Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II was sentenced to 14 years in prison for multiple rapes and other sexual offenses against five women in Southern California, a homeless woman he attacked in 2018, according to ESPN. Winslow II is the son of Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. The 14-year sentence was the maximum allowed under a plea deal.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow can only be described in “two words and that is a sexual predator.” The judge said he preyed on women who were especially vulnerable, befriending a homeless woman, picking up a 54-year-old hitchhiker, and attacking a teen after she had passed out at a party.
Winslow repeatedly targeted women that he felt were vulnerable, including the teenager he attacked and multiple older women.
“The vulnerability of the victims was no accident,” Bowman said. “It was the type of victim that you sought out yourself because you felt that perhaps they wouldn’t report the crime” or “wouldn’t be deemed credible by the jurors.”
Winslow repeatedly targeted, preyed on, assaulted and raped women that he felt were vulnerable. Fourteen years doesn’t feel like nearly enough for the damage he has caused and the danger that he poses to society. He is another in a long line of former football players who have become unhinged, which is a disgusting and disturbing trend that must continue to be analyzed, especially through the lens of CTE. According to Winslow’s attorney Marc Carlos, Winslow “suffered from head trauma from the many blows to his head while playing football,” and suggested that was why he “went off the rails.”
There are of course other former football players who committed heinous violent crimes. Most infamously is the case of Aaron Hernandez, who was arrested and charged with murder and other crimes. He was tried and convicted for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd and while facing charges of another double homicide from 2012. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without parole for when he hung himself in prison in April of 2017. It was later discovered that Hernandez suffered from the most severe case of CTE ever found in someone his age.
Tommy Kane, a former NFL wide receiver, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2003 after he stabbed his wife to death inside his mother’s house as she was attempting to take him to a rehabilitation center. He reportedly was battling depression and a cocaine habit. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Lawrence Phillips, a former NFL running back, was sentenced to 31 years in prison after being found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend and driving a vehicle into three teenagers. He later was accused of killing a cellmate, and hanged himself in January 2016.
There is no excusing any of these actions. But to what degree the physical toll of football has on the human brain and the behavior of athletes and former athletes must continue to be fervently studied.