It may be hard to imagine there being a more cold-blooded former NFL player than Aaron Hernandez or Darren Sharper or even O.J. Simpson (allegedly). But there was actually one former player that may have committed crimes more heinous than any other person to have ever put on an NFL uniform.
Anthony Wayne Smith is a former defensive end who spent his time in the league with the Raiders from 1990 to 1997 when they were located in both Los Angeles and Oakland. Despite only starting five games during his first three seasons, Smith was still able to rack up a total of 36 sacks during that time period.
His production saw a decrease during the last few years of his career and he was out of the league by the age of 31.
However, it was what Smith did in the years following his time in the NFL that has landed him behind bars with three life sentences and no chance for parole and at the extreme end of the official 1 to 10 NFL crime-o-meter.
In 2015, the former Raiders defensive end was found guilty of murdering two men in 1999 and one more in 2001. He was also accused of killing another man in 2008, but the jury for the trial could not come to any sort of an agreement on a verdict and Smith was not convicted.
The two men that were murdered by Smith in 1999, Kevin and Ricky Nettles, lost their lives after the former NFL player pretended to be a cop, kidnapped them, and then shot them dead.
“The Nettles brothers, operators of a garage and beeper store, were abducted and later found dead, their heads bound with duct tape. Kevin Nettles had been shot six times by a 9-millimeter gun and had a U-shaped burn on his cheek.”
In 2001, Smith and three other men kidnapped Dennis Henderson and Terry Ware. Henderson was later found dead inside a car in Los Angeles, California.
“Henderson was found stabbed to death in a rental car, his body covered in more than 40 non-fatal stab wounds inflicted before his throat was slashed.”
For people that may wonder why someone who earned millions of dollars while playing in the NFL would participate in such violent acts, Smith’s past may provide some answers.
The former defensive end used to tell reporters covering the Raiders that he grew up in New York where he was a member of a gang, he admitted to stealing a car when he was just 8-years-old, and he also confessed to the media that he began to use heroin when he was 9-years-old. However, none of this was true.
He actually grew up in a small North Carolina town and was raised by his older brother. Growing up, he watched and picked up habits from others around him as they used anger and violence to try and fix their problems.
“That whole generation of men, they were all angry. For them, it was better to be mad than happy. They couldn’t communicate, and they didn’t know how to fix problems in a simple, civilized way.”
So perhaps Smith did not know any better than to solve his problems with violence?
Whether that may be true or not, a majority of players who grew up surrounded by violence are able to step away from their past and adjust to their improved life in the NFL. But Smith, obviously, was not of the majority.