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Drug Dealing Gets Sam Hurd 15 Years in Prison

DALLAS (CN) - Former NFL receiver Sam Hurd was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his role in a marijuana- and cocaine-distribution ring that allegedly involved his teammates with the Dallas Cowboys.

U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis could have sentenced Hurd, 28, of San Antonio, to a maximum of life in prison, but was sympathetic that Hurd was a first-time offender.

Hurd gave a tearful apology, blaming his actions on an addiction to marijuana and asked Solis for leniency.

"I regret the actions that caused me to lose my football career," Hurd said at his sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon. "My life is made up of good fortune and the train wreck of bad decisions that I have made."

Hurd signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006 as an undrafted free agent from Northern Illinois University. He left Dallas for the Chicago Bears in 2011. He was released by the Bears in December 2011 after a meeting with an undercover agent at a Chicago steakhouse led to his arrest. Prosecutors said Hurd wanted to sell as much as 4 kilograms of cocaine a week in Chicagoland and half a ton of marijuana. Hurd then bought a kilogram of cocaine from the agent, prosecutors said.

While Hurd was free on bond and awaiting trial, Jesse Tyrone Chavful, 46, Hurd's cousin and co-defendant, was arrested in June 2012 after trying to buy 5 kilograms of cocaine and 200 pounds of marijuana on Hurd's behalf, resulting in Hurd's second arrest.

Hurd pleaded guilty in April to a superceding indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated published on Tuesday, Hurd said he smoked high-grade marijuana from California "all day, every day" for most of his professional football career.

"I didn't want to hear anyone trying to tell me I had a problem," he told the magazine. "Whatever was considered the loudest weed in California - I wanted a notch above that. I had educated myself on different strains and potencies and growing techniques. I was very selective. It was like wine."

Hurd said most of the drugs from California he obtained were either for himself or shared at cost with friends, including 20 to 25 teammates with the Cowboys. Federal officials were unable to produce evidence Hurd made a profit selling drugs to teammates, SI reported.

"I was what you call love," Hurd said. "I'm in the NFL, and I'm gonna ask people for a few hundred dollars on top of what I paid for it? Nah. Slide me what I got it for and take it. Enjoy it."

Hurd reportedly believes "at least half" of all NFL players smoke marijuana during the football season - a "conservative estimate."

Chavful and Toby Lujan, 28, pleaded guilty to their roles in the ring. Chavful was sentenced to 127 months in federal prison in October, while Lujan will be sentenced on Jan. 8, 2014, prosecutors said.

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