NFL, Drugs and Prison: The ballad of Sam Hurd
Published: December 11, 2013
Corbin-Newsome describes their childhood in Denver Heights as typical, with a Brady Bunch feel due to the sets of three brothers and three sisters. Mother Gloria Corbin worked as a unit secretary at Santa Rosa Hospital, where she is still employed, and father Samuel Hurd Jr. was a janitor with the San Antonio Independent School District. Corbin-Newsome credits her parents for being great providers and says that although the family was poor, she and her siblings never knew it growing up.
Nicknamed Bird by his grandmother for his long neck, Sam soon gravitated to sports and his earliest football memories come from his time at Edgar Allan Poe Middle School. In emails, he writes fondly about receiving his first jersey and the awesome sense of unity that he felt as part of the team. It was at George Washington Brackenridge High School though, under the tutelage of Coach Willie Hall, where Hurd’s game would flourish.
“Well, the first couple of years he was just a regular guy; didn’t think anything special,” says Hall, who has known Hurd since he was a toddler. “His third year he started to look like somebody that could make a difference in the game. He had a great work ethic, a great attitude, very disciplined. He just did things right and we knew that if he kept on that path that started in his junior year that he was gonna do good.”
While the three-sport letterman’s talent on the field was becoming increasingly noticeable, for brother-in-law Reggie Newsome, it was Hurd’s game against Boerne during his senior year that elevated him to the next level. With Brackenridge trailing just before the half and 30 seconds on the clock, Hurd flew down the field to score a touchdown and lift the crowd. Newsome remembers him going on to score a total of five touchdowns in the rain that day.
“The one that stands out in my mind was Harlandale,” says Hall, recalling a match up against the number one team in the city at the time. “We met up against Harlandale and I think he scored seven touchdowns in that game. One of the other kids came up; it was the quarterback. He said ‘Coach we can’t throw to Sam every time.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ And then he thought about it and said, ‘Coach you’re right. They can’t stop him.’”
“I loved it because he let you play the game like you feel in love with it,” writes Hurd from the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, just outside of Dallas, about his time under Hall’s tutelage. “I remember just enjoying every day playing for him and always thinking back on what else I could have done better to make the future, which is my past now, better.”
Growing up in Mother Gloria’s house, higher education was an expectation and like Jawanda and his brother Anthony before him, Sam was soon off to college. He recalls the excitement of leaving San Antonio for the fresh scenery of Northern Illinois University. At NIU he finally experienced snow and on the field he excelled, amassing 143 receptions, 2,322 yards and 21 touchdowns before graduating with a degree in communications. It was also in college where he first used marijuana, which he blames for his current incarceration.