The NFL draft has gone by and teams are one step closer to training camp. We may be months away from the preseason but that isn’t going to stop anyone from talking about their favorite teams and players. The NFL can be a violent sport, however, within that violence, a beautiful and magnificent game is being played. Whether it’s a breathtaking pass from the quarterback to the receiver or a clean tackle that stops the ball at the one-yard line, football can be as graceful as a ballet but also as ugly as a war zone.
With that ugly violence comes players who were born in it, molded by it, and that system can take a toll on a man. We’re not suggesting the NFL should be banned nor do we think the majority of the league is full of nut cases, however, you can’t ignore the relationship between the physical sport and violence off the field. With new studies surrounding chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), it’s quite possible that many of the athletes on this list suffer from the disease. Allegedly, CTE can make a person in his prime have a brain of a senior citizen with dementia.
With that in mind, remember that even though most of these guys deserve their punishment, they also grew up in a system that pays them to inflict damage on another person.
15 Michael Vick
He didn’t kill any humans but Michael Vick does have the blood of dogs on his hands. Michael Vick was a God at one point in the NFL. He would be claimed by the Atlanta Falcons with the first pick in the 2001 NFL draft. His ability to run on his own as well as throw the long ball made him one of the biggest threats on the field. His stellar career came crashing down when he was busted for operating a dog fighting ring in 2007.
You would think a multi-million dollar athlete that has everyone eating out of the palm of their hand wouldn’t be caught up in anything that can potential ruin his or her lifestyle, however, Vick was knee deep in illegal activity. He would plead guilty for his involvement in the mistreatment of dogs and spend 21 months in a federal prison before coming back to the league.
14 Jim Dunaway
Jim Dunaway was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the ninth pick in the 1963 AFL draft. He would be a star in the league before it merged with the NFL. His football career lasted until 1972 and was a member of the Miami Dolphins Super Bowl VII championship team. Many decades later, Dunaway’s ex-wife, Nonniel Dunaway, was found dead with a fractured skull in a half-empty swimming pool.
Jim wouldn’t be indicted for the murder charge, however, his children filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming he was responsible for their mother’s death. If you didn’t know, a dead person can’t bring a suit under common law, however, a claim can be brought to civil action by close relatives of the victim. Dunaway would be found liable and paid $579,000 to his children.
13 Donte Stallworth
Donte Stallworth is the perfect example of a journeyman in the NFL. From 2002 to 2013, he played for seven teams. The New Orleans would pick him thirteenth overall in the first round of the 2002 NFL draft. The wide receiver would post 321 receptions, 4,837 yards, and 35 touchdowns in his career.
In 2009, Stallworth killed Mario Reyes while driving his car in Miami Beach, Florida. Police said Stallworth had been intoxicated at the time and Reyes was not in the crosswalk at the time of impact. He would be charged with a DUI manslaughter and as a result of a plea deal, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 1,000 hours of community service, and 8 years probation.
12 Anthony Smith
Anthony Smith is one of the highest draft picks out of the former NFL players on this list. He would be drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders eleventh overall in the first round. The defensive end would opt out of his new $7.6 million contract extension in 1997 and never return to the game. Some may have scratched their heads as to why Smith would abandon such a comfy contract but how can anyone understand someone who isn’t right in the head?
Smith would be charged with the 2008 murder of Maurilio Ponce in 2011. While awaiting retrial in 2012, Smith was charged with three other murders. After years of an intense battle in court, Smith was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the murders of Ricky and Kevin Nettles and Dennis Henderson in 2016.
11 Jeremiah Parker
After being picked by the New York Giants in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL draft, Jeremiah Parker would play just four games for the G-Men. The former defensive end would sustain his injury his rookie year before being charged in the death of his ex-girlfriend’s 4-year-old son. In 2003, he would receive ten years for his role in the untimely death of the child. Parker allegedly hit the boy regularly and even placed him in a refrigerator as punishment on one occasion.
A medical examiner proved the boy had belt marks, a broken rib, head trauma, and more than a dozen bite marks at the time of his death. The mother of the child was the one who inflicted head trauma that would result in his death in 2001 but that didn’t stop the court from going after the abusive Parker as well.
10 Leonard Little
The former defensive end was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 1988 NFL draft. Little’s best achievement in the NFL was helping the St. Louis Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV. He would make All-Pro honors in 2003 and ended his career with 87.5 sacks. Before his achievements in the NFL, Little was involved in a motor vehicle accident in 1998.
He would crash his car and unfortunately killed Susan Gutweiler. Little would have a blood alcohol level measurement of 0.19 percent which is higher than the statutory level of intoxication in the state of Missouri. The defender would be sentenced to four years’ probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Little wouldn’t learn his lesson about drinking and driving and was charged with driving while intoxicated in 2004.
9 Tommy Kane
Tommy Kane had a four-year career with the Seattle Seahawks from 1988 to 1992 before retiring from the game. The wide receiver would be drafted by the Seahawks in the third round of the 1988 NFL draft and post decent numbers in his tenure with the team. He would produce 142 receptions, nine touchdowns, and 2,034 yards in his career. In 2003, Kane would kill his wife, Tamara Shaikh, in his mother’s house.
The couple had recently separated and Kane couldn’t handle the situation. Shaikh tried to get him into rehab, he didn't like the act of kindness so he stabbed and beat her to death. Kane pleaded guilty to manslaughter after originally being charged with second-degree murder and is currently serving an 18-year sentence. The prosecutors reduced the years on his sentence when they took his depression into account.
8 Josh Brent
Josh Brent was acquired by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2010 Supplemental draft. In the four seasons he played in the NFL, Brent would become a backup and produced 44 tackles on defense. In 2012, Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter after a motor vehicle accident. The victim was Brent’s teammate, Jerry Brown, who was in the passenger seat at the time of the crash.
After a year of litigation, Brent was found guilty of intoxication manslaughter in the death of Jerry Brown in 2013. He would serve 180 days in jail and ten years probation. The court exposed the fact that Brent was driving over a 100 mph on a road with a speed limit of 45 mph. Although Brent was found guilty, the mother of Brown has always defended him.
7 Dwayne Lewis Goodrich
Dwayne Lewis Goodrich would be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2000 NFL draft. His first two seasons in the league would be plagued by injuries. In January of 2003, Goodrich would be involved in a hit and run accident that claimed the lives of two people. He was arrested for vehicular manslaughter a day after the accident.
In September that same year, Goodrich would be found guilty and sentenced to seven and a half years for two counts of criminally negligent homicide. The sole surviving victim of the accident, Shuki Josef, eventually forgave Goodrich in court. Goodrich also proved in the trial that he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident. After serving his sentence, he was released in 2011.
6 Ray Lewis
One of the greatest defensive players of all-time may never have served a sentence but he did take part in a brawl that resulted in two deaths. After a Super Bowl XXXIV party in 2000, Lewis and his buddies got into a fight with another group. When the brawl stopped, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar bled to death after being stabbed. During the trial, Lewis would cut a plea agreement with the District Attorney in exchange for his testimony against the two companions he was with, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting.
Lewis went from looking at one year in prison to serving 12 months probation for a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. Many questions still surround that night. Lewis was wearing a white suit which never was found and he also lied to the police about never being at the scene. The limousine Lewis was using had Baker’s blood inside and there were no handprints on the knife. Both Oakley and Sweeting were acquitted of all charges and no other suspects have been arrested.
5 Eric Naposki
Eric Naposki never had a lengthy career in the NFL but he did play for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in the late 1980s. The Tuckahoe, New York native would also bounce around the preseason camps of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets but couldn’t make the teams. He went undrafted in 1988 and by 1991, he would play for the Barcelona Dragons in the World League of American Football.
He would have a solid career in Europe and would leave the game on his own terms. Twenty-five years after a man named Bill McLaughlin was murdered, Naposki would be arrested in Connecticut and charged with the crime in 2011. Apparently, he was in an intimate relationship with McLaughlin’s girlfriend at the time, Nanette Johnston. The plan was to kill McLaughlin so Johnston could collect his life insurance. Although both were found guilty of the murder, Naposki has always claimed his innocence.
4 Jovan Belcher
Jovan Belcher had the world ahead of him at the age of 25 in 2012. He was a decent linebacker drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009 and signed a $1.9 million deal in March of 2012 to stay with the team. In November of 2012, Belcher would kill the mother of his three-month-old child at their home and then turned the gun on himself in the parking lot of the Chief’s practice facility by Arrowhead Stadium.
Belcher would shoot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, in front of her mother nine times before driving to the parking lot. The murder-suicide took place in the morning but the reason for the tragedy stemmed from an argument that happened the night before. In 2014, an official report released by ESPN detailed Belcher having suffered from CTE.
3 Rae Carruth
Rae Carruth was drafted by the Carolina Panthers with the twenty-seventh overall pick in the 1997 NFL draft and did a pretty good job as a rookie. He would post 44 receptions, 545 yards, and four touchdowns which earned him a spot on the all-rookie team. His third year in the league should have been a stepping stone to becoming a better player, however, Carruth would involve himself in plotting and acting out the murder of the woman who was eight months pregnant with his child at the time, Cherica Adams.
After being shot four times by Van Brett Watkins Sr., an acquaintance of Carruth, Adams would find the strength to call the police. She would tell them Carruth stopped her with his vehicle while she was driving and Watkins drove along her passenger window and shot her. The child survived but was diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to 70 minutes without oxygen. Carruth is on a path to being released in 2018.
2 Aaron Hernandez
The rise and fall of Aaron Hernandez made a comeback in the mainstream news when the former New England Patriot tight end committed suicide in his jail cell in April. Hernandez earned a $40 million dollar contract for his hard work on the field in 2012, however, a year later he would be investigated for the murder of his friend, Odin Llyod. He was charged with first-degree murder and pleaded not guilty in the summer of 2013.
The former star would have to serve a life sentence in jail. After being acquitted of a separate double homicide charge stemming from 2012, Hernandez would take his own life. Although his story is tragic, his tale is a firm reminder for future professional athletes of how quickly things can spiral out of control.
1 Robert Rozier
There are many murderers on this list, however, Robert Rozier might take the cake for being the scariest one. Rage, lust, or just being really stupid are some, if not all the reasons why these former NFL players are on the list but for Rozier, he’s on a whole other level. He would be drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in round nine of the 1979 draft. After a short time in the NFL and Canadian Football League, he would become involved with “The Brotherhood.”
It was led by cult leader Yahweh ben Yahweh with their central belief of black supremacy. In order to please his leader, Rozier killed seven white people in 1985. He would eventually be caught and agreed to testify against Yahweh’s group for a reduced sentence. After serving ten years of a 22-year sentence, Rozier would be set free and placed in the witness protection program.