There’s a good chance most of us haven’t heard the name Earl Wolff before—as he was a fifth round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. After making little impact on the field in his first few seasons, Wolff’s name has surfaced in the news more recently because this offseason he was robbed and kidnapped at gunpoint in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C. in February.
While that’s scary enough to read, Wolff—who’s now with the Jacksonville Jaguars—has broken his silence on what happened that night his life flashed before his very eyes, recounting details and talking about how he’s still trying to get himself right.
My 2011 white Range Rover is parked on the street. As I get in and reach for the seatbelt, someone yanks my door open. There’s a man wearing a black ski mask and pointing an AK-47 inches from my face.
“Give me the keys!” he barks. “And get out of the car!”
I freeze, wondering if my buddy is playing a trick on me. I wonder if it’s a sick joke. I babble, but words aren’t coming out of my mouth.
“Give me your wallet! Your phone!”
I step out and hand over my belongings. Another man with a shotgun rushes toward me and shoves me into the back seat. Two other men with shotguns appear from the side of the house and hop in the car. The man with the AK-47 gets behind the wheel, and I’m squished between two of the masked men in the backseat. We begin driving around the neighborhood.
“Where’s the money at?” one shouts at me.
“I, I … I don’t have any money,” I stammer. “I don’t have a dollar on me.”
“Where’s the money at?” he says again.
“You can have the car, you can have anything you want,” I say. “Just let me get back to my family.”
“Why are you lying?” says the man in the front passenger seat. “Lie to me again and I’ll kill you.”
I can’t feel my mouth when I talk. I try to breathe. I think of my mom. I think of God. I stare straight ahead. I’m trembling.
The conversation with the robber goes back and forth, with Wolff describing how he felt numb and fearing for his life. The NFL player talks about how he led the attackers to a friend’s house, saying he may have more money to give them.
When they see I’m not lying, they ask if my friend has money at the house where they picked me up.
“Maybe,” I say. “If he does, he’ll give you whatever he has.”
We drive back to my friend’s house. I am led to the door with my hands in the air. I feel the AK-47 pressed against my back. My friend opens the door. He instantly slams it in my face.
I now think I am dead. I close my eyes.
My captors are panicking. I hear them conspiring, wondering if my friend has called the cops. They rush me back into the vehicle and secure zip ties around my ankles and my arms, which are tied behind my back. They put an itchy hat over my face. Now we’re driving and driving, and I have no idea where we are or what time it is. At some point, two other men get into the vehicle and five of us are crammed into the backseat. I am exhausted. I try to keep my faith. I try to think of my mom. I am numb, but she is all I have left.
The car jolts to a stop. I am pulled out of the back seat and shoved onto the road. Lying on my back, I think, I can’t die this way. And then, in the distance, I hear the faintest sound of police sirens. The men hear it too, and they scurry into the car and speed away.
I am left alone.
Wolff then talks about how he broke free, only to run into more trouble at a nearby trailer park when confronted by other people about what he’s trying to tell them is happening.
I manage to shimmy out of the arm ties, and then slide the hat off my face. I’m surrounded by the woods. I can’t free my legs because those ties are too tight, so I begin to hop. I hop and hop and hop down the road. I am looking for a house with lights on, but everything is dark. There are no cars driving by, just silence.
“This is not a joke,” I say. “There is nobody around me. I have just been robbed and kidnapped, can you please call the police?”
Another man appears in the doorway and points a handgun at me.
“Look, I play for the Jaguars,” I say, pointing to the team-issued shorts I’m wearing.
He’s still pointing the gun at me. I know they don’t trust me.
“OK,” I say. “All I did is ask for help, if you’re not going to help me please let me leave.”
I anticipate a shot being fired, so I fall down and roll on the ground. There’s a loud bang. Shot fired. I hear the men close the door, and I realize I can still feel my body. The shot was likely a warning, to scare me or anyone else who might have been lurking in the shadows.
But I am alone.
I am on the ground.
Wolff was eventually able to talk to police about what had happened, with the officers recovering his car and belongings, and the attackers arrested and charged with crimes a week or so later.
The entire story sounds like a nightmare from a horror movie, so glad to see Earl Wolff is both OK and slowly working himself back both mentally and physically.
You can read the entire details of Wolff’s story on MMQB.