There was a sense of promise the day Russell Erxleben walked out of the dark glass doors of a Beaumont federal prison in June 2005.
In his maroon Suburban, as he and his wife drove out of the sprawling complex of brick and metal, trimmed green grass and coiling barbed wire, she asked him to turn around and take one last look. After nearly five years of incarceration, the former University of Texas and NFL kicker was free.
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Behind the story
American-Statesman reporter Jazmine Ulloa spent five months trying to unravel the reasons a former professional football player would twice turn to financial fraud. She analyzed hundreds of court records and jail letters from Russell Erxleben, sat through his hearings in Austin federal courts and conducted interviews with his friends, relatives and former coaches. In April, she visited a Beaumont federal prison to interview the former University of Texas and NFL kicker.