In 1989, the New York Giants were two seasons removed from playing in and winning Super Bowl XXI.
Following their victory, New York missed the playoffs in 1987 and 1988 despite having most of their championship roster intact.
During the 1989 NFL Draft, the franchise added a little-known running back and special teams demon from Towson University.
Dave Meggett may have been a fifth-round pick who barely stood five feet seven, but he played much larger than he was.
— NFL (@NFLSeason17) September 15, 2017
He helped the Giants return to the Super Bowl in 1990 while becoming one of the best kick and punt returners in the NFL.
Meggett also played in another Super Bowl as a member of the New England Patriots during his 10-year career.
Unfortunately, all the great things Meggett accomplished on the field were overshadowed by his conduct off the field.
Not only did Meggett father nine children from eight different women, he was arrested multiple times during his playing career for assaulting women and soliciting a prostitute.
His misconduct continued after retiring until Meggett was arrested in 2009 for crimes against a college student and sentenced to 30 years in jail.
This is the story of Dave Meggett.
Small in Stature, Big on Talent
David Lee Meggett was born on April 30, 1966, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Happy Born Day to Dave Meggett🏈
Man was he fast and fun to watch💨
Loved those Neumann gloves back in the day👌 pic.twitter.com/Y25pWyGa2n
— Goat Jerseys (@GoatJerseys) April 30, 2020
Before he was born, his father abandoned his mother and his siblings.
Not given much of a chance to succeed, and the lure of street life waiting just outside the front door, Meggett told his family he was going to make it big.
It didn’t matter that he was only five and a half feet tall at the time, Meggett was competitive and willed his team to victory.
As he was ending his prep career, Meggett had a scholarship offer from Morgan State and took the opportunity.
Meggett didn’t stay long at Morgan State, where he played in the secondary, and transferred to Towson College (later University) in Towson, Maryland.
At the time, the sports program played at the Division II level, and Coach Phil Albert’s squads had made the postseason in 1983 and 1984.
The team didn’t qualify for the playoffs in 1985 but returned in 1986, Meggett’s first year, with an 8-3-1 record before losing in the First Round to the Central State University Marauders.
I would say Dave Meggett (Towson University), but considering his criminal record let's go with Sean Landeta (also Towson). Yeah, he was a punter, but dude lasted 21 seasons in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/zoKlNkNc1a
— @Sports_Eagle (@DEagle_sports) April 23, 2022
That year, Meggett scored a program-record 16 touchdowns and also led the country with 199 all-purpose yards per game.
Before the 1987 season, the Tigers moved up to Division I-AA as an independent and won four games.
Meggett made a splash as the Tigers’ running back and return specialist and became the first Towson player to net 300 all-purpose yards in one game.
1988 and the Payton Award
In 1988, Meggett was one of the most electrifying players in football as a 5 ‘7, 190-pound terror.
During a game against the University of New Haven Chargers, he set a Towson record with 221 rushing yards.
The Tigers missed the playoffs again with a 5-5 record, but Meggett was named Towson’s first-ever All-American after running for 844 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He also set a Tigers record with two kickoff returns for a touchdown and an average of 32.2 yards per return.
That added to his program-best 25.5 yards per return during his career.
— Vintage LSU Football (@vintagelsuftb) April 30, 2014
Meggett’s stats were impressive and he was named the Walter Payton Award winner for the most outstanding offensive player at the Division I-AA level after the 1988 season.
Giants Select Meggett in the Fifth Round
Meggett may have been the Payton Award winner but detractors shied away from his small size, believing that Meggett could not withstand a beating from NFL players.
In fact, when New York Giants general manager George Young selected Meggett with the 132nd pick in the fifth round of the 1989 NFL Draft, head coach Bill Parcells was not pleased.
“What do I need another midget for?” sneered Parcells at Young.
To be sure, receiver Stephen Baker was 5’8, and fellow receiver Mark Ingram was 5’10.
However, all three could play at the highest level.
Meggett proved that when he exited training camp as the Giants’ primary kick and punt returner and scored a touchdown in his first game.
He then set the world on fire and led the NFL in 1989 with 582 punt return yards and one touchdown.
By season’s end, Meggett also had 577 yards in kick returns, 117 rushing yards, and 531 receiving yards with four receiving touchdowns.
In the final game of the season against the LA Raiders, Megget pinballed down the field for a 76-yard score that left viewers in a frenzy.
1989: All year long rookie Dave Meggett looked like he was going to break a punt return for a TD. He finally did here for 76 yards to put #NYGiants up 7-0 in 1Q on a cold XMas Eve. It was the 1st punt return TD for @Giants since Bobby Hammond in 1977 #TogetherBlue pic.twitter.com/lJw31vQyGo
— BigBlueVCR (@BigBlueVCR) February 16, 2023
While reviewing the play later that day, ESPN’s Chris Berman called out, “Look-at-that-little-Meggett-run.”
The undersized guy from the small college was named to his first Pro Bowl after the season and was a first-team All-Pro.
New York, meanwhile, got to the playoffs with 12 wins but lost in the divisional round to the LA Rams in overtime.
By Meggett’s second season, the Giants players loved him and even Parcells found a soft spot in his heart for the little engine that could.
Fellow Giants teammate Mark Collins said Meggett “walked around the locker room just shucking and jiving and laughing. He had that embracing, funny element to him. And everybody gravitated to him.”
There was a red flag when Meggett was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in 1990, but he was acquitted and the team simply dismissed the incident.
“We made fun of him the next year during team stretch,” said Collins.
As New York went 13-3 in 1990, Meggett led the NFL with 43 punt returns, 467 punt return yards, and one return touchdown and was voted as a second-team All-Pro.
Charlie Weiss on XM NFL Radio comparing Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson to Dave Meggett of the Giants in the early 90’s. A versatile tough player who was asked to do a lot!
— Bleeding Blue: Giants History Podcast (@Bleeding__Blue) April 20, 2022
Additionally, he had 492 yards in kick returns, 164 rushing yards, 410 receiving yards and another score.
The G-Men trounced Chicago in the divisional round before squeezing by San Francisco in the NFC Championship game.
New York then advanced to its second Super Bowl in five years.
Super Bowl XXV
In 1990, the Giants had the NFL’s best defense but also had a 15th-ranked offense.
Starting quarterback Phil Simms was lost to injury late in the year and backup Jeff Hostetler managed the rest of the way.
The Buffalo Bills had the league’s best offense and sixth-best defense.
So, it was no wonder that Buffalo was a seven-point favorite before Super Bowl XXV.
The thinking by the national media was, with no Simms, the Bills defense would have its way with the Giants offense and win easily.
New York defensive coordinator Bill Belichick had other ideas and came up with a game plan to slow the Bills significantly.
It worked like a charm.
Dave Meggett. Met in line at a Subway while he was with the Patriots. Seemed genuinely surprised not only that I recognized him, but that I remembered him from the Giants. Close second was Olympian Dennis Mitchell, who I met in Miami when our flight got cancelled pic.twitter.com/33dr8OCeIz
— Tomalan Cal (@TomalanCal47) May 22, 2022
During the contest, Hostetler played mistake-free football and Meggett was involved in every aspect of the game.
He accumulated 129 total yards in receiving, rushing, kick, and punt returns and the Giants proved to be too much.
Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired and New York won a thriller, 20-19.
Meggett Shines while the Giants Sputter
Not long after the Super Bowl, Parcells stepped down to work in television, and running backs coach Ray Handley took over.
Two straight losing seasons followed although Meggett continued to produce, netting over 800 yards and a touchdown in returns and snagging a career-high 412 receiving yards in 1991.
He also had nearly 700 return yards and his first kick return for a score in 1992.
Handley was fired after the ‘92 season and former Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves was hired in 1993.
1994: Commanders Week- Dave Meggett threw 3 TDs in his career with the #NYGiants and they all were against Washington. Wearing the throwback jerseys in 1994 this TD pass put the Giants ahead for good in a 31-23 win #BEGIANT pic.twitter.com/DeCf9e4glA
— BigBlueVCR (@BigBlueVCR) October 21, 2023
Reeves used Meggett as an occasional passer that season and he completed both his pass attempts for two touchdowns.
“David threw a perfect spiral on every one,” Reeves said after a practice where Meggett spent several reps as an option quarterback. “He’s got a great arm.”
Meggett also bagged over 600 combined rushing and receiving yards, 734 return yards and a punt return touchdown.
New York made the postseason with an 11-5 record and beat Minnesota in the Wild Card round before losing to San Francisco in the divisional round.
In 1994, the Giants just missed the playoffs at 9-7, but Meggett had arguably his best year.
He had 298 rushing yards and a career-high four rushing touchdowns, 293 receiving yards, 871 return yards, and an NFL and career-best two punt return touchdowns.
Meggett Becomes a Patriot
Meggett’s numbers were solid but he was still viewed by New York as more of a return man and less of an every-down running back.
By February of 1995, the Giants were at a stalemate with Meggett in renegotiating his contract.
The two sides weren’t far apart, but Meggett believed he was worth at least $2 million per year.
His New York teammates agreed, especially fellow running back and friend Rodney Hampton, who worried what would happen if the Giants lost their mighty mite.
“Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that the team will fall apart without him,” Hampton said. “But when you have a player that is so much a part of the team and does so many things, and especially when the guy is as good as he is, you lose a guy like that, it could really hurt you.”
Meggett also had a powerful suitor in Bill Parcells.
The Big Tuna had been hired by the New England Patriots in 1993 to be their coach and Parcells wanted Meggett to join him.
— Pats Historian (@PatsHistorian) October 1, 2017
Despite the interest, Hampton believed Meggett would stay in New York.
“I think he’ll be back,” Hampton said. “That’s my gut feeling. But the thing about negotiations is that you never know. Sometimes you think guys are going to stay and then something happens and they leave. But it seems like David is going to stay. I hope he does.”
Hampton’s optimism didn’t last long when Parcells offered Meggett a $2.5 million signing bonus to become a Patriot.
“The Giants had this thing that I was a part-time player,” Meggett said. “But I was a part-time player getting full-time results. I accounted for six touchdowns last season and Rodney Hampton had six touchdowns. I was part-time. He was full-time. Imagine what would have happened if I was a full-time player. The label of me being a part-time player was a bunch of junk.”
During the 1995 season, Meggett accounted for nearly 500 combined rushing and receiving yards (including a career-high 52 receptions) with two rushing touchdowns.
He also had over 1,300 punt and kick return yards for the 6-10 Pats.
Meggett and New England Reach the Super Bowl
As he was playing during the ‘95 season, Meggett was in the news again for a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend.
However, it was dismissed when the judge listened to oral arguments and said he believed Meggett “exerted reasonable force to stop [the girlfriend] from entering his home.”
Life continued and Meggett and the Patriots ascended the mountain in 1996.
Playing with a stacked roster, New England went 11-5 in ‘96 as Meggett racked up 1,783 all-purpose yards and one touchdown on a punt return.
— Ken Gelman (@kengfunk) March 14, 2017
Those numbers brought him a second Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro nod.
New England eliminated Pittsburgh and Jacksonville in the playoffs and squared off against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.
Unfortunately, the Pats came up short, 35-21, but Meggett played well and ended the day with 155 total yards.
In Trouble Again
In 1997, Meggett had one receiving and one rushing touchdown and added 1,283 return yards.
11-23-1997, Patriots beat the Dolphins 27-24 despite 3 2nd half TD runs from Karim Abdul-Jabbar. Patriots got INT returns of 60 yards from @LarryWhigham & 100 yards from Jimmy Hitchcock. Dave Meggett threw 35 yd TD to @RealTroyBrown80 . pic.twitter.com/486uXks0DE
— Scott F (@TheFrizz87) November 23, 2017
New England went 10-6 with new coach Pete Carroll and beat Miami in the Wild Card round before losing to the Steelers by one point in the divisional round.
A few weeks after the season ended, Meggett was in Toronto, Canada, to attend the wedding of a former Giants teammate.
During the bachelor party the night before the wedding, Meggett had sex with an escort named Betty Huryn.
At one point, Meggett got aggressive and Huryn wanted to leave, which just made him angry.
When Huryn tried to leave, Meggett slapped her several times across the face.
“…from one side of my ear to the other — boom, boom, boom,” said Huryn.
The police were called and Meggett stood trial for rape and assault.
After some deliberation, the result was a hung jury and Meggett looked like he had escaped trouble again.
Once the Patriots got wind of what happened, however, the team parted ways with Meggett under their “no tolerance” policy of violence against women.
“It was Bob Kraft’s mantra,” Don Lowery, the Patriots public relations man said. “When that incident happened, it was so egregious. And he liked David. You couldn’t help liking him.”
One More Chance
As Meggett was leaving New England, Carroll spoke to a reporter about why the Patriots released him.
“If you see a pattern developing, at some point you have to decide if that pattern is taking you down the wrong road,” said Carroll. “We can’t dictate behavior, but we can decide whether we want somebody to be part of what we’re doing.”
Bill Parcells wanted Meggett to be a part of what he was doing in New York.
After leaving the Patriots following the 1996 season, Parcells was hired by the New York Jets in 1997.
Dave Meggett pic.twitter.com/Oe2qcX2vcJ
— Random Jets Players (@JetsRando) May 3, 2023
Before the 1998 season, Parcells signed Meggett and he embarked on his worst season as a pro, accounting for only 95 total yards in two game appearances.
When the year ended, New York released Meggett and he was not signed by any other team, prompting him to retire.
During his career, Meggett had 1,684 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 336 receptions for 3,038 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns, and four of eight pass attempts for 114 yards and four touchdowns.
Additionally, he had 3,708 punt return yards, seven touchdowns 5,566 kick return yards, and one score.
Meggett was a two-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and played in two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXV.
30 Days until the NFL Draft: Dave Meggett
Drafted in the 5th Round by the Giants in 1989
2x Pro Bowler
3x All Pro
Super Bowl XXV Champion with the Giants pic.twitter.com/zsEvaKW5CY
— pavlick🥶 (@thepavlick2) March 26, 2019
When he retired, Meggett’s punt return total was the most in NFL history.
He is currently second all-time after Brian Mitchell.
More Legal Troubles
He then found work as the recreation director for the town of Robersonville, North Carolina in 2005.
The police chief for Robersonville did a background check on Meggett, found out about his numerous legal issues, and let the town manager know his concerns.
Instead of disqualifying Meggett as a candidate for the job, the manager hired him.
“But he didn’t want to hear that s***,” Chief Darrell Knox said of the town manager’s reaction. “He thought it would be good for the community. A black, ex-football player, he came up hard. And the town manager has always been a big sports guy.”
Meggett was good at his job, but he assaulted an ex-girlfriend while still an employee of the city and resigned from the position when questioned by authorities.
In 2007 and 2008, Meggett was arrested twice for sexual battery and sexual assault, respectively, with two different women.
The 2008 incident involved a 17-year-old teen.
That case was dropped when prosecutors questioned the victim’s credibility.
Meggett is Convicted
By 2009, Meggett was flat broke and his aggression toward women was about to come to an end.
In January of ‘09, Meggett was arrested yet again after robbing and raping a student enrolled at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
This time he would not escape justice.
On November 10, 2010, Meggett was sentenced to 30 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct and burglary.
Former NFL RB Dave Meggett Gets 30 years in Jail http://bit.ly/dlOxPa
— Major League Sports (@MajorSportsFeed) November 11, 2010
He is expected to serve at least 20-25 years behind bars.
One of Meggett’s children, Davin Meggett, played football for the University of Maryland and then spent time in the NFL.
In a 2014 interview, he shared that he loves his father, but is conflicted about his guilt.
“It’s my impression that whatever happened to my dad, and whatever my dad did, wasn’t his fault,” he said. “I think people in his situation would have done things too.” But then he said, “What he did wasn’t excusable, it was disgusting, it was wrong, it was unforgivable. But he’s not that nature of a man.”
As of 2021, Meggett was serving his sentence at Allendale Correctional Institution in Fairfax, South Carolina.
His earliest projected release date is July of 2034.