Not long ago, TMZ reported that Henry Ruggs was the driver in a fiery car crash in downtown Las Vegas that left at least one person dead, although they did say that Ruggs would be OK.
The other driver was killed in the crash, however.
This is the photo circulating of the aftermath of the crash:
Ruggs’ car is the one on the right, the Corvette. It was clearly involved in a head-on collision.
When your car looks like that after a crash, it typically means you were the one at fault.
Coupled with the fact that the crash occurred at 3:40am, the obvious implication is that alcohol and/or drugs were involved.
Now we’re seeing this:
I have never heard that term “DUI resulting in death,” I’m assuming it’s DUI manslaughter, which is a felony. I hate to get into the football implications in the wake of such a tragedy, but this is likely the end of Henry Ruggs’ career in the NFL. In addition to whatever injuries he sustained, he’s facing serious prison time for this. From what I can tell, the max sentence for DUI manslaughter is 15 years.
I don’t know why or how rich and famous athletes drink and drive. I really don’t.
No doubt there will also be rumblings about how “this is what happens when you put professional athletes in Las Vegas,” but I would point you to the case of former Saints and Patriots receiver Donte Stallworth, who while drunk driving, hit and killed a man in Miami back in 2009. Stallworth, however, only served 24 days in jail. I guess it was because the man he killed was illegally crossing the highway–it seems like a different situation to Ruggs. Stallworth was suspended for the entire 2009 NFL season but actually returned to the NFL and played from 2010-2012.
It’s uncertain whether Ruggs will get off as easily as Stallworth did, but he definitely won’t see the NFL playing field for a while at best. Times have also changed in the NFL, partly as a result of Stallworth’s actions back in 2009.
If you remember back around that time, the NFL was dealing with a serious problem where it was perceived as a league full of criminals and miscreants. Pacman Jones was the poster boy of bad behavior for his various altercations at strip clubs and whatnot, but he looks like a choir boy compared to some of the stuff other guys did. Ben Roethlisberger has a pretty bad track record dating back to the mid-late 2000s, including a sexual assault charge in Georgia. You had the Plaxico Burress gun situation in 2008 where he accidentally shot himself in the leg while at a club in NYC. Burress served 20 months in prison–yeah 20 months for accidentally shooting yourself, while Stallworth got 24 days for killing someone. Then you had the Mike Vick dogfighting stuff in 2007. He got 2 years.
And who could forget the shocking Aaron Hernandez story from 2013. There was also the horrible situation with Lawrence Phillips in 2005. You had the tragic Jovan Belcher ordeal in 2012, where he shot his girlfriend 9 times, killing her, then drove to the Chiefs facility at 8:00am–on the day of a home game against the Carolina Panthers no less–and shot himself in the head right in front of Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, as well as Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel as he heard the sirens of the police arriving.
There was about a 10 year period where NFL players were doing some seriously fucked up shit and getting into a lot of trouble.
The NFL has largely cleaned up its image since then, and while I could be wrong, it has been some time since we have had a major NFL criminal scandal. The most recent stuff I can remember is Aldon Smith and Reuben Foster. Obviously you have DeShaun Watson and his stuff going on right now, but none of that is violent.
This website, NFLArrest.com, keeps track of the number of players arrested every year, and it seems to be in decline since about 2014:
Whether NFL players are really behaving better these days or the NFL is just getting better at covering it up and keeping it out of the media and off social media, it’s anyone’s guess. Things do appear to be going in the right direction.
I wonder if the NFL–and the Las Vegas legal system–is going to come down hard on Ruggs here in an effort to avoid losing control. Things have been relatively quiet for the NFL on the player legal troubles front for some time, and they are probably determined to keep it that way.
Also, Las Vegas, while it’s known as the Sin City, is a major tourist destination. They want to maintain an image of safeness and order, and cannot tolerate crime in that city. They don’t want to scare away tourists.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to Henry Ruggs. He’s definitely not going to play again in 2021, though.
There is one additional case I want to bring to attention here that might give us some indication about what’s going to happen to Ruggs: Leonard Little from back in 1998:
After leaving a birthday party in 1998, Little crashed into and killed Susan Gutweiler in St. Louis, Missouri who was on her way to pick up her son from a concert. When tested, his blood alcohol content was 0.19 percent, 0.11 points exceeding the legal limit of 0.08 in the state of Missouri. Little received four years probation and was ordered to undergo a thousand hours of community service.
He didn’t serve any jail time at all. He was a rookie at the time, too, and still went on to play 12 seasons in the NFL.
Obviously the Leonard Little situation was a long time ago, and times have changed.
Something tells me that in the age of social media, where the Ruggs car crash photos are already circulating all over social media, he’s not going to get off quite as easily as guys in the past.