I remember former Houston Texans (and now Washington Redskins) wide receiver David Anderson telling me a couple years ago about a program that the NFL offered players in which they could travel to prestigious universities during the off season and take graduate courses in entrepreneurship. If I recall correctly, Anderson took a several-week class at the Wharton School of Business, which to my knowledge makes him the first person in history to go from Colorado State to the Ivy League.
The courses were one of a handful of initiatives that the league has undertaken in order to make sure that its players are prepared for life after football, encouraging players to properly channel their competitive fire later in life in the business world.
While the league clearly encourages its players to have that "captain of industry" spirit, I don't think that Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd's little side venture that was revealed yesterday is what they have in mind.
In case you missed the story, let me lay it out for you (courtesy of the AP):
Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd was locked up in federal custody Thursday as his stunned teammates learned he had been charged with trying to set up a drug-dealing network following his arrest with more than a pound of cocaine.
U.S. Magistrate Young Kim ordered Hurd held until at least Friday while prosecutors and defense attorneys work out bond details before he is sent to Texas to face charges.
So let's start right there -- an active NFL wide receiver has been "trying to set up a drug-dealing network." Go back and read that one more time, and do it with the theme music of Season 1 of The Wire playing, and let that sink in for a minute. I'll go into more detail shortly.
For your convenience, here is your Wire theme music:
So how did Hurd get caught? Well....
Hurd, 26, was arrested Wednesday night after meeting with an undercover agent at a Chicago restaurant, according to a criminal complaint that says the player was first identified as a potential drug dealer over the summer as the NFL lockout was coming to an end.
Hurd told the agent that he was interested in buying five to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana per week to distribute in the Chicago area, the complaint said. He allegedly said he and a co-conspirator already distribute about four kilos of cocaine every week, but their supplier couldn't keep up with his demands. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds.
A typical Wednesday for an NFL player usually consists of treatment for injuries in the morning, practice in the middle of the day and film study into the late afternoon hours. It's a long day. So we now know that Hurd left a spirited day of preparation for the Bears' game Sunday with the Seahawks, and rather than going home and unwinding with a movie, a good book or some Call of Duty on the Xbox, he went into the city to go secure a supply chain for a multilayered citywide drug ring. Incredible.
The details on the negotiation and the dollar and drug amounts give you an idea for just how extensive an operation Hurd envisioned:
He agreed to pay $25,000 for each kilogram of cocaine and $450 a pound for the marijuana, according to the charges, and then said he could pay for a kilo of cocaine after "he gets out of practice." He walked out of the restaurant with the package and was arrested.
Go ahead and do the math on that -- Hurd wanted to distribute five to ten kilograms of cocaine at $25,000 per kilogram, and 1,000 points of marijuana per week at $450 a pound in the Chicago area. That's a weekly cash outlay of $575,000 to $700,000. When the crime reads that Hurd had an intent to distribute, we're not talking about dropping a dime bag on some kids in a McDonald's parking lot.
Sam Hurd wanted to be Stringer Bell. He wanted to be a drug kingpin. Or, depending on how thin he was stretched financially, maybe he needed to be.
In a bizarre way, I don't know whether to be disgusted or impressed. I mean, remove from the equation for one second the actual product that Hurd was dishing, and wrap your brain solely around the magnitude of the occupations this guy chose to put on his plate. By day, he was an NFL wide receiver, a vocation that the most minuscule fraction of a percent of elite athletes are able to attain. By night, he was setting the foundation for a business operation that would have had a nine-figure cash flow annually, when kicking on all of its unsavory cylinders.
It really makes you wonder -- which one, football or drug dealing, did Hurd see as his real job and which one did he see as his "side job"? Did he play football in order to provide the seed money for the drug operation? Was football basically just his neatly laundered store front, like Prop Joe with the toaster repair shop?
Or were his years of (relatively) low-dollar contracts in the NFL, including his newly signed deal in Chicago (3 years, $5 million), not enough to sustain the lifestyle Hurd wanted? (I can totally relate, by the way. I blog here every day to help supplement my multi-thousand dollar income from talk radio. Those TV dinners aren't gonna pay for themselves, ya know!)
In 2009, four years into his NFL career, Hurd established a charitable organization, Running with the Hurd, aimed at mentoring kids. The organization sponsored a football camp in the South Texas city of Harlingen last year.
Hurd's sister, Jawanda Newsome, told the San Antonio Express-News in 2008 that her brother was paying to fix up their parents' home as well as covering his younger brother's junior-college tuition. She said she worried about her brother because he was so prone to give his money away.
To a man, all of Hurd's teammates are shocked by the revelations of the wide receiver's "other job," his other life. Now we wait to see if rumors of other NFL players being mixed up in this mess are true, and if that's the case, then one of the most bizarre NFL-related stories in the last decade would become one of the most explosive in league history.
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Yeah, not exactly what the NFL had in mind when they decided to encourage their players to be entrepreneurial.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.