Devin Hester has become the greatest kick returned in NFL history through his elusiveness and quickness. Neither of those traits will help Hester escape from allegations of former Miami Hurricanes Booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro. He dropped the hammer on The U and named names. Lots of them and the Chicago Bears’ own Devin Hester listed prominently among the beneficiaries of his generosity.
Yahoo! Sports reports that over 70 players from 2002 – 2010 received illicit benefits from Shapiro, violating several NCAA rules that could spell doom for Miami’s program. Shapiro sounds like a bitter convict who got used up and left out in the cold by players with whom he thought he was friends:
In 15 prison interviews with Yahoo! Sports and hundreds of telephone and email interactions, Shapiro laid out a multitude of reasons for blowing the whistle on his illicit booster activity. Chief is his feeling that after spending eight years forging what he thought were legitimate friendships with players, he was abandoned by many of the same Miami athletes he treated so well. He told Yahoo! Sports that following his incarceration, he asked multiple players for financial help – either with bail money, or assistance to individuals close to the booster. Shapiro admitted some of those inquiries included angry letters and phone calls to players whom he provided benefits.
“Some of those players – a lot of those players – we used to say we were a family,” Shapiro said. “Well, who do you go to for help when you need it? You go to your family. Why the hell wouldn’t I go to them?”
After practice on Tuesday night and again this afternoon, Hester denied even knowing Shapiro:
“I didn’t know the guy,” Hester said after Tuesday’s practice in Bourbonnais. “I have nothing to say about it.”
Here’s the laundry list of benefits that Hester received from Shapiro:
- Multiple cash gifts.
- Cash for rims for Hester’s sport utility vehicle.
- Approximately $3,000 for an engagement ring.
- Playoff tickets to a Miami Heat versus Detroit Pistons playoff game on June 6, 2005. Shapiro said it was at this game that Hester proposed to his girlfriend with the ring also purchased by the booster.
- Drinks and VIP access at nightclubs.
- Multiple meals at Miami-area restaurants.
- Food, drinks, entertainment and lodging at Shapiro’s $2.7 million Miami Beach home.
- Entertainment on Shapiro’s $1.6 million yacht and jet skis.
- A suit, shoes and other clothing purchased for Hester in August 2005 at Fashion Clothiers.
- $7,500 in bounties. The bounties were: $1,000 total for a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown ($500) and an ensuing celebration penalty ($500) in a 38-33 win over Florida on Sept. 6, 2003; $2,500 total for two punt returns for touchdowns ($1,000 each) and one celebration penalty ($500) in a 48-0 win over Louisiana Tech on Sept. 18, 2004; $2,000 total for two return touchdowns (including one called back by penalty) in a 41-38 win over Louisville on Oct. 14, 2004; $1,000 total for a kickoff return for a touchdown in a 45-31 win over N.C. State on Oct. 23, 2004; and $1,000 total for a missed field goal returned for a touchdown in a 27-10 win over Florida on Dec. 31, 2004.
If you’d like to hear Shapiro’s account of his relationship with Devin Hester in his own words, click this link for the audio of his interview with Charles Robinson.
Hester is a class act on and off the field and none of this should take anything away from what he has done on the field between the white lines, particularly while with the Chicago Bears.
Does this scandal change your opinion of Devin? Do you think this will affect him on the field? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.