Published Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 1:28 am
Ex-Husker star, Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers seeks pardon for '71 robbery conviction

Former Husker football player and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers said Wednesday that he is asking the State of Nebraska for a pardon for his 1971 felony robbery conviction to complete “some unfinished business.”

The Nebraska Board of Pardons’ Oct. 8 agenda says there’s a “favorable” chance that Rodgers’ application for a full pardon will be granted a hearing. Rodgers said he requested the pardon to set a good example for young people by “completing something I thought was taken care of a long time ago.”

Rodgers said that he speaks to young people who have had trouble with the law about taking the necessary steps to re-enter society. Rodgers recently became aware that there was a step he missed in clearing his own record.

“How can I tell them to do these things if I haven’t done it myself?” Rodgers said. “It’s a case of me being able to say, ‘Do as I do, not just as I say.’”

Gov. Dave Heineman, Attorney General Jon Bruning and Secretary of State John Gale sit on the Pardons Board and will consider scheduling a hearing on Rodgers’ request. In 1970, Rodgers was a 19-year-old University of Nebraska-Lincoln freshman when he and two other men robbed a Lincoln gas station of $91.

Rodgers pleaded guilty to felony larceny and was sentenced to two years of probation. He continued to play for the Huskers and went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1972.

Rodgers said in 2007 that the robbery conviction came up when he applied for a real estate license. He was still able to get one.

“When I completed my probation, I received a certificate saying all my civil rights had been restored, so I thought that was the end of that,” Rodgers said. “When I became aware that I missed a step and (the conviction) was still following me, I decided to complete some unfinished business.”

Rodgers said he stays active as the president of the Johnny Rodgers Youth Foundation. He is also a partner in Hall of Fame Staffing, a firm that advertises being able to locate “hard to find” professionals.

“It’s been over 40 years since that (robbery) occurred,” he said. “Like a lot of incidents juveniles get into today, I did something stupid that I would like to finally put behind me.”

Contact the writer: Kevin Cole

kevin.cole@owh.com    |   402-444-1272    |  

Kevin Cole covers workings of police, courts and government and writes features about interesting subjects in Omaha and the surrounding counties.

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