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Nebraska Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers seeks pardon for 1970 crime

Johnny Rodgers AP

Forty-three years after he was convicted of felony larceny for his role in an armed robbery, 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers is seeking a pardon from the state of Nebraska.

On Thursday he’ll go before the state’s Board of Pardons and ask to have his conviction pardoned. He is eligible to be granted the pardon because at least 10 years have passed without any convictions or law enforcement issues by the former Cornhusker.

Rodgers and a couple of his buddies robbed a Lincoln, Neb., gas station in 1970, near the end of his freshman year. They got away with $90, which they split three ways. Two years later, Rodgers won the school’s first Heisman Trophy.

Rodgers went on to earn two degrees from his alma mater, in journalism and advertising. But the stigma of being an ex-felon has been a burden on him all this time.

“I have a history of 43 years now of rather decent things happening,” Rodgers said. “I’ve done and accomplished more things after I had a felony charge than most people ever do.”

Rodgers is getting support in his pardon effort from former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne, who was Rodgers’ position coach at the time. Osborne wrote to the Pardons Board on his behalf.

“He has done many good things the last 40 years,” Osborne said, noting Rodgers’ work with charities and youth.

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19 Responses to “Nebraska Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers seeks pardon for 1970 crime”
  1. be4bama says: Nov 12, 2013 9:50 PM

    Best of luck to him.

  2. raysfan1 says: Nov 12, 2013 10:00 PM

    While I could be sympathetic with his application, his statement “I’ve done and accomplished more things after I had a felony charge than most people ever do,” comes across as pretty arrogant. It may or may not be true about how much he has accomplished in his life besides the Heisman; however, it is very true that most of us never committed armed robbery.

  3. thefiesty1 says: Nov 12, 2013 11:41 PM

    Just like Incognito and Suh. Just another criminal from Nebraska.

  4. bender4700 says: Nov 13, 2013 12:10 AM


    You are an idiot.

    Rodgers 1970
    Suh 2010 (forgetting Suh has zero criminal charges)
    Incognito 2013. (What criminal charges does he have pending or resolved even? Nothing that you can quote without lying)

    That’s a lot in 50 years. Man.

    You could have at least said Lawrence Phillips.

    Then you’d have:

    Rodgers 1970
    Phillips 1995

    Then… um let’s see… nobody?

    You are a moron. Aaron Hernandez thinks you have zero creativity.

  5. lowtalker says: Nov 13, 2013 12:59 AM

    hey Fiesty1 . . . you are a goof

    I would bet you that Nebraska has many more academic All- Americans than whatever school it is that you support. Would also bet that Osborne did much more to promote Christian values than you can possibly imagine; recognizing your imagination is rather limited. Pelini won’t tolerate Any nonsense from his players. Nebraska didn’t want Incognito – that is why he was dismissed from team.

  6. louhudson23 says: Nov 13, 2013 2:36 AM

    If this man is not granted a pardon,then there is no one worthy of a pardon. It is exactly this scenario for which they were conceived,keeping in mind that a pardon does nothing to exonerate a person of their crime,but simply forgives them for it.Rodgers has earned that forgiveness.

  7. boomgrounder says: Nov 13, 2013 4:05 AM

    The judge should consider the pardon based on his life not his football abilities. The Heisman Trophy should have no bearing on whether or not he is pardoned. If he has lived a crime free productive life since his original crime in 1970 then the judge should consider pardoning him based on that not his football history.

  8. psly2124 says: Nov 13, 2013 6:46 AM

    I’m sorry but he caught a break 43 years ago. He did no jail time and was allowed by the court to win the heisman. I don’t know what the laws were then but, he caught a huge break. Armed robbery is a serious crime, I would not offer him a pardon. Of he want one I would ask for him to pay his debt for his crime and do 5-15 then we will talk a out a pardon. He got a slap on the wrist then and he wants a pass now. How is it that he was not kicked off the football team when this event happened?

  9. waynefontes says: Nov 13, 2013 7:08 AM

    Too bad Tom Osborne isn’t the governor.

    He loves giving criminals second chances.

    At least Rodgers didn’t beat and/or sexually assault a woman.

    If Tom Osborne can overlook that, he can surely overlook this.

  10. waynefontes says: Nov 13, 2013 7:15 AM

    bender4700 says:
    Nov 13, 2013 12:10 AM

    You are an idiot.

    Rodgers 1970
    Suh 2010 (forgetting Suh has zero criminal charges)
    Incognito 2013. (What criminal charges does he have pending or resolved even? Nothing that you can quote without lying)

    That’s a lot in 50 years. Man.


    You apparently have never of a man named Christian Peter.

    There aren’t many criminals from Nebraska, but good ol’ Dr. Tom would have reinstated him in a heartbeat.

  11. waynefontes says: Nov 13, 2013 7:17 AM

    never heard of

    Nebraska is a great program with a storied tradition, but Phillips and Peter showed that Nebraska is no better than anyone else when it comes to winning at all costs.

    I pulled for Nebraska in all of their national title games, but don’t act holier than thou.

    Peter and Phillips = women beaters. Man.

  12. lowtalker says: Nov 13, 2013 7:52 AM

    psly2124. . .

    You raise good points. Would like to know what role Rodgers played in it . . BUT a robbery is a robbery and in this day you would certainly do jail. Doesn’t matter if you are John Doe, a star on varsity or a freshman with no varsity experience ( as was Rodgers) seems like jail is a sure thing today and who knows why it wasn’t then. Maybe back in the day you could get away with stuff. . . JFK got away with stuff in the swimming pool area at WH . . . no Twitter, Facebook, cameras on cell phones

    heck Pelini booted a freshman d-line this year for getting into a fight before summer workouts even began and Neb could sure have used him this year.

  13. dmvtransplant says: Nov 13, 2013 8:06 AM

    @ bender4700

    SUH – Reckless driving twice in the state of Michigan

    Richie- Skated on attempted Sexual assault of a female employee at a golf course

    Neither of these things are hard to find

  14. thegamecocker says: Nov 13, 2013 8:25 AM

    Johnny Rodgers deserves this pardon. He was fortunate to not have received jail time for his transgression. He has done wonderful charitable deeds during his life and he has earned two degrees from U. of Nebraska. He is a solid citizen and has been for the past 40 years. It is not like he denied his participation in the robbery and continues to deny it. I think he has EARNED the pardon.

    The Gamecocker

  15. psly2124 says: Nov 13, 2013 10:13 AM

    I’m sorry but using a accusing incognito of sexual assault without even being charged Is bs. If the women was sexually assaulted she would have pressed charges. She didn’t. P.s. she took a cash settlement, allegedly, which leads me to believe is was a b.s. story and she was looking for a payday. Or she took money for a sexual assault and that makes her a whore. Your point was again. Check mate

  16. chinahand11 says: Nov 13, 2013 2:40 PM

    Psly2124, sometimes the women will take the money to avoid getting slimed in court. No telling how traumatized that lady was, with a drunken slob pawing her and making weird noises.

  17. dmvtransplant says: Nov 13, 2013 3:30 PM

    @ psly2124

    I was simply pointing out that both guys have been involved in bad judgement with respect to the law.

    I actually listed two things, but you actually only responded to one so I fail to see how you could use the term Check mate while making half a point?

    BTW Checkmate

  18. psly2124 says: Nov 13, 2013 4:37 PM

    So traumatized that she didn’t want to press charges. The white is a liar.

  19. jbaxt says: Nov 14, 2013 2:55 PM

    “Attempted sexual assault”? Does that mean you had bad intentions but the woman kicked your arse? I could be wrong but u don’t believe there’s such a thing as attempted sexual assault.

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