NFL: Henry Ruggs III – An Opinion Piece

Before I get started on the meat of this piece, I wanted to take the time to mention my reasoning for this piece and my intentions. My intentions for this piece isn’t to minimize or downplay the severity of what happened to Tina Tintor or her dog, Max, on November 2nd, 2021. The situation and the circumstances surrounding the incident are something I take very seriously in my life and it’s something that I will, in no way, take lightly throughout this article as I write it. My intentions behind this piece is more of what Henry Ruggs III can do for the future outside of the NFL and how he can impact young lives whenever he is released from prison. Hopefully, anybody who reads this piece can walk away from reading it without feeling like I failed on my intentions and understands that I completely side with Tina Tintor and her dog, in this tragic event.

The Sentence

Today, August 9, 2023, a judge handed down the sentence of former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver, and Alabama Crimson Tide alumni, Henry Ruggs III. The judge presiding over Ruggs’ fatal car crash in 2021 handed the disgraced and fallen Ruggs, a 3 to 10 year sentence in prison. It’s an odd sentencing when you look at the dynamics of how most sentencings proceed. They’re usually more detailed and have more condensed window for prison stay. On November 2, 2021, Henry Ruggs crashed his Chevrolet Corvette into the back Tina Tintor’s RAV4 at 120 miles an hour.

He reached 156 miles per hour prior to impact and tried to panic stop before colliding with Tina Tintor’s vehicle. He failed. And the result was the RAV4 being engulfed in flames which led to the deaths of Tina and her dog, Max. Ruggs was also under the influence of alcohol, as he blew a .161%, twice the legal limit in Nevada, after initially refusing a field sobriety and blood test on site. In a disgusting twist of how life works, both Ruggs and his girlfriend, were injured but with non-life threatening injuries after the crash.

What does the sentence mean for Ruggs? Well, for one Ruggs is only 24 years old, so, even if he ends up serving the ten year sentence max, he will get out of prison at the age of 34. If, for some reason, he is released in three years, he’ll only be 27 years old and because of that, people are already anticipating his return to the gridiron(more on that later).

The sentencing is an odd one, but here’s what I’ve gathered thus far, Ruggs was NOT credited with any time served, therefore his first day in prison(today) will count as day one of his sentencing. He has a minimum of three years, which means he can’t be released prior to late summer in 2026. After his third year is complete, it will be up to the parole board as to when he will be released. So, sometime between 2026 and 2033, Ruggs will become a free man.

Future in Football

This is where things have become muddy among football fans. While every fan of the sport agree that the incident surrounding Henry Ruggs is a tragic event, some fans believe he’ll be back in the NFL upon his release, some fans want him to get back onto the field and fans, such as myself, believe he shouldn’t ever step foot back on a football field professionally for the rest of his life. It’s a sensitive subject for a lot of people and without turning this into a headhunt on Henry Ruggs, I’ll explain my position on the matter instead. While there’s no doubt that Ruggs is an extremely talented player, his actions in November of 2021 were inexcusable and the result was someone’s life.

A young, 23 year old woman had her life ripped from her because of a terrible and horrendous decision from a young, entitled professional football player. Why should he be allowed to continue his dream of playing professional football and making millions of dollars but the woman, whose life he took, can’t do the same for herself and her family? The biggest thing here is that money talks and money buys everything in this world. Ruggs won’t have the money when he gets out, or have very little of whatever he made prior to the incident, he still has the connections and relationships he’s built throughout his life in the professional football world.

The sad truth behind the way this world works is that Henry Ruggs will likely have people in his corner pushing for him to return to the world of football in some capacity. The NFL would be smart to ban Ruggs, but we also know how their punishments work considering the Dante Stallworth tragedy in years past. While Stallworth’s situation is significantly different than Ruggs’ situation, Stallworth was still allowed back into the league. So, the fans yelling from the rooftops about other players getting second chances and a chance to have a redemption story, might wonder why I’m on the side of Ruggs not getting that chance, right? Well, there’s a main reason for this and we’ll get into that in a moment.

Does Henry Ruggs deserve a second shot in the NFL, if he gets out before he’s 30? I say before he’s 30 because once you pass that threshold in age, teams tend to look in a different direction. The Stallworth situation is a prime example someone can turn to as to why he might. But it’s not just Stallworth, it’s the Greg Hardy’s, the Ben Roethlisberger’s(though, he was never convicted) and the slew of other player who have broken the law but been able to return. The NFL’s track record on punishment surrounding the law breakers isn’t the most pristine and it’s likely that if a team decided to take a chance on Ruggs, it would result in a lengthy suspension that would still eventually get him back on the field. But in a world of second chances and redemption stories in the NFL, would a team be willing to give a guy, like Ruggs and his tragic event, another shot to succeed? We’ll have to play the waiting game there and see if there’s someone willing. But that’s not until 2026, and in my opinion, he should be banned for life.


Now, with all of that said, I’m a firm believer and a big fan of redemption stories and second chances. While I don’t believe Henry Ruggs deserves a second chance playing football professionally ever again; I do believe he deserves a redemption story and a second chance at life. Whether it be 27 years old or 34 years old, Ruggs should be spending the rest of his life as a life coach and motivational speaker. That’s right, he should be using his story, his platform and his celebrity status to bring awareness to his situation. He should tell his life story. He should be honest and candid during these events and really hammer home the importance of what happens when you make a catastrophic mistake that results in one of the worst scenarios anyone can ever imagine.

If I’m Ruggs, I’m learning in prison through their school outreach programs. And as soon as I’m a free man, I’m hitting high schools and colleges up and becoming a motivational speaker. I’d donate all my proceeds to the victims and programs bringing awareness to what drugs and alcohol can do to people. I’d also see if I could talk to incoming rookies and young football players coming out of college about the warnings of coming into a lot of money and how to be responsible, because we know he definitely wasn’t and if he truly learned from his mistake, this would be the road to redemption that would be acceptable, in my eyes.

I doubt this piece will ever get to Ruggs and I doubt he’d even heed the advice of some random individual in the State of Maine, but the importance of what Henry Ruggs could become, not to himself, but to society can’t go unstated here. He needs to find peace within himself and understand that this tragic event is a part of his life, but it doesn’t have to define him, who he is, or the rest of his life. He has a chance to make a real difference and it’s up to him to figure out what kind of person he wants to become in the future. He’ll have plenty of time to think about it, but I, for one, am pulling for the motivational speaker story instead of the professional football player story. Until that time comes, I hope Ruggs learned an important lesson and I truly hope that he’s a changed man and wants to bring change to this world in the positive upon his release.

But for now, he’s right where he belongs, and should stay, for longer than 3 years, in my opinion, but either way, his story isn’t over – yet.

~Michael Washington

Our Hearts go out to the Tintor family for their losses.

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