Joseph Zucker, Bleacherreport:
According to officials from the Kern Valley State Prison, former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips is alleged to have killed his cellmate, Damion Soward, over the weekend, per R. Stickney of NBC San Diego.

In 2009, Phillips was sentenced to 31 years in prison for striking three teenagers with his car and assaulting his girlfriend.

The St. Louis Rams thought so highly of University of Nebraska RB Lawrence Phillips that they used the sixth pick in the 1996 NFL draft in the first round to select him. This led to the trade of Rams' starting running back Jerome Bettis to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jerome's stellar career ended with his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.

The 1995 Nebraska squad has been voted as the greatest college football team of all-time in many surveys, including the all-time Sagarin ratings. The Huskers averaged more than 53 points per game and 400 yards rushing. Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne ensured that his star RB Lawrence Phillips was available for the 1996 Fiesta Bowl against the University of Florida. Nebraska stomped Florida, 62-24.

Less than two weeks after Phillips helped Nebraska secure the 1994 national Championship, he pled not guilty to charges of assault and vandalism dating to an incident in March 1994. Though Phillips was formally charged on November 18, having failed to complete the requirements of the pretrial diversion program, the hearing was delayed until after Phillips participated in the rivalry game against Oklahoma and the important Orange Bowl game to secure the National Championship.

Phillips was arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Kate McEwen, a basketball player for the Nebraska women's team and was subsequently suspended by head coach Tom Osborne. The case became a source of controversy and media attention, with the perception arising that Osborne was coddling a star player by not kicking Phillips off the team permanently. Osborne walked out on a press conference when asked "If one of your players had roughed up a member of your family and had dragged her down a flight of steps, would you have reinstated that player to the team?" Outraged Nebraska faculty proposed that any student convicted of a violent crime be prohibited from representing the university on the football field. Osborne defended the decision, saying that abandoning Phillips might do more harm than good, stating the best way to help Phillips was within the structured environment of the football program.

We see this same situation in the trial presently being held in Fall River, MA. A privileged college football star gets all the second chances that he needs, and the head coach ensures that he is eligible for all the big games. Aaron Hernandez' former head coach at the University of Florida is getting a much deserved pay bump. Urban Meyer's contract for Ohio State now goes through 2020 at an average of $6.5 million per year over the next six seasons.

It is too bad that Tom Osborne and Urban Meyer couldn't have taken a stand. Damion Soward and Odin Lloyd would have liked that.

Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire. .

Follow me on Twitter at @_prmurphy

For more of my articles, click here.

Paul Murphy 4/14/2015 04:15:00 PM Edit

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