The sad case of Sam Hurd

April, 12, 2013
4/12/13
8:58
AM ET
It was kind of shocking to see former Cowboys wide receiver Sam Hurd in a federal courtroom in Dallas and hear him say, "I'm sorry for everything I've done."

Hurd pled guilty to trying to buy cocaine and marijuana to set up a drug-distribution network.

Hurd now faces a minimum 10-year sentence for conspiracy to possess cocaine and marijuana with the intent to distribute. His arrest in December 2011 shocked many who knew him with the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears.

At the time of his arrest, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett stopped in his tracks and expressed shock. Several former teammates went silent or expressed disappointment.

But the overall consensus was this: Who really is Sam Hurd?

In 2006, the undrafted free agent from San Antonio was try to everything possible to make the Cowboys roster. He told me he wanted to do everything Terrell Owens did: Eat, drink, even work out the same way.

Hurd made amazing leaping catches in training camp practices and preseason games. For two seasons, Hurd and Miles Austin were on the bottom of the depth chart looking up at Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton and T.O.

Hurd showed flashes that he could be a productive player. His first career touchdown was a 51-yarder against the New York Giants in 2007. Eventually, Austin surpassed Hurd on the depth chart, Owens was released, Roy Williams was acquired in a trade and Dez Bryant was drafted.

Dez's arrival marked the end of Hurd's time with the Cowboys as Hurd's agent, Ian Greengross, requested a trade. He was released on July 25, 2011.

Hurd was remembered as a quiet player who talked about God and tried to stay humble. He was a likable player in the Cowboys locker room and seemed to need a fresh start.

He got just that when he was signed by the Chicago Bears. But even there, Hurd never could become what he wanted to be -- an elite NFL wide receiver.

In December 2011, Hurd's secret life moved to the forefront when he was arrested outside a Chicago-area steakhouse after allegedly accepting a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover officer. Prosecutors alleged Hurd told the officer and an informant at the steakhouse that he wanted to purchase up to 10 kilograms of cocaine a week for $25,000 per kilogram.

Somehow, Hurd's goals of becoming a solid NFL player went way off track as a new desire took over.

To see Hurd now is sad. His story shouldn't have ended this way because he had so many people rooting for his success.

But in the end, all Hurd could do is apologize for his actions, as terrible as they may be.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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