The Top Five Criminals in Professional Sports

Full disclaimer, this entire article might come off as relatively tasteless in light on the recent Aaron Hernandez announcement, but when you’re convicted of first-degree murder, your right to not be ridiculed is gone.  Additionally, the article is meant for satirical purposes, and I’m knowingly using the term “criminal” very loosely.  Although not everyone I’m about to mention was convicted for their crime, I’m simple using the term “criminal” to refer to their involvement in such proceedings, and by no means intend for this article to be libelous, obtuse or offensive (maybe the last one.)

Aaron Hernandez was proven to be what many suspected him of being for the past two years; a murderer.  In 2013, he signed a $40 million contract extension with the New England Patriots, but then shot and killed his friend Odin Lloyd months later.  In the span of only a few months, he went from a promising, young superstar to another occupant of a Massachusetts prison cell.  And all this got me thinking, “Gee, I bet there’s some other high-profile athletes who stupidly committed terrible crimes.”  Sure enough, there’s enough entries on the list of criminals moonlighting as professional athletes to fill out an entire intramural prison rugby team.  Here are five more guys who couldn’t figure out how to just accept their comfortable lives without committing a crime.

5. Rae Carruth

The Carolina Panthers used their first round draft selection in 1997 to pick Rae Carruth, an undersized, but talented wide receiver from the University of Colorado who posted respectable numbers in his rookie season and was a member of the NFL’s all-rookie team.  Carruth also really hated children, which was problematic because he couldn’t seem to stop having them.  His sophomore year at Colorado, he impregnated his girlfriend, only to entirely neglect her and the child until she ultimately sued him for child support.  But, with a budding career as a professional football player, the $2,700 a month payments would be a piece of cake.  Unfortunately, he went ahead and knocked up Cherica Adams in 1999.  While this may not seem like the end of the world for reasonable adult human beings, it was apparently enough to set Carruth over the edge.

You see, Carruth really wanted Adams to have an abortion.  She, obviously, was against doing so, so Carruth jumped to the next logical step; he would hire some goons to stage a drug deal gone bad and make sure she was killed in the crossfire.  On November 16, 1999, this set of circumstances played out.  Adams was leaving a location near Carruth’s home when he decided to park his car directly in front of her’s, while another car pulled up on her passenger side and opened fire.  Carruth then fled the scene, but was captured across state lines hiding in the trunk of his car, surrounded by candy bars and bottles of his own pee.  This is what investigators refer to as “suspicious activity”.  Tragically, Adams succumbed to her gunshot wounds and the baby, delivered via emergency cesarean, suffered permanent brain damage.  Carruth hilariously contended the shooting was “just a coincidence”, to which the prosecuting attorney probably sarcastically said, “Well, okay then Rae, let’s just call it a day and pack it in.”  Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and is currently serving his sentence in North Carolina.  He is expected to be released in 2018.

4. Oscar Pistorius

Sticking with the decidedly  gloomy theme of murdering your significant other, Oscar Pistorius, affectionately referred to as “Blade Runner” because of his noticeable lack of legs, shot and killed his girlfriend in South Africa in 2013.  Really, the whole scenario unfolded like a Greek tragedy: In 2012, during the Olympic Games in London, Pistorius, who is a double-amputee, became a symbol of hope and courage for the millions of people watching the Games as he became the first Paralympian to ever compete in the actual Olympics.  He didn’t win any events, or really even come close, but still, it’s truthfully an amazing, inspiring story.  Pistorius landed deals with major sponsors and became an international symbol of greatness, and if he would’ve just rode off into the sunset after the 2012 games he would’ve been remembered as one of the greatest Olympic heroes of all-time.

Unfortunately, none of that happened.  Instead, on Valentine’s Day in 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in their Pretoria home.  Pistorius claims to have mistaken her for an intruder, which is odd given the relative level of intrusions on Valentine’s Day are usually welcome (tee hee) and the fact that Pistorius, despite being a double-amputee, is a world-class athlete.  If you broke into LeBron James’ home tonight, he would pop your skull like a cranberry with his bare hands before the police even had time to load up the cruisers.  He apparently shot Steenkamp through their bathroom door, which further complicates the issue and also points to knocking was not a common courtesy in South African culture.  In the end, Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide which is the pretentious, fancy South African term for manslaughter.  Pistorius received a five-year sentence and is currently trying to get a prison basketball team together.

3.  Dany Heatley

What’s awesome about the United States criminal system is the punishment usually fits the crime.  And even when someone, like, say, a professional athlete chooses to break the law, their teams respond accordingly and release said criminal/player.  Michael Vick and Ray Rice were immediately dismissed from their respective franchises for “brush-ups” (if you will) with the law while Gilbert Arenas was released by his Washington Wizards team before charges stemming from a concealed weapons issue were even officially levied.  This fact is actually pretty refreshing; if you mess up, you’re out of a job.  Unless, of course, you’re Dany Heatley.  Unlike Carruth and Pistorius, who are currently rotting away in prison, Heatley is still in the NHL’s system, and even played in several game this past season.  Heatley, unlike Carruth and Pistorius didn’t shoot anyone.  No, he’s not a monster.  All he did was travel nearly three times the posted speed limit in his new Ferrari, wreck, and kill his best friend in the process.

In 2003, Heatley and teammate Dan Snyder were traveling nearly 85 miles per hour in a 35 zone when Heatley lost control of his Ferrari and crashed.  Both were ejected from the vehicle, with Snyder taking the brunt of the damage.  He needed immediate surgery to repair his skull and was placed in a medically induced coma.  Unfortunately, he died six days after the crash.  Heatley was then taken to court, tried, and felt the full-force of the legal system.  Just kidding.  In fact, precisely none of that happened.  You see, Heatley, in addition to being a terrible driver, was a really good hockey player.  In 2003, he was still only in his third year in the league after being a second overall draft pick years earlier.  The best of his career was still to come, and neither the judge nor Snyder’s grieving parents felt words like “jail”, “vehicular homicide” or “criminal negligence” meant much of anything, especially when there’s hockey to be played!  Heatley was literally given a slap on the wrist, as he avoided a potential 15-year jail sentence in lieu of probation, community service, and, no kidding, a speeding ticket.  But, with memories of the accident behind him and throngs of Atlanta fans (his current team) supporting him despite his horrible lapse in judgement, Heatley would go on to heroically request a trade and transform the Ottawa Senators into a powerhouse while the Thrashers made the playoffs only once in their 11 year history and were so awful someone else bought them and moved them to Canada.  No one in Atlanta has yet to notice.

2. O.J. Simpson

Yeah, this is probably the one everyone saw coming.

O.J. Simpson is one of the greatest running backs of all time.  If rushing yards were nickels then O.J. would have a whole bunch of nickels.  Well after his playing career was over, O.J. had returned home to Southern California to enjoy retirement and filming the occasional Police Academy movie when he decided it was a good idea to murder his wife, Nicole Brown.  One ridiculous, time consuming, and hysterical media circus trial later O.J. was found…not guilty?  Hmm, that’s strange.  Simpson, even today, is almost universally considered to be the prime suspect in that murder case.  Fortunately for O.J. Simpson, his defense team was like the 1996 Bulls and Johnny Cochran was the Michael Jordan.  They hit a total home run and cleared O.J. of murder charges.

Although literally the entire world hated him, Simpson could’ve taken a cue from any person who had just received a literal Get Out of Jail Free card and retire to Bermuda or live like a recluse Bruce Wayne for the remainder of his days.  Hey, it beats prison.

But, for some reason, Simpson would not go away.  The straw that finally broke the karma camel’s back happened in 2007.  Simpson was accused to armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas.  This is not good, seeing as O.J., despite his not guilty ruling, was more or less condemned to unofficial probation to the remainder of his life.  Worth noting, Simpson’s “not guilty” ruling is decidedly not the same as “innocent” and there wasn’t a judge in this country who wasn’t salivating at the idea of putting O.J. away.  Simpson was convicted of several felony charges and sentenced to 33 years in prison, which, at this point, could be the remainder of his life.  On a hilarious side note, the armed robbery that nailed Simpson to the wall was committed because he wanted to steal back some of his old memorabilia he previously sold.  O.J. Simpson understood neither karma nor irony, both of which came back to be his bane.  So if O.J., the most notorious athlete/criminal of all time isn’t worthy of the number one slot, then who is?

1. Sam Hurd

Sam Hurd was an utterly unremarkable wide receiver who spent his brief career with the Bears and Cowboys.  Hurd was also living in a real-life Breaking Bad universe.

You see, where everyone else on their list made their living as an athlete and supplemented their careers by just dabbling in crime, Hurd was the opposite; the NFL was just his side job.  According to court documents involving his case, Hurd was a relatively high-level cocaine dealer.  He was said to have connections with a large network in California and met with Cartel representatives on several occasions.  The Cartel are the dudes who enjoy sawing off people’s heads and displaying them in public, so Hurd’s desire to work with them is slightly disturbing.  You also might recognize all of these as attributes of an interstate drug network, in which case congratulations on your observation!

By all accounts, Hurd made a lot more money moving coke and weed than he ever did playing professional football.  He certainly didn’t have cancer or a lovable like Walter White had, but his journey was strikingly similar.  In 2011, Hurd was taken into custody after a lengthy investigation into his activities, but since he was one of the most profitable cocaine dealers in Chicago (not great for a job resume) he had no trouble posting bail, after he (obviously) entered a not guilty plea.  And he just might have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that rotten drug habit.

Like a chubby teenager at McDonald’s, Hurd enjoyed his product.  In 2012, while awaiting his trial to determine if he would potentially spend his life in jail for his involvement in drugs, he went ahead and involved himself in some drugs.  He failed two drugs tests in consecutive months in 2012 and was jailed indefinitely, at which point he figured he might as well totally give up and changed his plea to guilty.  In hindsight, he got of extremely easy, as he was slapped with a 15 year sentence, which is remarkable considering he could’ve potentially been handed a life term.  For his sakes, hopefully he’s kicked that nasty drug habit in prison, although there’s sure to be plenty of Cartel for him to reacquaint himself with.

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