By Marice Richter
DALLAS (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge sentenced former Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears receiver Sam Hurd to 15 years in prison for trying to set up a drug ring that would have been a major supplier of cocaine and marijuana to the Chicago area.
Hurd, who pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to traffic narcotics, could have faced up to life in prison given the large amounts of drugs he intended to purchase.
Hurd appeared to tear up when he spoke for about 30 minutes at the sentencing hearing in a federal court in Dallas and apologized for what he had done.
"What I did was extremely stupid," he told the court. "Everything was the result of my marijuana addiction."
Hurd was arrested outside a Chicago steakhouse in a 2011 federal sting. He told an undercover law enforcement agent that he wanted to buy five to 10 kg (11 to 22 lbs) of cocaine a week at a price of $25,000 per kg, prosecutors said.
He also wanted to purchase about 1,000 lbs of marijuana a week to sell in the Chicago area, they said. Hurd has been in federal custody for more than a year.
"The tragedy in this case is that you had everything going for you and you went down this route," U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis said in handing down the sentence.
The NFL player had been in the first year of a three-year deal - reportedly worth more than $5 million - he had signed with the Bears at the time of his arrest. He had previously played five seasons with the Cowboys.
He was cut by Chicago shortly after his arrest. He had a career total of 53 catches in the NFL.
(Reporting by Marice Richter; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)