Fumbled: 7 NFL Players Who Committed Major League Crimes

Instead of going to the Big Game, these players went to the Big House.

February 01, 2019
By: Mike McPadden

O.J. Simpson: Buffalo Bills, running back

Foul Call: Arrested in 1994 for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Arrested again in 2007 for the armed robbery of sports memorabilia dealers inside a Las Vegas hotel room.

Play-by-Play: O.J. Simpson’s attempt to flee justice in a slow-speed highway chase and his subsequent “Trial of the Century” for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman is among the most high-profile true-crime sagas in human history. So, too, is his defense attorney Johnny Cochran’s citing a leather glove and instructing the jury, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” The jury took those words to heart, and Simpson was famously found not guilty of the killings in 1995.

A dozen years later, Simpson and three coconspirators drew guns and stormed into a room at the Palace Station hotel-casino in Las Vegas to “take back” sports memorabilia that the fallen football hero claimed was his. After his cohorts pleaded guilty, Simpson opted to go to trial. On October 3, 2008, a jury convicted him on 12 charges related to the armed robbery, including a count of kidnapping.

Penalty: On December 5, 2008, a judge in Nevada sentenced Simpson to 33 years in jail, with the possibility of parole after nine. Simpson did his time and got released on October 1, 2017.

Extra Point: While Simpson was being considered for parole, a July 2017 disciplinary incident was reported to have threatened his chances — a prison guard allegedly wrote up the former All-American for masturbating in his cell.

Upon successfully getting released, though, Simpson was reportedly booted from a Las Vegas nightclub a month later for disruptive behavior.

In March 2018, Fox TV aired O.J. Simpson: The Final Confession, an interview special taped 12 years earlier in which “The Juice” detailed how he would have committed the 1994 double murder — if he did it.

Photo: O.J. Simpson [Clark County Detention Center]

Rae Carruth: Carolina Panthers

Foul Call: Charged with the 1999 murder of his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams

Play-by-Play: On November 16, 1999, Cherica Adams called 911 to report that she’d been shot four times while driving in Charlotte, North Carolina. Before slipping into a coma, Adams told police that Carruth had been driving the vehicle in front of hers. The last thing she remembered, Adams said, was Carruth slowing down, after which she heard gunshots.

While Adams was comatose, doctors successfully delivered the couple’s son, Chancellor Lee, who is now 19 and suffers from cerebral palsy and brain damage as a result of the shooting. Cherica Adams fatally succumbed to her wounds four weeks after the incident.

Investigators uncovered a murder-for-hire plot in which Carruth hired shooter Van Brett Watkins to kill Adams. The convicted assassin said Carruth didn’t want to have to pay the victim child support.

Penalty: The jury convicted Carruth of conspiracy to kill Adams, but did not convict him of murder. The judge sentenced him to 18 to 24 years in jail.

Extra Point: On October 22, 2018, Carruth completed 19 years of his sentence and walked free. He wrote a letter to his victim’s mother, Shauna Adams, saying he was sorry and asking to establish a relationship with his son.

Shauna Adams responded: “I’ve forgiven Rae already … but I can say definitively he’s not ever going to have custody.... Chancellor will be raised either by me or, after I’m gone, by someone else who loves him and who knows him. He will never be raised by a stranger — someone he doesn’t know and who tried to kill him.” [CrimeFeed]

Photo: Rae Carruth [North Carolina Dept of Public Safety]

Tommy Kane: Seattle Seahawks, wide receiver

Foul Call: Charged in 2003 with second-degree murder in the beating and stabbing death of his 35-year-old wife, Tammara Shaik.

Play-by-Play: On November 30, 2003, Tammara Shaik asked Kane to come to her mother’s house for a talk. The couple had recently separated, and Shaik reportedly tried to persuade Kane to go to rehab by telling him their marriage was over if he didn’t.

Kane not only refused treatment, but he allegedly grabbed Shaik by the hair, dragged her into the kitchen, repeatedly smashed her head on the floor, and then stabbed her in the neck.

Penalty: Kane pleaded down to manslaughter and received an 18-year sentence.

Extra Point: In 2010, a court ordered Kane to pay $590,000 to the four children he had with Shaik and their legal guardian, his dead wife’s sister, Ava Shaikh [ESPN]

Photo: Tommy Kane [Correctional Service Canada]

Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson: Dallas Cowboys, linebacker

Foul Call: Convicted in 1983 of smoking crack cocaine and having sex with teenage girls.

Play-by-Play: The girls claimed that Henderson threatened them with a firearm and committed sexual assault. Henderson maintained he provided drugs to the teens in exchange for consensual sex.

Penalty: Henderson took a plea deal. He did eight months in a rehab facility before serving 28 months in prison. He says “Hollywood” died during that process, and that his true self — Thomas Henderson — has been clean and sober ever since.

Extra Point: In 2000, Henderson won a $28 million Lotto jackpot. He has been actively philanthropic since then and travels giving motivational talks, particularly to recovering addicts and youngsters at risk of turning to crime. [Los Angeles Times]

Photo: Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson [EricEnfermero/Wikimedia Commons]

Aaron Hernandez: New England Patriots, tight end

Foul Calls: Convicted for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd; charged with the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado; sued for shooting Alexander Bradley in 2013; remains a person of interest in a 2001 Florida shooting of two men

Play-by-Play: Where Aaron Hernandez goes, trouble (to put it mildly) chased him like he had a live game ball.

After pleading not guilty to the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, evidence continuously stacked up against him. In the course of that investigation, police connected Hernandez to fatal gunshots fired into a vehicle containing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

After spending the night in a Miami strip club with Hernandez, Alexander Bradley claims that his “friend” Aaron shot him and caused the loss of his right eye. Odin Lloyd was also Hernandez’s “friend.”

Penalty: After the Patriots terminated Hernandez’s $41 million contract, he was found guilty in 2015 of the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Two years later, though, Hernandez was acquitted in the murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

Extra Point: On April 19, 2017, just five days after being cleared of double homicide, Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell. He was 27. [USA Today] [Biography]

Photo: Aaron Hernandez [North Attleborough Police Department]

Ray Lewis: Baltimore Ravens, linebacker

Foul Call: Charged in 2000 with the murders of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar

Play-by-Play: After attending a “Champagne Blowout” party to celebrate the championship game at the Cobalt nightclub in Atlanta, Ray Lewis and his pals Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting reportedly got into a brawl outside with Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis and his friends hobbled away from the dust-up; Baker and Lollar lay dead on the ground after being stabbed. All three survivors got arrested and charged with murder.

Penalty: Ray Lewis pleaded his case down to 12 months probation. In exchange for having murder charges dropped against him, Lewis testified against Oakley and Sweeting. The NFL fined Lewis $250,000. Oakley and Sweeting went to trial and were found not guilty.

Extra Point: Ray Lewis maintains his innocence and has been recognized as of the most charitable figures in professional sports. [Yahoo Sports]

Photo: Ray Lewis [Atlanta Police Department]

Lawrence Taylor: New York Giants, linebacker

Foul Calls: Multiple arrests across many years for drugs, DUI, financial misdeeds, and other crimes. In 2009, police busted Lawrence “LT” Taylor for third-degree rape, patronizing a prostitute, sexual abuse, and endangering a child.

Play-by-Play: After decades of problems, Taylor seemed to hit a new low in 2009 when he was caught consuming drugs with and paying for the sexual services of a 16-year-old Bronx runaway. But in September 2016, LT got busted for drunk driving — again — after sideswiping a mobile home and a police car on a Florida highway.

Penalty: For the incident with the runaway, LT pleaded down to two misdemeanor sex charges and got six years probation. He is also now a registered sex offender.

Extra Point: In 2015, Lawrence Taylor, Jr. — LT’s son — pleaded guilty to statutory rape and child molestation in exchange for 10 years’ jail time. On June 9, 2016, Lynette Taylor — LT’s wife — got arrested for domestic violence after throwing an “unknown object” at her husband’s head. [Touchdown Wire]

Photo: Lawrence Taylor [Ramapo Police Department]