While NFL players such as Ray Lewis, Darrell Russell and Jim Dunaway were accused of committing some pretty heinous crimes, they were never convicted of them. However, not all NFL players were as fortunate as those three, since dozens of them have been charged with and convicted of a wide variety of crimes. These range from speeding tickets and drinking and driving charges to drug trafficking, sexual assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, and serial killing.
Like all other walks of life, playing for an NFL team is a job or career. This means there will always be some bad apples among the bunch, just like any other profession. However, it’s usually hard for people to wrap their head around the fact that famous, well-paid athletes would jeopardize everything they’ve worked for by committing crimes. It appears that no matter how much money somebody may have, there’s a stronger motive at play when a crime takes place.
The list of current and former NFL players who have served or are serving jail time would definitely be longer if they hadn’t settled out of court though. This is often where their money can be swapped for their freedom. In addition, players found guilty of using drugs are often just suspended, fined, sent to rehab or released by their teams. This list of 15 NFL players who went to jail consists of some well known football stars and some you may have never heard of. Their sentences range from just a couple of years to life in prison with no parole. Perhaps the only thing they have in common is they were all NFL players at one point in their lives and have all been convicted and sent to prison for their actions.
16 Robert Rozier
Rozier, who also went by the alias Robert Ramses, played just half a dozen games in the NFL in 1979 when the St. Louis Cardinals released him as they suspected he was using drugs. Rozier ended up in Canada with the CFL for a year and served six months in jail for petty crime. He then joined up with a black supremacist religious cult called The Brotherhood in 1985. Rozier was told he had to kill a white devil and produce a body part to earn full membership. He was charged with murder in October of 1986 and admitted to killing seven people.
The serial killer received just a 22-year sentence as he agreed to testify against the cult’s leader. He was released in 1996 after serving just 10 years and his name was changed to Robert Ramses when he entered the witness protection program. In February of 1999 police busted him for passing a bum cheque and soon found out he had passed 29 of them. He was charged with a felony and convicted under America’s third-strike law. Rozier was sentenced from 25 years to life and is serving his time in California State Prison.
15 Dwayne Goodrich
Goodrich was a cornerback who played for the Dallas Cowboys from 2000 to 2002 after being drafted in the second round from Tennessee in 2000. He was involved in a hit-and-run car accident in January of 2003 in which two people died from their injuries. Goodrich was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and received a sentence of 12.5 years. He ended up serving about eight years of it before being released from prison in October of 2011.
14 Travis Henry
Travis Henry suited up for the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos during an NFL career that began in 2001 and ended in 2007. He was arrested just as the 2008 season was kicking off due to his part in a cocaine deal in Colorado. However, he wasn’t eligible to play in 2008 anyway since the NFL suspended him for a year for failing a drug test. Henry faced 10 years to life in prison for his drug trafficking bust, but was handed a three-year sentence in the summer of 2009 after making a plea bargain. He ended up serving 29 months of the 36-month sentence and the NFL lifted his suspension when he was released in August of 2012.
13 Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson
Henderson was a linebacker with the Dallas Cowboys between 1975 and 1980 and had played on a Super-Bowl winner and in a Pro Bowl game. He was released by Dallas and joined the Houston Oilers for six games before retiring in 1981 due to an injury he suffered while playing for the Miami Dolphins in the preseason. Henderson admitted to drug and alcohol problems as a player.
He was later convicted of sexual assault and bribery relating to an incident in November of 183 which involved two teenage girls. He had pleaded no contest to the charges, but was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. Henderson was released after serving 28 months in prison and eight months in rehab. Henderson said he was a changed man and literally hit the jackpot in 2000 when he won $28 million in the Texas State Lottery. He donated a lot of money to charity and now lectures across the nation against drug use.
12 Michael Vick
In Michael Vick’s case, he was found guilty of abusing animals rather than fellow humans. Vick was handed a 23-month sentence for conspiracy relating to dog fighting in 2007. He made it back to the NFL upon his release in 2009, but the Atlanta Falcons no longer wanted the quarterback and he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. He then joined the New York Jets in 2014 and is currently a free agent. Vick allegedly promoted and funded an illegal dog-fighting operation on his property and drowned and hanged dogs that didn’t fare too well.
11 Darryl Henley
Darryl Henley was a cornerback who was drafted in the second round by the former Los Angeles Rams in 1989. He played 76 games with the club between then and 1994. After that his troubles began. Henley is currently serving a 41-year sentence for drug trafficking and attempted conspiracy to commit murder. If all goes well, he’ll be released on March 28, 2031. Henley was found guilty of hiring contract killers to assassinate a witness and the judge of his drug-trafficking trial. The former All-American at UCLA had been known in drug use/trafficking circles. He was handed 20 years in 1995 on the drug charge and later had another 21 years tacked on for hiring a hit man.
10 Tommy Kane
Tommy Kane was a wide receiver with the Seattle Seahawks from 1988 to 1992. He then returned to his native Canada and played with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 1994. About a decade after retiring, Kane fatally stabbed his 35-year-old wife Tammara Shaikh in November of 2003. The murder took place at the home of his mother in Lasalle, Quebec after Kane and Shaikh had separated. Kane’s original charge was second-degree murder, but he was given a huge break when prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to manslaughter. Kane then received an 18-year sentence for the killing.
9 David Meggett
Former NFL’er David Meggett is serving a 30-year sentence after being convicted in 2010 in South Carolina for burglary and criminal sexual conduct. Meggett’s case involved assaulting a college student at her home in North Charleston a year earlier. Meggett was a punt returner and running back with the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets in a career that spanned from 1989 to 1998. Meggett’s lawyer claimed the football player and student engaged in consensual sex, but became embroiled in an argument later on. Meggett was arrested in 1998 in Toronto after he allegedly assaulted a female escort. He went to trial in April of 2000, but was released due to a hung jury. Also, Meggett was given two years of probation in 2007 for misdemeanor sexual battery.
8 Lawrence Phillips
Former running back Lawrence Phillips is currently serving a 31-year and four-month sentence for a 2005 incident in which he assaulted his girlfriend. The case also involved great bodily injury, corporal injury to spouse, vehicle theft, and false imprisonment. Shortly afterwards, he ran down three teenagers with his car following an argument at a youth football game. During Phillips’ junior season at college he was also charged with assaulting a girlfriend. His career began in 1996 with the St. Louis Rams and he also played with San Francisco and Miami. The Dolphins released him after policed charged him with assaulting a woman at a local nightclub. He ended up playing pro football in three different nations for a total of seven teams. Earlier in 2015, Phillips was the prime suspect in the murder of his cellmate Damion Soward at Kern Valley State Prison.
7 Ryan Leaf
Quarterback Ryan Leaf played four years in the NFL with San Diego, Dallas, Seattle and Tampa Bay from 1998 to 2002. Between March and May of 2012, he was busted on several drug and theft charges. He was found guilty in court and was handed a seven-year sentence in June of 2012. Leaf was on probation at the time as he was handed a 10-year probation sentence for drug infractions in 2010. He had problems in rehab and jail and was handed a five-year sentence in September of 2014, but given credit for time served. Luckily for Leaf, who was the second-overall draft pick in 1998, he was released from a Montana prison on December 3, 2014.
6 Cecil J. P. Collins
Collins was a running back who was drafted in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins back in 1999. He made eight appearances in the 1999 NFL season and looked to have a great future ahead of him. But in mid-December of that year he broke into the Florida home of a married woman that he had met earlier at a gym. Collins apparently didn’t assault the woman and said he just wanted to see her sleep. However, he was still handed a 15-year prison sentence in March of 2001 after being found guilty of burglary and wasn’t released until May of 2013. He was married in 2006 while still serving his sentence.
5 Rae Carruth
Wide receiver Rae Carruth also had a promising career ahead of him with the Carolina Panthers in the late 1990s after being a first-round draft pick in 1997. It all came to a crashing end though when he hired a buddy to kill a woman named Cherica Adams, who was pregnant at the time with Carruth’s child. Adams was shot four times in November of 1999 and died a month later. Fortunately, the baby survived the attack; however it was born with permanent brain damage. Carruth became a wanted man and like the coward he was, police found him hiding out in the trunk of his automobile. Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and in 2001 was handed a prison sentence of 13 to 24 years. His release date is October of 2018.
4 Keith Wright
Keith Wright was a defensive tackle who was selected in the sixth round of the 2003 draft by the Houston Texans. The Indianapolis Colts then signed him to their practice squad in November of 2003 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did the same thing a year later and he was also signed to practice squads by Arizona, Tampa and Detroit. He also spent a year in Germany with Hamburg and in total played in fewer than 10 NFL games between 1999 and 2002. Wright was arrested in August of 2012 for his connection with several home invasions and sexual assaults in Sacramento, California. Just three months later he was found guilty on 19 charges which included kidnapping, armed robbery, false imprisonment and first-degree burglary. He was then handed a stiff sentence of over 234 years in prison.
3 Eric Naposki
Eric Naposki was a linebacker who played with the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and the Barcelona Dragons from 1988 and 1997 and carved out a pretty successful career. About a dozen years after he retired though, in May of 2009, he was charged for a murder he committed while at this height of his football career in December of 1994. Naposki was charged with the death of Bill McLaughlin, who was the boyfriend of a woman named Nanette Johnston. Police said Naposki killed Bill McLaughlin in Newport Beach, California so Johnston could cash in on his life insurance policy. The former NFLer was found guilty of first-degree murder and handed a life sentence with no chance of parole in August of 2012.
2 Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez is the most recent addition to this list as he was sentenced in April of this year for first-degree murder. The former tight end of the New England Patriots was charged with killing Odin Lloyd in 2013. Lloyd was the boyfriend of Hernandez’s fiancée’s sister. Hernandez and a couple of accomplices picked the victim up at home and took him to an industrial park where he was shot half a dozen times. No murder weapon, witness, or motive was presented during the trial, but the jury was still given enough evidence to convict Hernandez.
Even though the football player’s lawyers argued that Hernandez only witnessed the killing, he was handed life in prison with no parole as his punishment. He’s also a prime suspect in a 2012 double murder in Boston as well as two other shootings. Hernandez’s NFL career kicked off in 2010 and ended in June of 2013 when New England released him following his arrest.
1 O.J. Simpson
Former NFL star running back O.J. Simpson is definitely the most recognizable name on this list. Simpson played from with the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers between 1969 and 1979 and made the headlines in 1994 when he was arrested for kidnapping and killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The subsequent car chase and trial was broadcast across the nation, but the former Heisman Trophy winner was found not guilty in October 1995. However, in a later trial in 1997, a civil court ordered Simpson to pay $33.5 million for the wrongful stabbing deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman.
Many people believe he got off scot-free with double homicide and then got his just desserts in September 2007 when he was charged with several felonies including armed robbery and kidnapping due to an incident involving guns at a Las Vegas hotel. He was found guilty the next year and handed a 33-year sentence with no parole for at least nine years. Since Simpson was acquitted in the deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman, many people aren’t surprised the case remains unsolved.