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From NFL player to convicted felon: Ex-wide receiver Sam Hurd gets 15 years for drug scheme

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    FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2011, file photo, Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd watches teammates practice during NFL football training camp in Bourbonnais, Ill. Hurd was sentenced Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, to 15 years in prison for his role in starting a drug-distribution scheme while playing for the Bears, completing a steep downfall that ended his football career. Hurd, 28, received the punishment in a federal courtroom in Dallas after pleading guilty in April to one count of trying to buy and distribute large amounts of cocaine and marijuana. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)The Associated Press

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    Mike McCrum, lead attorney for former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd, speaks to reporters outside a federal court building after Hurd's sentencing in Dallas, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Hurd was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in starting a drug-distribution scheme while playing for the Chicago Bears, completing a steep downfall that ended his football career and left his future in tatters. (AP Photo/LM Otero)The Associated Press

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    Gloria Corbin, right, mother of former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd, is led by an unidentified family member from the federal court building after the sentencing of her son, in Dallas on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Hurd was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in starting a drug-distribution scheme while playing for the Chicago Bears, completing a steep downfall that ended his football career and left his future in tatters. (AP Photo/LM Otero)The Associated Press

Once an NFL wide receiver and local hero with a $5 million contract, Sam Hurd was reduced to being a convicted felon in orange jail scrubs pleading with a judge to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison.

The 28-year-old Hurd was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for his role in starting a drug-distribution scheme while playing for the Chicago Bears.

Hurd pleaded guilty in April to one count of trying to buy and distribute large amounts of cocaine and marijuana, which carries a maximum of life imprisonment.

Hurd walked into court with a handwritten speech, but often strayed from it.

In the end, U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis gave him a much shorter sentence than the 27 to 34 years recommended by federal sentencing calculations.