THE BLOG

Top Professional Athletes Gone Bad

02/17/2015 12:52 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2015

What is it about professional competitors that seem to make so many set on self-destruction? After years of working out, training and imagining the big time, pro athletes often turn out to be their own worst opponent when it comes to enjoying a rewarding career and the perks that come with it.

Letroy Guion isn't the only pro player to blunder and drop into trouble with the law -- he is just the latest.

When Letroy Guion was arrested recently he figured out quickly he was going to have a bad day. The police in Guion's hometown of Starke, Florida busted the Green Bay Packers defensive tackle with over three-quarters of a pound of marijuana and over $190,000 in cash. The money, the pot and the truck were seized and if Guion listened closely, he may have heard his career being flushed down the toilet.

According to the police report, Guion was hostile and uncooperative while his vehicle was being searched. The arresting officer said that Guion repeatedly approached the truck worried that his money would be stolen. "Don't let him take my money," Guion was heard to say by witnesses. Guion, who was pulled over by law enforcement for weaving on the road, was partially hanging out of the driver's window. As the cop came close to the car, he could smell marijuana according to the police report.

Guion had signed with the Packers in March, 2014. His contract, for one year, had a base salary of $730,000 and included a signing bonus of $100,000. Add a roster bonus of $15,000 and a workout bonus of $50,000, Guion didn't do badly for one year.

Guion's bad news may be good news for B. J. Raji. Raji, a free agent, is in contract talks with the Packers and was going for the same spot as Guion before Guion potentially tossed his career to the sideline with the pot.

A source, familiar with the details, told Adam Caplan, a reporter for ESPN's NFL Insider, that Guion also had an unloaded handgun in a box in the vehicle. Guion, who has a permit for the gun in Minnesota, was in the process of relocating from his home in Green Bay to his home in Starke according to the source.

The Bradford County Sheriff's Department said that Guion was released on $100,000 bond. The 315-pound Guion, 27, had joined the Packers during last year's offseason and had been a starter in every game. Guion had a career-best 3.5 sacks while he played with the Minnesota Vikings and had signed a one-year, million contract with the Packers. He was in the middle of talking with the Packers about a long-term relationship when he was pulled over.

The Packers are aware of Guion's troubles, but are not saying much. "We are conscious of a serious matter involving Letroy Guion," a Packers spokesman said. "We have not spoken with Letroy and will not have any further comment."

Leonard Little

Little was drafted into the NFL in 1998. The same year, he left a birthday party -- drunk -- and drove through a red light. Crashing into another vehicle, Little left a mother and two children dead. He didn't go to prison, but instead was given four years probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Little didn't learn his lesson. In 2004, he was under arrest again for drunk driving.

Rae Carruth

The former Carolina Panthers player hired a friend to execute his girlfriend, Cherica Adams. Adams was pregnant with Carruth's child and had refused an abortion. Adams lived long enough to call 911 and let law enforcement know what happened. Her unborn baby died with her and Carruth is serving a 24-year sentence.

Ray Lewis

Lewis, a retired linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, was indicted in 2000 for murder. During a Super Bowl party, Lewis, along with friends, had gotten into a fight with two men who later were found dead. Lewis was the prime suspect after blood was found on his suit and in his limo. Indicted, Lewis went to court where all the counts were dropped and the murder remains unsolved.

Michael Vick

The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback hosted a dogfighting ring at his Virginia home. Vick's case threw the spotlight on animal abuse and dog fighting. After Vick and his friends were charged with their involvement in dog fighting and gambling, Vick served 23 months in jail.

O. J. Simpson

Possibly one of the most famous incidents of an athlete being arrested is the well-known case of Orenthal James "OJ" Simpson. After being found not guilty of slaughtering his ex-wife and her companion, despite overwhelming evidence, Simpson could not stay out of trouble. Precisely 13 years after he appeared to get away with murder, Simpson was charged in a robbery case where the Heisman Trophy winner stole sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel -- at gunpoint. Found guilty on all ten counts, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison.

In a new book, Deviance and Social Control in Sport, researchers Michael Atkinson and Kevin Young focus on the confusing environment that encompasses athletes. Part of the confusion are the behaviors which are against the rules, but encouraged nevertheless as appreciated signs of doing whatever it takes to win.

Most professional athletes have been involved in sports since childhood. Sports sociologists look at the early development of athletes to get a peek at configurations, social standards and influences that contribute to later behaviors.

In a population of any size, there will always be a few "bad apples." The misbehavior of professional athletes has become so prevalent that researchers have created an entire branch of study called "deviance in sports."

Researchers are asking questions and challenging assumptions as well as establishing a connection between sports participation and deviance. Since success in sports brings prestige and attention, does the risk of losing that status cause a necessity to take chances in order to maintain their "Alpha Dog" position?

Many researchers are starting to wonder.