15 Most Notorious NFL player criminals

As we await the forthcoming resolution on the Aaron Hernandez trial, we revisited below 15 convicted former (and current) NFL players. These are the most high profile either in terms of the fame of the player involved or the visibility of the case, or both. In all cases it’s a shame to have seen such talent get wasted, and it’s a reminder that taking money and fame for granted can have severe consequences.

1. O. J. Simpson, RB, Bills (69-77) 49ers (78-79)

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 5:  O.J. Simpson (C) appears in court with attorneys Gabriel Grasso (L) and Yale Galanter prior to sentencing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center December 5, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart were sentenced on 12 charges, including felony kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy related to a 2007 confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel. (Photo by Issac Brekken-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Issac Brekken-Pool/Getty Images)








The murder involving Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson is arguably the most high profile criminal case for an NFL player in history. While Simpson was found not guilty, he was not so lucky in civil court. Separate from this, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in jail (a minimum of 9 without parole) for armed robbery and kidnapping.

2. Lawrence Taylor, LB, Giants (81-93)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 03:  Former New York Giants player Lawrence Taylor waves to the crowd prior to their game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium on November 3, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)








Taylor is arguably the best defensive player in the history of the league but unfortunately he couldn’t keep his nose clean off the field. Literally. While his crimes pale in comparison to some on this list, Taylor’s long history of cocaine abuse and soliciting prostitutes is very well documented. Most recently Taylor was arrested for having sex with a 16 year old prostitute and charged with statutory rape.

3. Michael Vick, QB, Falcons (01-06) Eagles (09-13) Jets (14)

Sussex, VA - NOVEMBER 25:  Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick (R) leaves Surry County Circuit Court after entering a guilty plea on two felony counts connected to dog fighting on November 25, 2008 in Sussex, Virginia. Under a plea agreement, Vick, who is currently serving a term in prison for federal dog fighting charges, will serve one-year of probation for the state charges. He is scheduled to be released on July of 2009.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)

(Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)








The former $100 million quarterback was the league’s prized star athlete and had everything going for him before it all came crashing down for his involvement running a dog fighting ring. It must be noted he’s one of the few guys on this list that has since turned his life around.

4. Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens (96-12)

370715 06: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis prior to a press conference June 9, 2000 at the team's training complex in Owings Mills, Md. The murder charges that against Lewis were dropped and he wanted to close the chapter and return to playing football. (Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers)










Lewis was ultimately found guilty of obstruction of justice only, but his alleged involvement in the fatal stabbing of two men will forever cast a negative shadow over his career’s legacy.

5. Darren Sharper, S, Packers (97-04) Vikings (05-08) Saints (09-10)

LOS ANGELES, CA  FEBRUARY 20:  Former NFL safety Darren Sharper, left, and his attorney, Blair Berk, center, listen as his other attorney Leonard Levine, right, addresses the court as Sharper pleads not guilty to charges of allegedly drugging and raping a pair of women he met at a West Hollywood nightclub, in a Los Angeles Superior courtroom February 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Sharper's bail has been increased from $200,000 to $1 million. (Photo by Bob Chamberlin-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bob Chamberlin-Pool/Getty Images)








Sharper just agreed to a guilty plea deal in a case that has to be one of the most shocking and sordid in NFL player history. His serial pattern of drugging and raping women is a haunting story that no one saw coming, as he was well thought of and liked around the league.

6. Rae Carruth, WR, Panthers (97-99)

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 14:  Rae Carruth #83 of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sidelines during a game against the San Diego Chargers on September 14, 1997 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Panthers defeated the Chargers 26-7. (Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)

(Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)









Carruth has been in jail since being found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in 2001. He has a projected release date of October, 2018. He allegedly hired hitmen to murder his 8 months pregnant girlfriend. The woman tragically died from the gun shot wounds, but not before miraculously giving birth to her baby.

7. Ryan Leaf, QB, Chargers (98-00) Cowboys (01)

GREAT FALLS, MT - APRIL 02:  In this handout image provided by the Cascade County Sheriff?s Office, former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf is seen in a police booking photo April 2, 2012 in Great Falls, Montana.  Leaf was arrested on charges of burglary, theft and criminal possession of dangerous drugs.  (Photo by Cascade County Sheriff?s Office via Getty Images)

(Photo by Cascade County Sheriff?s Office via Getty Images)









The former 2nd overall pick who is widely viewed as the biggest draft bust in NFL history has had a long history with drugs.  He was mostly recently arrested for felony burglary and drug possession.

8. Nate Newton, G, Cowboys (86-98) Panthers (99)

15 Sep 1996:  Offensive lineman Nate Newton of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas.  The Colts won the game, 25-24. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr  /Allsport

Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport








Newton was arrested in Louisiana for transporting 213 pounds of marijuana. Five weeks later, he was arrested in Texas for carrying 175 pounds. He has reportedly since found religion and turned his life around.

9. Dave Meggett, RB, Giants (89-94) Patriots (95-97) Jets (98)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 28:  Running back Dave Meggett #30 of the New York Giants runs with the ball during a game against the Washington Redskins at Giants Stadium October 28, 1990 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Giants won 21-10.  (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)











Bill Parcells may have loved Meggett as a player but off the field he has a history of sexual misconduct. Meggett is currently serving a 30 year prison sentence for robbery and rape.

10. Lawrence Phillips, RB, Rams (96-97) Dolphins (97)

28 Sep 1997:  Running back Lawrence Phillips #21 of the St. Louis Rams carries the football during the Rams 35-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders at UMAX Stadium in Oakland, California. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw  /Allsport

Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport










Phillips could have been one of the most gifted backs in the NFL but he just couldn’t stay out of trouble. He was constantly in trouble due to assault case after assault case. He’s currently in jail for at least the next 18 years because of it. Edit: and just yesterday, Phillips is now suspected of murdering his cellmate in jail.

11. Cecil Collins, RB, Dolphins (99)

21 Aug 1999:  Cecil Collins #34 of the Miami Dolphins moves with the ball during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Dolphins defeated the Chargers 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck  /Allsport

Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck /Allsport










The write up for Phillips could just as easily be for Collins. After getting kicked out of LSU for being unable to stay out of trouble despite ridiculous talent, Collins quickly burst onto the NFL scene flashing his immense talent. Unfortunately he would end up on IR that first year and broke into the home of his neighbor during his time away from football. He was released from jail in 2013.

12. Robert Rozier, DE, Cardinals (79)

Rozier’s NFL career never amounted to much but his case was extremely high profile. Rozier reportedly joined a black supremacist group cult called “The Brotherhood” and murdered seven people carrying out cult orders. Rozier only spent 10 years in jail for those murders in exchange for testifying against the organization, but was later sentenced to 25 years to life for check fraud because of a no tolerance policy.

13. Darryl Henley, CB, Rams (89-94)

13 Nov 1994: Defensive end Darryl Henley of the Los Angeles Rams scowls on the field during their 20-17 loss to the the Los Angeles Raiders at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California.

Henley was on trial for trafficking cocaine when he reportedly attempted to have both a witness and the judge in the case killed by hiring hitmen. He’s serving a 41 year sentence.

14. Eric Napolski, LB, Patriots (88-89) Colts (89)

Napolski is serving a life sentence without parole for reportedly murdering the boyfriend of a woman he was involved with. The woman was thought to have received a substantial amount of money in the event of the man’s death, so the murder was reportedly financially motivated. Napolski wasn’t a well known NFL player but the case garnered national attention.

15. Leonard Little, DE, Rams (98-09)

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 13: Leonard Litte #91 of the St. Louis Rams looks on from the bench late in the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 13, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Rams 47-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)








Little was involved in a fatal car accident that killed a woman 1998. Though he was allegedly drunk, he received four years of probation at the time. He didn’t learn his lesson, though, and he was charged once again for driving under the influence in 2004. He was ultimately acquitted of that DWI as well and sentenced to probation again.

About Andrew Juge

I write about football.