U.S. News

06.21.13

Football, Crime, and Allegations Against Aaron Hernandez

With reports of a possible arrest warrant for Aaron Hernandez, we take a look at other professional football players who have been charged with crimes, from O.J. Simpson to Ray Lewis.

Aaron Hernandez

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This week, the New England Patriots tight end has been the subject of fervid speculation regarding his alleged connection to the murder of a 27-year-old Bostonian. Various outlets have reported that police issued an arrest warrant for Hernandez on charges of obstruction of justice, but other sources say no such warrant has been issued. Also, there have been reports that Hernandez’s home-security system and cellphone were destroyed. Meanwhile, the former Florida Gator standout was recently accused in a lawsuit of shooting a man in the face after a strip-club altercation. On Thursday, the NFL Network reported on Hernandez’s week.

Jovan Belcher

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This was one of the saddest and most disturbing stories in sports history. On Dec. 1 of last year, the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker killed his girlfriend at home and later committed suicide, shooting himself at Arrowhead Stadium in front of his coach and general manager. Belcher was 25, his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, 22, and they left behind a three-month-old-daughter. Despite the tragedy, the Chiefs still played a game that weekend, beating the Carolina Panthers 27-21, and Coach Romeo Crennel spoke afterward about the team's mindset.

O.J. Simpson

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Who can forget the indelible images of that White Bronco being chased by a phalanx of cop cars on June 17, 1994? Or Johnnie Cochran’s famous assertion that “if the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit”? Simpson’s murder trial captivated America, and the public was shocked when the star running back, a former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL MVP, was acquitted of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Ray Lewis

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The legacy of the legendary Baltimore Ravens linebacker is primarily as a two-time champion and inspirational leader, not a former murder suspect. In 2000, Lewis was involved in a brawl that resulted in the stabbing deaths of two men. The former two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year was indicted on murder charges, but he ultimately pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and testified against two companions turned co-defendants. Still, Lewis has always maintained his innocence. In this 2010 interview, he explains why the ordeal may have saved his life.

Rae Carruth

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The Rae Carruth saga is sinister and heart-rending. The former Carolina Panthers wide receiver hired hit men to kill his pregnant on-again off-again girlfriend, arguably because she wanted to keep the child. Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an unoccupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. A silver lining: the baby boy was successfully delivered via Caesarean section, and though he suffers from cerebral palsy, he’s reportedly thriving.

Jim Dunaway

He may not be a household name, having played for the Buffalo Bills before the AFL-NFL merger, but the former All-Star defensive lineman was charged with murdering his ex-wife in 1998. She was found dead in a swimming pool with a fractured skull. A grand jury ultimately decided not to indict Dunaway, but his children won a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against him.

Donte Stallworth

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In 2009, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver hit and killed a 59-year-old construction worker while driving drunk. Immediately remorseful and cooperative with police, Stallworth pleaded guilty for DUI manslaughter and received a 30-day jail term, which was considered unfairly light by many, including the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In court, Stallworth said he accepted “full responsibility for this horrible tragedy.”

Michael Vick

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The current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has been convicted of a very different kind of crime: he served almost two years of federal jail time for running a cruel dog-fighting ring. He has been trying to rehabilitate his image by working with the humane society and lobbying against animal fighting, but many people can’t get over the images of those poor pit bulls.