IRVING, Texas – I’m not going to pretend I knew Sam Hurd well.
The news of his arrest two years ago was shocking. Reading the back story on The MMQB of what ultimately led to his 15-year sentencing in federal prison on Wednesday was jaw-dropping.
Never once would I have looked at Hurd as a drug kingpin. Nobody at Valley Ranch did. Since Hurd’s arrest, so many people on staff said he would have been the last person they would have suspected to be involved in drug dealing.
Our time with the players is limited during the week. We get roughly 45 minutes a day in the locker room and most of the time we are left talking to ourselves or circling the outer ring of the locker room looking for players to interview.
The questions are mostly about football, but you try and sprinkle in other questions in casual conversations about family or other interests or people you know that they might know. You’re trying to build up a trust so that the player will believe you will be fair with them.
But you don’t really get to know them the way you would know your good friends. Five- or 10-minute conversations don’t lead to much depth. Our dealings with the players are mostly superficial. You get to know a handful of them well, but it is always on an arm’s length basis. That’s just part of the deal.
When I did talk to Hurd, he was always upbeat. He was engaging. He thanked and praised God in a lot of his answers. He was a frequent visitor to the Cowboys’ various charity endeavors, unafraid to talk to a sick child or offer a word of encouragement. During training camp, he would be one of the last players to leave the field, almost always making sure he would catch extra passes off the Jugs machine.
That he smoked marijuana with 20-25 teammates, as the story said, does not surprise me. Maybe I should be shocked. Maybe I’m too cynical.
Only eight players remain with the Cowboys from when Hurd was on the team. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher is one of them.
“At the end of the day, you got to have a soft place in your heart for a guy like that with family, kids,” Hatcher said.
Hatcher said it was a sad situation. He’s right. It is sad. Hurd threw away a chance to change the circumstances of his family for generations. He will pay a price for his wrongdoing. One day he will be released from prison hopefully a changed man.
Right now Hurd is a cautionary tale for everybody.