The NFL certainly isn’t the only organization where athletes run afoul of the law. Due to its popularity, NFL criminals achieve front-page status. While there are certainly more than a handful of criminals in pro football, we’ve narrowed it down to five of the most notorious.
1. Travis Henry
In 2002, the running back began his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and garnered 13 touchdowns. By 2004, Travis Henry’s hero status began to fade after an injury, and he was traded to the Tennessee Titans. The athlete’s substance abuse issues surfaced during his two years with the Titans. Following his release from the team, he signed with the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos’ head coach tried to support Henry’s substance abuse problems. But, after repeatedly testing positive for marijuana and the release of public documents for the unpaid child support of nine of his 11 children, Henry was released from the Broncos in 2008. He walked away with $6.7 million of his original $22.5 million four-year contract.
Henry eventually won a three-year spot in a Mississippi penitentiary for possession of cocaine. Although reinstated to the NFL after serving two years, Henry has remained sidelined.
2. Darryl Henley
No NFL player’s star shone brighter than Darryl Henley’s. He began a 76-game NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1989. But it came crashing down when the former UCLA All-American cornerback was convicted of drug trafficking in 1995.
Desperate to find a way out of his original 20-year sentence, Henley instead received an additional 21 years in 1997. The courts take the attempted murder of a judge and witness pretty seriously. Needless to say, attempting to hire a hitman wasn’t Henley’s best move.
3. Robert Rozier
Unfortunately, Robert Rozier’s criminal activity surpasses his time as a defensive end for the St. Louis Cardinals. He followed his two-year NFL career with a gig as a serial killer. In an attempt to join Yahweh ben Yahweh’s secret Brotherhood, Rozier proved himself a killer of the “white devil.” He offered up the body parts of seven victims in a show of devotion.
His career as a murderer earned him a 22-year prison sentence. After serving a mere 10 years, Rozier was released into the witness protection program. The third and final strike to Rozier’s alter ego came when it was discovered he’d written $2,000 in bad checks under his new name. Rozier is now a lifetime member of Mule Creek State Prison.
4. Michael Vick
Michael Vick’s impressive career as a quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons came to a halt in 2007 after he admitted to running a dog-fighting operation.
After serving 21 months behind bars for grievous offenses like hanging nonperforming dogs, Vick signed a $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. He remains one of the most hated football players of all time, albeit one of the richest.
5. O.J. Simpson
The former Heisman Trophy winner and running back for the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers was the NFL’s golden boy in the ’70s. Following his stellar on-field performance, O.J. Simpson turned his star power into Hollywood success with a lucrative career as an actor and announcer.
Simpson’s professional life will always dim in comparison to his criminal pursuits. Although LA County prosecutors failed to convict him for the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, Simpson was nonetheless found guilty in the court of public opinion. He was also held responsible for their deaths during the subsequent civil trial.
Simpson finally served time as a result of the 2007 felony kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, and armed robbery of the inhabitants of a Las Vegas hotel room. His rage earned him a mere nine years in prison. He was paroled in 2017.