Former Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges he tried to buy cocaine and marijuana to set up a drug distribution network.
The 27-year-old Hurd apologized to U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis in Dallas and said he intended to plead guilty to the charges against him.
Hurd’s guilty plea means he is now facing a minimum of 10 years imprisonment for conspiracy to possess cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute.
Jay Ethington, one of Hurd’s attorneys, said that they had been working with the prosecution for months to reach a reasonable plea deal that would satisfy both sides. Prosecutors wanted Hurd to acknowledge certain allegations in the plea agreement, which will be taken into consideration at his sentencing hearing in September.
However, Ethington told The Chicago Tribune that he plans to contest Hurd’s sentencing, contending that the former receiver did not engage in drug trafficking to the extent that the prosecution alleges.
“He’s a marijuana freak,” Ethington told the newspaper. “He loves marijuana. He’s addicted to high-grade marijuana.”
Hurd last played with the Bears in 2011 before he was arrested outside of a Chicago-area steakhouse after he accepted a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover officer, according to documents prosecutors filed in the case. Prosecuting attorneys say Hurd told the officer that he wanted to purchase up to 10 kilograms of cocaine a week at $25,000 per kilo.
His arrest led the Bears to release him from the team.
Several months later, Hurd was back in court after failing two drug tests and allegedly trying to arrange another drug buy.
Two men who were linked to the alleged attempt to buy the drugs have pleaded guilty and are scheduled to testify against him.
Hurd spent five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before signing a contract with the Bears in 2011 that was reportedly worth up to $5.15 million. He had eight receptions for 109 yards with the Bears in 2011. For his career he had 53 receptions for a total of 739 yards.