With more than 1,600 players in the NFL, you are bound to have a few bad apples here and there. Although it may seem like football players are committing crimes at an alarming rate, a UT Dallas study has revealed that between the years 2000 – 2013, the arrest rate for NFL players was lower than the arrest rate for the general population. However, when an athlete commits a crime, it’s usually plastered all over every media outlet, and everyone from the sports world and beyond becomes fixated on every single gruesome detail.
No one bats an eye when an NFL player is popped for a petty crime such as theft, but when a horrific crime takes place at the hands of a star player, it definitely gets our attention. Many NFL players have been convicted of crimes ranging from murder, to sexual assault and kidnapping, and in the blink of an eye, these players go from seeing their name in shiny, bright lights to seeing their name at top of a jail booking sheet.
We may never understand why some of these NFL players choose to ruin their lives, promising careers, and the lives of others by committing such heinous acts of violence. Even though some players get away with just a slap on the wrist, others have not been so lucky, and have been ordered to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
Check out this surprising list of 10 NFL players who were convicted of horrific crimes.
10. Eric Naposki
If you blinked, you may have missed Eric Naposki’s stint in the NFL. The New York-native played for just three seasons – one with the Indianapolis Colts, and one with the New England Patriots. By 1989, he was out of the league, and playing football overseas in Barcelona, Spain up until 1997. He seemed like your typical football player, making a living doing what he loved, but no one knew that the 6’2″ linebacker had committed a horrific crime back in 1994.
Naposki shot and killed a man named Bill McLaughlin so that McLaughlin’s girlfriend, Nanette Johnston, could collect his life insurance in December 1994. The murder went unsolved until May 21, 2009 when Naposki was finally charged with the crime and found guilty of first-degree murder. During the proceedings, it was revealed that Naposki and Johnston were secret lovers, and not only was the killing done for financial gain, but the two wanted to be together without McLaughlin in the picture. Johnston was also charged and convicted of first-degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
9. Darren Sharper
Darren Sharper’s career in the NFL lasted from 1997-2010, and he even won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints. After his professional career ended, he took a position as an analyst for the NFL Network, but no one could even imagine what the former player had been up to during his time away from work.
The station fired Sharper in February 2014 after news broke that criminal charges would be filed against him for sexual assault. He was arrested in Los Angeles and charged with two counts of rape by use of drugs. Later, he was brought up on charges in Orleans Parish, Louisiana, Arizona and Las Vegas for aggravated rape. Sports fans worldwide were shocked to learn that Sharper had been living a double life as a serial rapist.
On March 23, he entered a guilty plea to sexual assault in Arizona, and a no contest plea to rape in California. The very next day, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for those charges, but the law wasn’t done with him yet. He racked up a 20-year sentence in Louisiana for the multiple rapes he committed there.
8. Tommy Kane
As a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, Tommy Kane’s time in the NFL lasted from 1988-1992. Upon leaving the league, he was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 1994. Less than ten years after retiring, Kane snapped and stabbed his wife, 35-year-old Tammara Shaikh, to death. The two were separated, and Kane was meeting up with Shaikh at his mother’s home in Lasalle, Quebec before heading off to a drug treatment center. Kane had reportedly dragged Shaikh, the mother of his four children, into the kitchen and stabbed her in the neck.
Kane was convicted of manslaughter in 2004, and ordered to serve 18 years behind bars.
7. Ray Lewis
Many recognize Ray Lewis as the former-Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champ, but the middle linebacker also has a past history that includes a gruesome killing.
While attending a Super Bowl party in 2000, a fight broke out, and two men were stabbed to death. Lewis was questioned after the suit he was wearing was found covered in the blood of the two victims. He was later indicted on two murder charges, but prosecutors eventually dropped the charges. The case remains unsolved to this day.
Lewis didn’t get off completely scot-free. He was convicted of giving misleading information to the police the morning after the killings and was sentenced to 12 months of probation. He later paid an undisclosed amount of money to the victims’ families.
6. Dwayne Lewis Goodrich
Dwayne Lewis Goodrich played cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys from 2000-2002, and his career was cut short after he was involved in a hit-and-run accident that killed two people on January 14, 2003 on a Dallas freeway.
Goodrich reportedly struck and killed two motorists who were attempting to rescue a man who was trapped in a burning vehicle. Although witnesses claimed Goodrich was going over 100mph, an accident reconstruction expert clocked his speed at around 54mph.
On September 8, 2003 he was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, and fined $20,000. Three years later, prosecutors and the families of the victims asked to add five additional years to his sentence. The courts declined their request, and Goodrich was released from prison in 2011.
5. OJ Simpson
OJ Simpson is by far one of the most recognizable athlete-turned-convicted felons. The former Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers running back was charged with killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, on June 12, 1994. He was later acquitted of all charges, but was found liable for the wrongful death stabbing deaths of both Brown and Goldman. He was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages – a massive amount of money that the families will likely never fully recoup.
Simpson’s court trial was widely publicized and is still one of the most watched criminal proceedings in history. Although he was found not guilty of murder, karma quickly caught up to him in September 2007 when he was convicted of kidnapping and robbery after busting into a Las Vegas hotel room and taking his sports memorabilia at gunpoint. His co-conspirators took plea deals and pointed the finger at Simpson and three other co-defendants. Simpson was facing a possible life sentence, and on December 5, 2008, the final verdict was made: 30 years behind bars with the possibility of parole after nine years.
After a few years, a judge agreed to reopen Simpson’s robbery and kidnapping case after Simpson claimed he had been badly misrepresented by his lawyers. The Nevada Parole Board later granted Simpson parole on July 31, 2013, but required that he serve four more years on other charges. Simpson should be back roaming the streets and wreaking havoc soon.
4. Jovan Belcher
The tale of Jovan Belcher is eerie and heartbreaking at the same time. The former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker shot and killed 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his three-month-old daughter, in front of his own mother. Perkins was shot a total of 9 times in the neck, chest, abdomen, hip, back, leg and hand.
Following the murder, Belcher went to visit his coach and the Chiefs’ general manager at Arrowhead Stadium. He exited his car and put a gun to his head. He allegedly spoke to them about not being able “to get enough help,” and despite them pleading for him not to hurt himself, he pulled the trigger and committed suicide right there in the parking lot.
3. Aaron Hernandez
New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez is another popular sports criminal that received a lot of media coverage. Just after signing a five-year contract with the team, Hernandez was arrested for murdering his acquaintance, Odin Lloyd. Hernandez and his co-defendants lured Lloyd into a car, and shot him to death in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s home. In April 2015, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He has also been charged with killing two men after a nightclub dispute in 2012.
2. Rae Carruth
Another extremely heartbreaking story involves the Carolina Panthers Rae Carruth, a wide receiver who had a promising NFL career in the palm of his hands. But just like that, Carruth’s career was over, one person was dead, and one life will be hindered forever.
On November 16, 1999, Cherica Adams was shot near Carruth’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina. The two had been casually dating, and Adams was eight months pregnant with Carruth’s child. She was shot four times by a man named Van Brett Watkins Sr., who was riding in a car driven by Carruth. After being shot when their vehicle pulled up next to hers, Adams was able to call 911 and ID the suspects. Carruth had requested Adams get an abortion, and when she refused, he took matters into his own hands.
Adams’ son, Chancellor Lee Adams, was delivered via emergency C-section before she passed away from her injuries. Chancellor is being raised by Adams’ mother, and is severely disabled.
Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison, and is expected to be released on October 22, 2018.
1. Robert Rozier
Robert Rozier played defensive end for the St. Louis Cardinals back in 1979. He only played in six games before being cut on suspicions of drug abuse. Shortly thereafter, he joined a black supremacist religious group that required its members to murder white people, and return their bodies to the cult leader.
After joining Yahweh ben Yahweh’s “Temple of Love” in 1982, Rozier changed his name to Neariah Israel and went on a killing spree. He confessed to murdering seven people and received a lenient sentence of 10 years for testifying against the cult leader. Later, prosecutors dropped all charges, and Rozier was released from prison in 1996.
But his time out in the real world didn’t last very long. After being released, Rozier was placed in the witness protection program under the name Robert Ramses, and in February 1999, he was arrested for writing a bad check to pay for a car repair. After investigating his identity, police were able to track down 29 bounced checks Rozier had written, totaling more than $2,000. He was convicted of a felony, and under a third strike law, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.