NFL Players Who Were Arrested But Kept Playing Anyway

The following article includes references to alleged domestic abuse, alcohol addiction, and a suicide threat.

There's an alarming number of NFL players who've been arrested over the years. To make matters worse, many of these athletes have been accused of multiple crimes. It seems that 2022 was a particularly difficult time period for professional football players, because many found themselves in trouble with the law that year. Take, for example, free agent NFL running back Adrian Peterson.

An NFL news release revealed that Adrian was arrested for an alleged domestic violence felony in February 2022. A reported argument between Adrian and an unnamed woman while on a flight to Houston, Texas led to the bust at LAX. "The plane had pulled out of the gate, but was forced to turn around and return due to an alleged verbal and physical altercation between a male suspect and female victim," an airport police PIO stated in part. The victim was believed to be Adrian's wife, Ashley Peterson. A spokesperson for the couple later claimed in a statement (via NBC News) that the argument simply stemmed from "a private misunderstanding between husband and wife" over the latter's wedding ring. 

While Adrian Peterson was not prosecuted and instead underwent counseling for alcohol and domestic violence, he appears to be among the NFL players who have continued their lives as normal after being arrested. While some sports stars have ended up behind bars, and other athletes have swiftly ruined their careers, many of the following footballers even went right back to playing their sport, almost as if nothing had ever happened. Here are some more NFL players who were arrested but kept playing anyway.

Aldrick Rosas played for the Jaguars after his hit-and-run

Former New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas' 2020 arrest was caught on camera in a video later shared by TMZ. In the clip, officers can be heard telling Rosas he was being arrested for hit-and-run. The football player had reportedly been driving recklessly when he T-boned another car and attempted to drive off. He then allegedly fled the scene while barefoot after he realized his vehicle was no longer operable. In the TMZ video, police addressed the injuries Rosas sustained in his attempt to flee. "Are you hurting anywhere?" the officer asked the NFL player. "Or are you just all bloodied up and not hurting?"

After a brief hospital visit, Rosas was charged with misdemeanor reckless driving and misdemeanor hit-and-run, as well as misdemeanor driving with a suspended license stemming from a previous DUI bust. A no contest plea deal led to the football player only serving a 30-day suspended jail sentence and three years of probation. He was also ordered to pay a number of fines. The Giants kept pretty quiet about Rosas' arrest at the time. "We are aware of the situation and have been in contact with Aldrick," the team simply shared in a statement, per ESPN. "We have no further comment at this time." 

Ultimately, the NFL punished Rosas with a four-game suspension, and he was later released by the Giants. However, the athlete went right back to playing football after he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kenny Britt's many arrests led to a one-game suspension

Former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt was arrested quite a few times. In 2011, the athlete was involved in a police chase after an officer attempted to pull him over for speeding in his Porsche. Officers busted Britt after they found him walking away from his car. The NFL star was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony of eluding a police officer and misdemeanors for lying to an officer or hindering apprehension and obstructing governmental function, according to Fox News. Britt was ultimately fined a mere $478 for his crimes after his felony was bumped down to a misdemeanor.

However, the football player got in trouble for resisting arrest and reckless driving that same year. Britt was also arrested for an alleged DUI in 2012 after he reportedly failed a field sobriety test, but he was later found not guilty, per SB Nation. Ultimately, Britt racked up eight arrests during his time with the Tennessee Titans, but he was only ever suspended for one game. This news likely shocked many NFL fans, because quite a few football players have been suspended for longer for far less than eight alleged offenses.

Elvis Dumervil wasn't punished for his road rage arrest

Former Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil found himself in legal trouble following a 2012 road rage incident in Miami, Florida. According to ESPN, a police report revealed that Dumervil was on the road following a Mercedes when another driver merged between the two. This resulted in an argument involving all three parties. Dumervil and Andy Aguste, who was a passenger in the Mercedes, reportedly lifted their shirts to reveal they were carrying guns while arguing with the driver who merged between their cars.

Unfortunately for Dumervil, a store employee backed up the accuser's recollection of this event. The former NFL player was ultimately arrested for alleged aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Following Dumervil's arrest, sources argued that the football player was not in possession of a gun during the incident. In the end, charges weren't filed against the football star for this case, leading Dumervil to state in part (via Fox News), "I'm just ready to continue my life."

This wasn't the only time Dumervil got in trouble with the law, however. He also previously faced assault and disturbing the peace charges following an alleged 2011 altercation with a parking lot attendant, per ESPN. These charges were later dropped — though Dumervil has a history of alleged dangerous behavior on the road, as well. He'd reportedly pleaded guilty in six other traffic cases by the time of his 2012 arrest. Despite all of this, the Denver Broncos player said nothing about a potential NFL suspension and instead went right back to football.

Pat McAfee was only suspended for one game

Former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee was arrested for public intoxication back in 2010. The athlete apparently made quite a scene given police reportedly found him swimming in a canal at the time of his arrest. The police report detailed McAfee's conversation with officers. When the football player was questioned about the amount of alcohol he'd consumed, he allegedly replied, "A lot 'cause I'm drunk," per ESPN. Law enforcement later found out McAfee's blood alcohol content was almost twice the state's legal limit.

The NFL alum was only suspended for one game, so his arrest didn't exactly end his career. Meanwhile, McAfee opened up about his public intoxication in a series of tweets he shared on the seven-year anniversary of his arrest. "7 yrs ago, at this exact minute, I was sitting in solitary confinement thinking 'You can't be buying 100 shots of tequila on Tuesday's Pat,'" the former football player penned in one tweet that included a screenshot of a news article about his arrest. "I thought my life was over," he wrote in a second tweet. "I knew it was going to be a giant distraction for the bye week.. I wasn't a good enough punter at that point."

McAfee went on to explain that he called his father to inform him of his arrest, but he and his mother had already heard the news. The athlete-turned-sports-analyst shared he turned his life around after former Colts manager Bill Polian gave him another shot.

Richard Sherman signed with the Buccaneers after his arrest

Free agent cornerback Richard Sherman was arrested in July 2021. The athlete allegedly attempted to break into the Washington state home of his mother- and father-in-law and faced a number of charges following the alarming incident, including burglary and domestic violence. 

More details came to light after EPSN obtained a recording of a 911 call placed by Sherman's wife, Ashley Moss. She reportedly revealed that the football player was drunk during the altercation. Moss also shared that Sherman had allegedly threatened suicide. He also reportedly attempted to fight police officers and crashed his car into a construction site. Thankfully, no one was harmed, and Sherman later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for criminal trespass and negligent driving, in addition to a construction zone speeding infraction as part of a plea deal in connection to the incident, per The New York Times. The football player was ordered to issue a payment to his father-in-law and the Washington State Department of Transportation, and was also hit with a fine of $1,325 and spent two days in jail. 

Expressing his remorse, Sherman stated in court (via AP News), "I'm grateful for the community we have and the way people continue to accept you even though you're a flawed human being and made a mistake." However, this arrest, which occurred during the NFL offseason, didn't stop Sherman from moving up in his career. The football player signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers upon returning to his sport later that same year.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Julian Edelman received a citation for vandalizing a stranger's car

Former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was hit with a misdemeanor vandalism citation in 2020 after police found him on top of a vehicle during a night out in Beverly Hills, per ESPN. He was accompanied by fellow athletes Paul Pierce and Danny Amendola that night. Edelman's arrest didn't pause his football career, but the incident did seem to affect him because he discussed it years later during an episode of the "Games with Names" podcast in 2022.

He and Pierce explained that they decided to help themselves to several servings of tequila after they were told they couldn't leave a restaurant due to an active robbery nearby. Edelman attempted to slide across the roof of a stranger's car once he was free to go home, but he was caught by the owner. They alerted police, and Edelman was then arrested. The former Patriots wide receiver blamed his pants for the incident. 

"It was my jeans," Edelman said on the podcast. "There was no slide, there was too much friction. ... Me, wearing straight jeans, go over there, and I kind of stuck. Homeboy gets out of [the] car, waves down a cop, they start hemming me up. Paul is over there. Paul had my back though. ... He's like, 'Nah, get off. He didn't do s**t, he didn't do s**t.'"

Aldon Smith got a second chance and then some

Former NFL player Aldon Smith's string of arrests put an end to his career ... temporarily. A 2013 DUI arrest led to Smith being placed on leave by the San Francisco 49ers. He was arrested once again in 2014 for making a false bomb threat at an airport, and the 49ers suspended him a second time. Smith returned to the team later that year, but it seems that he just couldn't stay out of trouble. The football player was arrested for misdemeanor vandalism, hit-and-run, and DUI. You'd think that this many arrests might threaten Smith's NFL career for good, but he was signed by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2015.

But eventually, the league's patience ran out. "He is now suspended without pay for a minimum of one year for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse," the NFL stated (via Sporting News). "Under the terms of the policy, Smith will be eligible to apply for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days before the one-year anniversary of the suspension."  Despite his numerous offenses, Smith resigned with the Raiders in 2016. But after yet another string of offenses, including alleged domestic violence, the football player was officially released by the Raiders in 2018. 

However, Smith was given another chance by the Dallas Cowboys when he signed a one-year contract with the team in 2020. "Life is good. I'm thankful. I'm blessed. I'm a Cowboy," the newly sober athlete wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post at the time.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

The NFL didn't hold Anthony Chickillo accountable

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Anthony Chickillo made headlines after he was arrested for allegedly getting violent with his girlfriend, Olympic athlete Alysha Newman, in 2019. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reported that Pennsylvania State Police revealed Chickillo and Newman began arguing over table games at a casino. Things reportedly took a violent turn after the couple entered their hotel room. Chickillo and Newman told police two different stories when recalling their fight.

Per records obtained by the outlet, Chickillo alleged that his girlfriend struck him first, and he then pushed her. Meanwhile, Newman claimed she struck the football player only after he held her "by the biceps and forced her against a wall and door of the hotel room causing injuries." While these stories reportedly did not match up, Chickillo did admit to pushing Newman. The football player was charged with misdemeanor simple assault, as well as harassment and criminal mischief, per CNN

The NFL put Chickillo on the Commissioner's Exempt List following this incident, but it was later determined the player was free to return to football after his charges were dropped. The league reportedly concluded they did not have enough evidence to suspend Chickillo.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

The New York Giants didn't punish Kyle Lauletta

Former New York Giants quarterback Kyle Lauletta was arrested in 2018 after he was caught driving recklessly. Weehawken, New Jersey Police released a statement via Twitter that detailed the incident. "Upon being directed by an officer to continue in his marked lane, Mr. Lauletta attempted to evade him, making an illegal turn and continuing towards Route 495, almost striking the officer," the statement read in part, before detailing Lauletta's charges: "He was then arrested and charged with eluding police, a third-degree crime, obstructing administration of law, and resisting arrest, which are disorderly persons offenses." He was hit with a number of motor vehicle charges, as well.

The Giants didn't punish Lauletta for his arrest. Instead, they decided to give him another chance despite the seriousness of his charges — though head coach Pat Shurmur publicly expressed his disappointment in his then-rookie QB. The athlete addressed his arrest while speaking to press upon his return to football. "The incident that happened last week is a terrible representation of who I am and what I stand for," he said in part, per In addition to publicly apologizing and taking responsibility, Lauletta recognized how he'd narrowly avoided jeopardizing his NFL career. "A lot of things run through your head when something like that happens," he said. "It was horrible. I don't plan on that happening ever again." 

Lauletta later pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense. On the condition that he not get into legal trouble for the next year, all other charges would be dropped.

Greg Hardy signed with the Cowboys after an arrest

Former Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Greg Hardy was arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2014 on domestic violence charges after he reportedly attacked his then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. This case was later dismissed, and Hardy went on to sign a multi-million-dollar deal with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. However, when photos released by Deadspin revealed the severity of Hardy's alleged attack on Holder that November, this led NFL fans to question the Cowboys' decision to sign Hardy.

The team's owner, Jerry Jones, issued a statement following the controversy. "While we did not have access to the photos that became public today, we were and are aware of the serious nature of this incident," he explained, per ESPN. "We as an organization take [this very] seriously. We do not condone domestic violence. We entered into the agreement with Greg fully understanding that there would be scrutiny and criticism. We have given Greg a second chance. He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career."

Hardy was later suspended for four games as punishment for the alleged domestic violence incident, and his one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys wasn't renewed. The athlete's disturbing history didn't end his sports career altogether though, because he went on to become a UFC fighter.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Jalen Carter returned to the NFL scouting combine one day after his arrest

Some might claim NFL draft prospect Jalen Carter seemingly tarnished his reputation before his career even took off. A warrant was issued for the athlete's arrest for his involvement in a January 2023 car accident that killed fellow University of Georgia football player Devin Willock as well as the team's recruiting staffer, Chandler LeCroy. That March, Carter turned himself in after investigators discovered that he had been racing Willock and LeCroy when they crashed their vehicle, with police reports revealing that at one point during the suspected race, Willock and LeCroy's vehicle "left the roadway, striking two power poles and several trees," per CBS News. Carter faced misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing.

After turning himself in, Carter posted a $4,000 bond and was released, per ESPN, with his arraignment hearing scheduled for that April. The football player's brief jail stay didn't seem to have much of an impact on his promising career (at least not initially), because he returned to the NFL scouting combine just one day after he was released. But this wasn't Carter's first alleged offense. He was also pulled over in September 2022. Body cam footage of the incident posted to YouTube revealed that the officer issued citations for the football player reportedly going over the speed limit as well as his excessive window tints.

"There is no question in my mind that when all of the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing," Carter tweeted in part regarding his 2023 legal trouble.