Thousands of youngsters grow up dreaming of starring in the National Football League (NFL). NFL players are revered as Gods by fans, and the biggest stars earn unfathomable riches just for playing football on the biggest stage. Only around two in ten of those drafted ever make a career for themselves in the NFL, those who do make it dedicate their lives to the sport. Well, most do. Some literally throw their careers down the pan.
Nobody really knows why so many NFL and elite sports stars do the most ridiculous and sometimes horrible things when they hit the big time. Perhaps it is being unable to deal with earning so much money at an early age? It could be they think they are untouchable because they are household names. Whatever the reasons, the following three players off-the-field activities resulted in them ending their sporting careers prematurely.
Ray Rice has the world at his feet. The running back stood out from the crowd whenever he played for Rutgers Scarlet Knights, so much so that the Baltimore Ravens drafted him in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft and signed him to a four-year deal worth $2.805 million in addition to a $1.1 million signing bonus. His rookie season was nothing to shout about, but Rice began showing he was an exciting and explosive player, one that had Ravens fans looking for the biggest online sportsbook bonus to place on Ravens victories whenever Rice was named in the starting line-up; he was that good.
Rice continued improving year on year and was named in the Pro Bowl in 2009, 2011, and 2012. However, things took a sinister turn in 2014 when he and his then-fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer were arrested in Atlantic City after a physical altercation. Surveillance footage emerged of Rice punching Palmer about the head, rendering her unconscious before dragging her out of an elevator.
A court indicted Rice on third-degree aggravated assault, but criminal charges were later dropped. The Ravens terminated Rice’s contract, resulting in him suing them for $3.5 million. Ravens and Rice settled out of court, but the details were never revealed.
Rae Carruth could have enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a wide receiver but spent 18 years in jail for conspiracy to commit murder, shooting in an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child.
Carruth was drafted in the first round (27th overall pick) by the Carolina Panthers in 1997. He signed a four-year $3.7 million deal with a $1.7 million signing bonus; Carruth had hit the big time. His rookie season was respectable, but his second season ended on the opening day courtesy of a broken right foot. He played a further six games in 1999 before his heinous crime surfaced.
Cherica Adams, a real estate agent who had casually dated Carruth, was gunned down in the street. Before Adams died, she called 911 and said Carruth had stopped his car in front of her; another pulled alongside her and opened fire four times. Adams later died, but her unborn son survived, although doing so with permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy. Police found Carruth hiding in the trunk of his car. He was found not guilty of first-degree murder and spared the death penalty but sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison. Carruth served 18 years and was released on October 22, 2018.
Henry Ruggs’ NFL career lasted less than two seasons before he became a free agent. The Las Vegas Raiders drafted him as the 12th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he slotted straight into the team, starting 13 games and receiving 26 times for 452 yards plus two touchdowns.
Season 2, in 2021, saw Ruggs start seven games and improve on those figures, but his $16.67 million salary got the better of him. Like many young, rich sports stars, Ruggs bought a high-spec sportscar, a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Police clocked Ruggs traveling at 156 miles per hour before he plowed into the back of a Toyota RAV4 at 120 miles per hour, resulting in the Toyota bursting into flames. The occupant, Tina Tintor, and her dog died in the fire.
Ruggs’ blood alcohol level was measured at 0.161%, more than twice the Nevada limit. He faces double-digit years in jail for driving under the influence resulting in death, plus an additional reckless driving charge.