Criminal Cases in The NFL


Image via Biography

Stanley Shivley, Writer

Reader Discretion: Themes of Murder, Animal Abuse, Domestic Violence,  and Suicide

The National Football League (or NFL) is the oldest active American Football league in the world. It’s been touted as “America’s Game.” Players from Pop Warner, all the way to the Big League, are expected to be responsible and always put their team first. The expectation is that these athletes will follow the rulebook and not get too aggressive or rowdy on the field. However, what happens when that line is crossed? Well, they’d get a fine, usually thousands of dollars taken out of their bank account, and they’d issue an apology, usually to their team or a press conference. Now, what happens when we take that situation, and apply it off the field? Every player has a different personality (except Jay Cutler), however, they’re still expected to keep up that charade of a good guy who gives back to his community. Now, what happens when that mask slips? Well, we get what you’ll see here.

Michael Vick – Animal Cruelty (2007)

Michael Vick was a borderline MVP-Level quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2000s. Taken with the 1st Pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, Vick had eyes on him, way before he ever walked onto the Georgia Dome Turf. Vick would have even more eyes on him in 2007, this time from the News and Legal World when an Investigation would reveal he operated a Dog Fighting Ring on a property he owned in Virginia. Vick, who at the time was sponsored by Nike, Coca-Cola, Donruss, and was on the Cover of Madden 2004, had all of his sponsors dropped days after the news was reported. Nike canceled the release of his newest signature shoe and Reebok pulled his jerseys from stores. Around 50 Dogs were found abused at Vick’s Sury County house, and he had direct involvement with the murder and torture of 8 pit bull terriers. Vick explained that as a young boy, he was brought to many neighborhood dog fights, and thought of it as “competition” and “cool.” Animal Rights activists protested in Atlanta, at the Falcons Practice Facility, and many had lost respect for Vick. He was sentenced to 5 years in US Penitentiary Leavenworth, however after pleading guilty to participating in an animal fighting ring, only had to serve 23 months. Michael Vick’s situation was rare, as he was never waived until after his release from prison in 2009, and had a successful bounce back. In August 2009, Vick was signed as a backup quarterback to the Philadelphia Eagles, a move that divided Eagles fans. He started for the Eagles from 2010 to 2013, won Comeback Player of The Year, and a Pro Bowl appearance in 2010. In Recent Years, Vick has lobbied for animal safety bills. While Michael Vick will go down as one of the most explosive quarterbacks in NFL history, he will always be known as an animal abuser to some.

Aaron Hernandez – Murder (2013)

Aaron Hernandez was a standout Tight End for the Florida Gators in College, playing with future NFL talent Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Percy Harvin, and Carlos Dunlap to name a few. He was drafted to the New England Patriots in 2010 and brought controversy with him. Hernandez failed multiple drug tests and often got into multiple fights. The height of Hernandez’s NFL Career was to catch one of two total New England touchdowns in Super Bowl XLVI, a game the Patriots would lose. Months after the Super Bowl, Hernandez became an accomplice to a drive-by shooting that killed two men. In 2013, Hernandez’s controversies’ boiling point would be when he murdered Odin Lloyd, a Semi-Pro Football Player, who was dating Hernandez’s fiance’s Sister at the time. Hernandez was arrested that summer and was formally convicted of first-degree murder in 2015. In 2017, Aaron Hernandez hung himself in his cell. We can only wonder how he, Rob Gronkowski, and Tom Brady would’ve paired for the next few years as part of the Patriots’ dynasty if everything hadn’t gone so awry.

Ray Rice – Domestic Violence (2014)

Ray Rice was once one of the best running backs in football nine or so years ago, however one fatal mistake he made ruined his entire career, and left him never touching the field again after 2013. Rice was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 Draft, after 3 spectacular years at Rutgers University. He quickly had his name known with a Pro-Bowl and 2nd Team All-Pro appearance before the age of 23. In 2013, he won his first, of what could’ve been many, and only Super Bowl, with Future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. His career was going great, until February 2014, when TMZ leaked elevator security camera footage of a fight between Rice and his fiancee that shocked the world. The video showed Rice punch his fiancee in the head and drag her unconscious body out of the elevator. He was later indicted on third-degree aggravated assault, and ironically got married to his fiancee a day later. As he was a first-time offender, his charges were dropped and he was forced to go to mandated counseling. The former All-Pro Running Back never played another snap for the Ravens or any other professional football team after that. He was waived by the team he had won a Super Bowl with a year prior and was never picked up by another team. In 2018, he officially retired from Football.

Rae Carruth – Conspiracy to commit Murder (1999)

Rae Carruth was a member of the talented 1997 NFL Draft Class, taken in the first round by the Carolina Panthers as a Wide Receiver coming out of Colorado. His best statistical year was his rookie year, where he racked up 545 yards and 4 Touchdowns while starting 14 games, and was even selected to the All-Rookie Team. After breaking his foot in his sophomore season, Carruth only ever played in 7 NFL games, and never caught another touchdown. Sometime in 1999, he plotted to hire a hitman to kill his pregnant girlfriend, due to her not wanting to abort his child. This took place on the night of November 16, 1999. His Girlfriend, Charica Adams, was shot four times in a drive-by shooting in her car by an associate of Carruth. Adams was rushed to a hospital and fell into a coma. Her child was born with permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy. Carruth was arrested, posted bond, and was cut by the Panthers shortly after. The Stakes would change when Adams died a month later. Carruth fled Charlotte for Tennessee and was found in the trunk of a friend’s car in a hotel parking lot. Carruth would be convicted of conspiracy to commit Murder in 2001, however, not First-Degree Murder, and therefore couldn’t qualify for the death penalty. Rae Carruth spent the next 17 years of his life in the North Carolina Prison System, until being released in late 2018. The son he tried to kill, Chancellor Lee Adams, graduated high school at the age of 21 last spring.