. After the charges were dropped, Bryant released a statement apologizing to his accuser and her family and said, ""Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did." Kobe Bryant's basketball career resumed and in 2004 he signed a seven year, $136 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers.
1 Ray Lewis
Following a 2000 Super Bowl party in Atlanta a fight broke out that resulted in the stabbing deaths of two men. Ray Lewis and two others were indicted on murder charges for their involvement. Blood from one of the victims was found in the linebacker's limousine and the white suit Lewis wore that night disappeared. Lewis reached a plea agreement in which the murder charges against him were dropped and he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in exchange for testimony against his two companions. Lewis refused to directly implicate the two in the murders, only testifying that they had purchased knives from a sporting goods store the day before.
We don't know to what extent Lewis was involved in those murders and we may never know for sure what happened that night, but here is what he do know: two people's lives were taken from them and their families have never received justice. Ray Lewis was involved, one way or another, and has allowed the perpetrators of that crime to walk free. For that Ray Lewis is the number one athlete who should be in jail. Instead he was commended for helping the Baltimore Ravens win two Super Bowls and currently works as an NFL analyst for ESPN.
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