Two months ago, the New York Jets signed unheralded free-agent running back Mike Goodson to a three-year, $6.9 million contract because they fell in love with his upside: He plays fast.
Turns out he lives fast, too.
Goodson's legal issues didn't start with his May 17 arrest in New Jersey on drug and weapons charges, which could result in prison time. In his previous NFL stops, with the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders, his personal life spilled into the courts.
He was sued for paternity and child support by three women from August 2010 to May 2011, according to court documents in North Carolina and in Texas, where he grew up. He has fathered at least six children with those women, one of whom he lived with for two years, records show.
One of the women, who dropped her initial case, is planning to re-file a paternity action next week, according to her attorney.
An investigation into Goodson's background uncovered no criminal activity prior to the May 17 arrest, but there has been a string of incidents that have led to legal action against him.
Goodson didn't pay a $56,465 bill at a Houston-area jewelry store, which included the purchase of a $37,500 Breitling watch, according to court records. The store sued him, and after interest and fees, he ended up paying $84,423.44. The amount was garnished from his Raiders paychecks, according to records in Texas and California.
Earlier, while with the Panthers, Goodson was sued three times by two apartment complexes in the Charlotte area, which demanded unpaid rent -- ranging from $1,413 to $2,744, records show. In the latter two suits, records show he received eviction notices.
Goodson, who turned 26 on Thursday, was scooped up early in the free-agent signing period. He landed a $1 million signing bonus from the Jets, who envision him as a major contributor in their backfield. Though modest compared to high-profile free agents, it was the largest bonus doled out by the Jets.
A Jets spokesman declined to comment on Goodson's past, but added the team's policy is to investigate every player.
When the news of Goodson's arrest broke last week, a scout from another team, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said of the Jets, "Do these guys do background checks?"
There were character questions about Goodson when he came out of Texas A&M in 2009. He was regarded by scouts as a second-round talent, but he slipped to the fourth round.
By then, he had three kids with Ashlee Wilson of Houston, according to court records and her attorney. The first was born in April 2005, Goodson's senior year in high school. Their current ages are 8, 5 and 4. Wilson said she gave birth to the couple's fourth child in August 2011.
On Aug. 20, 2010, as Goodson was preparing for his second season in Carolina, Wilson requested a temporary restraining order against Goodson and sued for child support, according to court documents. One month later, Goodson was served with papers at Bank of America Stadium, one day after a home loss.
The case never was pursued. Wilson declined to say why she did not -- she was living with Goodson's mother at the time -- but she has reconsidered. Her attorney, Glenn Lilly, said Friday they will seek retroactive child support, a lump-sum payment and periodic child support from Goodson. Lilly said he will file the suit next week in a Harris County (Texas) Court.
Wilson and the four children now live with her parents. Lilly said Goodson still owes him $7,000 in fees from the original case, as ordered by the court.
By this time, Goodson was nearly two years into a relationship with Troyneshia Scott, who moved in with him in Charlotte, according to court documents.
Goodson fathered a child with a third woman, Jasmine Dupont of Charlotte, per court records and a person close to Goodson. That child was born March 22, 2010. Twenty months later, Dupont sued for child support.
On Dec. 1, 2012, Scott gave birth to Goodson's son. She, too, eventually sued for child support. They lived together long enough for their relationship to be considered a common-law marriage, according to court documents. They separated in February 2012, and Scott filed divorce papers on Sept. 4, 2012.
The divorce papers claim Scott "found out [Goodson] has another newborn child, which caused her to go into a depression." The name of the child isn't listed in the documents.
The Dupont and Scott cases never went to court. Scott's attorney, Sonya Chandler Anderson, said her client dropped the case without giving an explanation.
In 2012, Goodson played for the Raiders after he was traded there by the Panthers. His off-field issues never became public, but the Panthers organization was aware of everything, according to a source. The team believed he was distracted and lost focus, causing fumbling issues on the field.
"He's not a bad kid, he just made a lot of bad decisions," a person familiar with Goodson's background said.
In April 2012, he was sued for failing to make payments on a $49,000 Mercedes-Benz he purchased from a South Carolina man.
Some trace Goodson's mistakes to a troubled upbringing. His father, Mike Goodson Sr., a former Pitt basketball player, orchestrated a $12 million mortgage scam and was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. He was sentenced to a minimum of 24 years in prison. At the sentencing, he told the judge he had 12 children to support.
Those close to Goodson believe he can thrive if surrounded by positive role models. They say he felt comfortable in Oakland because he developed a bond with general manager Reggie McKenzie, but Goodson became a free agent, and the Raiders opted not to re-sign him.
Goodson's career took another turn May 17 on Route 80 in New Jersey, where he was the passenger in an SUV that had stopped in a center lane.
According to an affidavit, a state trooper said Goodson was "incoherent, slobbering and had vomited all over himself." A small bag of marijuana was found in his pants pocket and a loaded handgun was discovered in the glove compartment, the trooper said.
Goodson pleaded not guilty to all charges, including possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of a handgun. He told the Jets he doesn't own the gun, his lawyer said. If convicted of the gun charge, he could face three years in prison.
Goodson, who missed the first week of organized team activities amid the arrest fallout, will return to practice next week, according to a league source.
"We will support Mike," said Goodson's agent, Kennard McGuire. "I will not and cannot give up on Mike. Society does that enough. We will allow this process to play itself out and we will maintain our position of holding Mike accountable. If the past is the past, we will continue to surround him with the proper people and I have no doubt that he will mature to the level of that support."
"Outside the Lines" reporter Paula Lavigne contributed to this report.