Which NFL players have gone to prison?
There are over 55 NFL players who have gone to prison for committing high-profile crimes. Find out which players had the longest sentences, and why.
The NFL world has always seen its fair share of criminals. There have been over 55 different crimes, including assault, fraud and even first-degree murder, from players we struggle to understand why went down that road.
We’ve jotted down a list of NFL players who have been sentenced to over 20 years of prison, and the reason behind their incarceration. But before we go all the way back to 2001 when Rae Carruth was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder, we highlighted 2021’s most recent cases of former NFL players who found themselves on the other side of the law.
2021 NFL criminals
Oct. 25, 2021 - Former NFL players, Correll Buckhalter, Anthony Montgomery and Darrell Reid, pleaded guilty to a $4 million health care fraud scheme, back in September. On Monday, the three players got sentenced, with Buckhalter receiving 10 months in prison and 10 months of house arrest, and the others getting 10 months of house arrest each. Check the full story behind how they schemed their fraud under the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan.
April, 2021- Travis Rudolph, who played for the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after a shooting rampage that left one person dead and another wounded in Florida. In what seemed like a fight between him and his girlfriend, the 25-year-old was seen roaming around his house with a gun, by an independent witness, who also heard gunshots near his front yard. He is now asking for all charges to be dismissed as he acted in self-defense. Because of Florida’s stand your ground law, a hearing is set for Nov. 8.
The former NFL player joined the Giants for one year, 2017-2018, before he was released as a part of final cuts. He moved on to sign with the Miami Dolphins afterwards, but tore his ACL in his first practice, landing on injured reserve. He never made it back to the NFL.
March, 2021- Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced to 14 years of prison for sexual offenses and various rapes. The 37-year-old, who is a father of two, has done nothing but traumatize women since 2013 (or maybe even before that): assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public. He even befriended a homeless woman and ended up raping her in 2018. This man was the highest-paid tight end in the NFL, making over $40 million in his 10 seasons before he left in 2013. We're out of words.
NFL players with long prison sentences
Going back to the NFL's list of criminals with over 20 years in prison, the all-time winner would have to be Keith Wright.
The former defensive lineman played for the NFL a few seasons over three years before he was out of the league for good. In 2011, he was arrested for his trio of alleged robberies in Sacramento, CA, that involved a handgun. In total, Wright was convicted of 19 crimes, ranging from armed robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment, to forcible oral copulation and first-degree burglary. He then received a sentence that would keep him imprisoned even past his death, a total of 230 years.
Next in line would be all three players charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole, Aaron Hernandez, Anthony Smith and Eric Naposki.
Hernandez played three seasons with the New England Patriots until he put an end to his career after his arrest and conviction for the murder of his once-friend, Odin Lloyd. The motive behind the murder is unknown, but it is believed that it was either out of lloyd’s betrayal or fear of being exposed as a homosexual. Hernandez was sentenced to life without parole, but took his own life by hanging himself behind bars two years later, 2017. Find the full story here.
Smith spent six seasons with the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders, before he retired, surprisingly, in 1997. In 2015, years after the 2001 kidnap and murder of a man named Dennis Henderson, and brothers Ricky and Kevin Nettles in 1999, Smith was convicted of those murders. It gets worse. When the police found Henderson’s body, it was clear that he, like the others, was tortured to death; his body was in the back seat of a car with his feet up towards the roof and his head on the floorboard. Smith got three life sentences, without parole.
Naposki, who was also a former Patriot, was convicted of the murder of Bill McLaughlin, in 2011. The love triangle murder case involved Naposki and his lover Nanette Packard, who was McLaughlin's wife. Naposki never admitted to the murder, and said he was "not a killer". He was then sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in 2012. Here's the full story.
Among other NFL players who have been sentenced to a considerably long time in prison are:
Daryll Henley, former Los Angeles Rams’ cornerback, arrested for attempted conspiracy to commit murder, and drug trafficking in 1995. (43 years)
O.J. Simpson- the Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills' running back, who was acquitted of the 1994 killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the Brown and Goldman families, 1997. Then in 2007, Simpson was accused of burglary and kidnapping regarding an alleged incident that took place in a Las Vegas hotel. He was then found guilty, and received up to 33 years in prison, with eligibility of parole. In 2017, he was released after serving nine years in prison. (9-33 years)
Lawrence Phillips -former Nebraska star and St. Louis Rams' running back arrested in 2005, after intentionally driving into three teenagers in the wake of a dispute at a football game. He was also convicted of assault and a separate incident of assault with a deadly weapon. While in prison, he faced a first-degree murder after strangling his cellmate, Damian Soward, to death, in 2015. A year later, he hung himself behind bars, and left a note on his chest that read, "Do not resuscitate". (31 years)
Dave Meggett, former New York Giants’ running back, arrested in 2009, for raping and robbing a part-time student at the College of Charleston. Later on, he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct and burglary. (30 years)
In 2001, Rae Carruth- who played for the Carolina Panthers, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, but released in October, 2018 after having served 19 years. (sentenced to 24 years).