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NFL, Drugs and Prison: The ballad of Sam Hurd

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Sam Hurd as a Dallas Cowboy, where he was special teams captain

Photo: Gary Myrick, License: N/A

Gary Myrick

Hurd at his sentencing in Dallas

Photo: Wikicommons, License: N/A


Hurd, during his brief stint with the Chicago Bears before his arrest

“I’m a little nervous,” continues Hurd. “I just know my life is depending on everything that happens right now. I’m for sure not guilty of what they say.”

Just prior to Hurd’s address, Ethington asks Judge Solis for a 10-year sentence maintaining that there is one actual kilogram of cocaine in the case and that it was provided by the government. He points out that Hurd is a first-time offender who was addicted to marijuana, and is essentially guilty of drug talk. This stands in stark contrast to the prosecution’s request for life in prison without parole, which is based on the quantities of cocaine the informants claimed Hurd was looking to sell. Prosecutors also point to a pair of failed drug tests when Hurd was out on bail and his connection to Chavful as indicators of his lack of remorse.

“My motivation was to help my friend and my judgment was cloudy from my drug use,” says Hurd as members of his family quietly pray.” “I can feel the pain that I have caused my wife, my mom, my dad, my brothers and sisters, my friends and my community,” says Hurd, tearing up.

After initially suggesting a sentence approximating 27 years, Judge Solis settles on 15 years explaining that Hurd was involved in “cocaine agreements.” Hurd lets out a deep sigh and a mixture of relief and sorrow hangs in the air as U.S. Marshalls whisk him away. Corbin-Newsome makes her way towards the exit before turning to acknowledge that “15 years is better than life,” and that the family “will appeal.” Someone asks for Ethington’s quick take and he responds with a chuckle, “I’d say the prosecutor is a Saints fan.”

“It’s how you look at the law,” McCrum tells a throng of reporters just outside the federal building. “When you show up to help a drug deal happen, then by law, you are participating in a drug deal. Does that mean that Sam Hurd has customers, that he’s selling cocaine to people, that he himself is buying cocaine? No. The evidence doesn’t support that. At most, he was providing money to fund another friend[’s] purchase of cocaine. By law, that makes you part of a drug deal, but being a cocaine dealer—no. I’d say the evidence says no.”


Night has fallen over Dallas, with the lower temperatures making the Metroplex slightly more unbearable than usual. In one of the non-descript rooms located in Ethington’s downtown offices, Hurd’s spent legal team gathers around Bud Lights and assorted bags of chips. The pair of veteran counselors maintain that the story here is one of government overreach.

“I think the government orchestrated most of the activity,” says Jay Ethington. “The government prompted and scripted all of the conversations about cocaine and the judge acknowledged that. When we would state that in court, the government didn’t object to it or try to negate it. All of the cocaine activity, ... was initiated, prompted, pushed forward by the government ... So this was really a government creation of a case that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. That’s quite sad that somebody goes to prison because of a government creation.”

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