Broncos safety Ryan Murphy couldn't have been expecting to make many headlines during Super Bowl week.
While he traveled with the team to Santa Clara, where the big game will be played on Sunday, February 7, he couldn't play, since he's a member of the practice squad.
But Murphy managed to make big news anyhow, albeit in the worst possible way.
He was sent home by the team after he was questioned amid a Santa Clara prostitution sting.
Murphy, who plays safety, was a star at the collegiate level while playing for Oregon State.
But his time at the institution wasn't all triumphs and accolades.
That's clear from the following video, a so-called sizzle reel (footage intended to capture the eye of NFL personnel departments) that features this description:
When Fred Thompson died suddenly in 2011, Oregon State safety Ryan Murphy lost a teammate, a best friend, and a brother. In commemoration of Thompson, Murphy devoted his time, heart and commitment to carry out their dream of playing at Oregon State together and in the NFL. Since then, Murphy has given his all on the field and off the field to be a leader and an inspiration to others. He has shown perseverance and strength while aspiring to keep his promise and play in the NFL.
Here's the clip.
Murphy's hopes for NFL stardom have gotten off to a slow start, however.
His page on the Broncos' website contains basic information (height: 6 feet; weight, 214; age, 23; hometown: Oakland; status: rookie) plus these two brief sentences:
Ryan Murphy, a rookie safety out of Oregon State, was a seventh-round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks. He was waived by Seattle on Sept. 5.
Murphy was a three-year starter for the Beavers, and started 11 of 12 games in his final season as he finished with 65 tackles, eight pass break-ups, seven interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
No photo is included.
Nonetheless, Murphy's position on the practice squad earned him a trip to the Super Bowl, conveniently scheduled in the Bay Area he knows so well.
That's where he stumbled into what CBS' affiliates in San Francisco and San Jose jointly characterize as a prostitution sting carried out by Santa Clara County’s multi-agency human trafficking task force.
Such operations have been a focus in Santa Clara over recent years.
In January 2015, for example, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office "participated in a press conference with the County of Santa Clara Office of Women's Policy on Human Trafficking," according to a Facebook post.
"Since, July 1st 2014, the Sheriff's Office Human Trafficking Task Force has recovered ten victims of Human Trafficking and we currently are investigating over fifteen cases of Human Trafficking operations," the post adds.
The SCCSO also shared the following graphic related to its human trafficking inquiries:
No surprise that a renewed focus was placed on such efforts during the run-up to the Super Bowl.
After all, prostitution is thought to boom around such big events.
Note that in 2014, prior to the AFC championship game in Denver, an organization called Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking sought to bring attention to the issue.
As our Melanie Asmar reported at the time, club employees handed out "trading cards printed especially for the game. On one side, the cards look like a vintage-y souvenir. On the other side, they proclaim that 'Sex Trafficking Is Modern Day Slavery!' and include tips on how to spot a sex-trafficking victim. The cards also include phone numbers for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline."
Asmar also told us about the bust of a prostitution and drug ring in New York City ahead of Super Bowl 48, in which the Broncos also participated; the graphic above is from that series of arrests, known collectively as "Operation Out of Bounds."
Murphy wound up out of bounds, too.
According to sources cited by KPIX5 in San Jose, police involved in the sting "detained a suspected female prostitute in the area of North First Street and Brokaw Road."
Here's one look at the area near the scene — a Motel 6....
The woman subsequently told members of the task force "that she had to go to a car that was parked in a gas station near the intersection to retrieve some property," the station continues.
Inside the car was Murphy, as well as his brother, who's said to have had a "relationship" with the alleged prostitute.
The woman and Murphy's brother were cited by law enforcers, while Murphy was questioned and released — but his proximity to such a seamy event was too much for Broncos coach Gary Kubiak.
"Although practice squad safety Ryan Murphy was not cited by police, we decided it was best for the team if we continued our preparations for Super Bowl 50 without him," Kubiak noted in a statement. "Ryan is returning to Denver, but his status as a practice squad player has not changed at this time."
Whether he'll remain with the team over the long haul is another question. But in the meantime, he'll be watching the Super Bowl on TV somewhere rather than in the stadium with his teammates.
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