Ex-WR Sam Hurd pleads guilty

DALLAS -- Former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd has apologized as he pleaded guilty to trying to buy cocaine and marijuana to set up a drug-distribution network.

The tall, lanky Hurd leaned into a courtroom microphone Thursday in Dallas during a plea hearing and asked to address the court. He told U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis, "I'm sorry for everything I've done."

Hurd added that he intended all along to plead guilty to the charge against him.

The 27-year-old Hurd faces a minimum 10 years in prison at sentencing in July for conspiracy to possess cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute. He was arrested in December 2011 outside a Chicago-area steakhouse after allegedly accepting a kilogram of cocaine.

Prosecutors and Hurd's attorneys have been in plea discussions for months, according to one of his attorneys, Jay Ethington. One sticking point was what allegations Hurd would acknowledge in a plea agreement, which will factor into his recommended sentence on the indictment, Ethington said in September.

Ethington told The Chicago Tribune that he plans to "vigorously contest" Hurd's sentencing, contending that the former receiver didn't engage in drug trafficking to the extent alleged by prosecutors.

"He's a marijuana freak," Ethington told the newspaper. "He loves marijuana. He's addicted to high-grade marijuana."

Ethington said Hurd was not a marijuana dealer.

"Sell? No. Share with his friends? Yes," Ethington told the newspaper.

Hurd was a player for the Chicago Bears when he was arrested in December 2011 outside a Chicago-area steakhouse after accepting a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover officer, according to documents prosecutors filed in the case. Prosecutors alleged he 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.

His arrest shocked his teammates and led to his release from the team.

Months later, he was back in court after failing two drug tests and allegedly trying to arrange another drug buy.

Two men linked to Hurd's alleged attempts to buy drugs have pleaded guilty and were prepared to testify against him.

Hurd played college football at Northern Illinois and then five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before signing a contract with the Bears in 2011 that was reportedly worth up to $5.15 million.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.