NFL, Drugs and Prison: The ballad of Sam Hurd
Published: December 11, 2013
It’s a blistering afternoon in downtown Dallas. Inside the confines of the polished Earle Cabell Federal Building, the pings and whirs of metal detectors and x-ray machines cascade off the gypsum walls. A massive rendering of Howard Chandler Christy’s Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States rests slightly above members of Samuel Hurd’s family who have traveled 275 miles from San Antonio in search of justice.
After an elevator ride and another round of security checks, they take their seats in the United States District Court where Judge Jorge Solis will hand down sentencing to 28-year-old Samuel George Hurd III, aka inmate number 44162-424. Hurd, alum of Brackenridge High School and former Dallas Cowboys standout, has pled guilty to a drug trafficking charge and is facing life in prison. Thus far his case has been drawn out for more than two years.
“As a family, we are having faith in God that all will be well with his sentencing,” says Jawanda Corbin-Newsome, Hurd’s sister. “Samuel is willing to take responsibility for his actions in the matter. He has been truthful and honest in his role. What is not fair is that they are trying to make him out to be more than he is; a drug lord, a kingpin. That is not Samuel. Never has been and never will be.”
“The case is complex, but no different than any other cases that are tried out of the public eye,” continues Corbin-Newsome. “We pray that the judge is fair in his sentencing. So far, the prosecutors have not been. They have a young black man and one with a name and in the public eye that they can use for their own selfish and personal reasons to score points, promotions, re-elections and make an example of. This has been a difficult time for my family, but we are strong and we will stay strong for Samuel.”
Inside the courtroom, Hurd’s lead council Mike McCrum, a graduate of South San High School, reviews his notes. His other attorney, Jay Ethington, who has represented athletes including Michael Irvin and Roy Tarpley, thumbs through a federal sentencing guidelines manual.
When Hurd enters the courtroom he is draped in bright orange prison garb that stands in stark contrast to the suits on display. He quickly acknowledges his family through his eyes, with no discernable smile or frown. It’s hard not to notice the bright silver shackles that swallow his ankles or the faded blue prison shoes that cover his feet. For the man who caught Tony Romo’s first pass in the National Football League, San Antonio’s Indiana Street must feel far away.
“I do remember him being born and coming home,” recalls Corbin-Newsome, the eldest of six children in her family. “I remember sitting at the edge of his bouncer and saying, ‘Mom, wow, he’s tall.’ She laughed and said, ‘Yes, he is long for a baby,’” his sister remembers.