Former pro football player Don Reese was sentenced today to six months to five years in prison for violating his probation on a drug sentence by using cocaine, a fact he admitted in a national magazine story.
Dade County Circuit Judge Ellen Morphonios Gable also ordered Reese to go through a drug-rehabilitation program while in prison.
Reese, 30, a former defensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, could have been sentenced to 34 years in prison for violating his probation. He could be eligible for parole after serving three months.
Reese was the coauthor of an article in the June 14 Sports Illustrated that said he used marijuana and cocaine in 1980 and 1981 while on probation. In the article, Reese also said cocaine use was widespread in the NFL, a statement that caused an uproar in the league.
Gable said she imposed jail time, even though a polygraph test indicated Reese had stopped using drugs, because "I don't know whether I'm right or wrong but I have got to do what I think is right. I think Mr. Reese violated his probation. I think Mr. Reese has to be held responsible and accountable. Mr. Reese blew it."
Said Reese, "You do something right in your heart and mind and to see it thrown in your face is tough to take."
Mark Mulvoy, assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated, said of the sentence, "I think it was a stacked deck. He had no chance. . . How do you send someone to jail when he's had the courage to fight this? If you were to send him back, what about all the people thinking about coming out of the closet who won't because they fear the same thing?"
Reese must report Jan. 11 to begin the sentence, and so will be with his family through the holidays.
"Five years ago, I disgraced myself and my family. I was down in the gutter. I'm very sorry for these things," Reese told the judge.
Reese's wife, Paulette, held the younger of their two sons on her lap as she testified. "He has changed. He is a new person. He believes in God," she said before breaking into tears and ending her testimony.
Gable said she referred to a statute allowing an indefinite sentence in "unusual" cases in sentencing Reese, the actual length of which will be determined by the state's Department of Corrections.
Assistant State's Attorney George Yoss said Reese was promised nothing in return for his guilty plea Sept. 17. Yoss said Reese will testify in a cocaine trafficking case involving another ex-Dolphin, Mercury Morris.