It remains one of the darker periods in Chicago Bears history. Wide receiver Sam Hurd seemed like a good guy from the measured contact fans had with him. He had a good smile and seemed friendly enough. He’d quickly developed into the team’s #4 receiver and one of the primary special teams players. Other receivers including Roy Williams, who’d known him since Dallas, and Earl Bennett liked him.

That is why it was a bit confusion in mid-December of 2011 when Hurd suddenly didn’t show up for work. It was unusual. Bennett and others scoured Halas Hall trying to find him so he would avoid fines for missing meetings. It was to no avail. When they made it to meetings, they immediately sensed that something was off about the coaches.

Bennett described the atmosphere in his latest #StoryTimeWithEarl breakdown.

During the team meeting, Coach Lovie Smith did not address the situation. But, when we split into offensive meetings Coach Mike Martz had a sly comment. While watching film, Coach Martz stated “Hey Sam did you see that? Oh yea that’s right he’s not here.” Immediately, every receiver looked at each other knowing there was something that was not being said. There was a larger issue looming beneath Coach Martz remark.

After the offensive meeting, we split into individual meetings (receivers only). Usually, Coach Daryl Drake would have a smile and a joke to get us started, but not today. Coach Drake’s expression warranted questions from the receivers. The first was WR#1 “Coach where is Sam” he replied “Sams in a lot of trouble.” The next question crystalized the severity, as WR #2 asked “Did he kill someone?” Coach Drake responded “No, but it’s the next tier below.”

Earl Bennett and others stunned that Sam Hurd was a drug kingpin

Nobody had known it at the time, but back in July of that year, the ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) had opened up an investigation on Hurd. The complaints were that he had set up a drug-dealing network involving massive amounts of marijuana and cocaine. He was finally arrested on December 14th once the federal investigation felt they had enough evidence.

Initially, Hurd pled not guilty to the charges. However, his slim chances of escaping to freedom were badly damaged when he violated his bond not once but twice with drug test failures. Both for marijuana. As a result, he was jailed indefinitely. By April of 2013, the writing was on the wall. He pled guilty to the charges in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence. The way things were, it could be anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.

He was eventually sentenced to 15 years. Authorities incarcerated him at the federal prison in Bastrop, Texas where he remains to this day. If he serves the full sentence, he will not get out until 2028. By that time he’ll be 43-years old. It remains a part of Bears history that man in the organization prefers to stay buried.