By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Nor to his mother, who is adamant that justice has already been overserved. "It was an accident," she says. "Dwayne did not wake up that day with intentions of going out and taking someone's life. But this is about to end....Who knows, maybe he'll play football again."
Ironic that Goodrich's NFL career all but ended because of a hit-and-run. Because he did neither while with the Cowboys.
After a standout stay at the University of Tennessee, highlighted by returning an interception for a touchdown and being named Defensive MVP in the Volunteers' 1999 National Championship Game victory over Florida State, the 6-foot, 190-pound Goodrich was the 49th overall pick in the 2000 draft. Pegged as an athletic cornerback with shut-down potential, as a Cowboy he was a colossal disappointment. A big-time bust.
He strained a hamstring in his first preseason, tore his Achilles in 2001 and never made an interception in Dallas.
"I thought I'd have a 10-year career like Champ Bailey and Darren Woodson," Goodrich says, his eyes lighting up. "But the truth is I thought just getting drafted and being in the NFL was it. I didn't work hard enough. I just did enough to get by."
Woodson remembers being frustrated that the young cornerback's mental approach didn't match his physical skills. "With Goody it seemed like my advice would go in one ear and right out the other," he recalls. "He just never put his working hat on and treated his life in the NFL as a job. Shame, because he could've had a long, successful career."
Goodrich, who plays basketball but not football during recreational hours at Wallace, is sober about an NFL comeback. But in prison, there's plenty of time to dream.
"I'd be lying if I said a part of me didn't want to try it again," he says. "Hopefully I'll still be 30 when I get out, but that's old in football years. It would make a great story, and it would give a lot of dudes in here hope to watch me play on TV. But I'm realistic. It's not my main focus."
As for the Cowboys, for now Goodrich just wants to apologize in general to fans and in specific to Jones. He asks that this message be delivered to the Cowboys' owner:Mr. Jones, I hope someday soon to be able to apologize in person. I am sorry. I know I let you down and cheated you. You didn't get your money's worth when you drafted me, and I wound up embarrassing myself, my family, my teammates and you. For that I am truly sorry.
With his reputation in ruins and career path narrow, Goodrich has only one asset: his story.
Given Laura Wood's continued bitterness, and Fletcher's legal hoops, perhaps Goodrich is a tad naïve in thinking he'll stroll out of Wallace before his May 29th birthday. But when he does get out, Goodrich promises a positive impact.
"I'm not trying to be too callous, but I'm over that night," he says of the accident. "I've re-lived it, and it doesn't change a thing. I can't sit here and waste my life dwelling on it. What I want to do is tell my story to others, to educate them about the harsh consequences of their actions."
After initially following Prospere's advice not to speak publicly about the incident, Goodrich tried to air his side of the tale in 2005 but broke down in tears in KDFW-Channel 4's downtown studios before reporter Shaun Rabb could ask the first question. Unable to compose himself, he abruptly canceled the interview and remained mum until today.
"This is going to sound weird, but I'm truly happy now," Goodrich says. "It was a great accomplishment to be a Dallas Cowboy, but in here I've grown up. I feel like a man. Now I'm who I want to be, instead of who everybody else thought I was supposed to be. I'm going to turn this negative into a positive. It's all I want to do."
With his second chance, Goodrich wants to finish his Sociology/Criminology degree at Tennessee, then move back to Dallas and launch a career in coaching and/or speaking to at-risk groups and individuals.
"I know I could help Pacman," he says. "Somebody better, before it's too late and he winds up in here."
Through family, Goodrich is reaching out to friends and fellow Chicagoans Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dwyane Wade of the NBA's Miami Heat—looking for help when he lands.
"Hey, I'm a convicted felon who's done hard time," he says. "I'll need a favor or two."
He's also placed calls to the NFL Players Association, offering to speak at the league's Rookie Symposium. At Wallace, Goodrich volunteers in a mentoring program called Life Decisions.
The night before his interview he went to nearby Big Spring and spoke for the third time to 15 kids and adults, some of whom were rebounding from a DWI or alcohol-related accident.
"I tell them that if I'd thought about my choices—that if I'd stayed home with my 6-month-old daughter instead of going out to topless bars—then maybe I'd be a part of America's Team instead of in here cleaning toilets," he says. "I realized that, hey, my story is a powerful tool. I've got a platform as a former Cowboy, and I've already seen it affect people in amazing ways. It's really inspired me, really got me excited for my life outside these walls."
In there, a hollow place that exacerbates his six-second sin, he's got nothing but time.
Out here, sooner or later, Dwayne Goodrich's time will come.