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Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers seeks pardon for 1970 robbery

FILE -  This March 26 2013 file phoshows phohanging Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant surrounded by flood waters from

FILE - This March 26, 2013, file photo, shows a photo hanging at the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant surrounded by flood waters from the Missouri River in Blair, Neb. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding another meeting about the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. The plant, which has been idle since April 2011 because of flooding and a series of safety concerns, is moving closer to being able to restart, but neither regulators nor the Omaha Public Power District is setting any target dates for the restart. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska football great Johnny Rodgers has a date next month with the state Pardons Board, seeking absolution for a gas station robbery he committed while a student-athlete in 1970.

The 1972 Heisman Trophy winner was given two years of probation at his sentencing in June 1971.

“It’s just something that’s been hanging over me since that time,” Rodgers, 62, told the Lincoln Journal Star.

His request for a hearing is on the Oct. 8 agenda for the board, composed of Gov. Dave Heineman, Secretary of State John Gale and Attorney General Jon Bruning.

Sonya Fauver, the board’s administrative assistant, said Wednesday the board will decide that day whether to grant Rodgers a follow-up hearing. If so, he’ll return six to eight weeks later for a hearing that could include his testimony.

Fauver described a state pardon as “an act of grace” that restores any civil rights lost.

“You are still guilty,” she said.

The board won’t consider applicants unless their records have been clean for at least 10 years from their last conviction, Fauver said. In Rodgers’ case, he was convicted in 1997 of a driving under the influence misdemeanor, she said.

In 1987, Rodgers was convicted in California for an assault and illegal gun possession involving a cable television repairman who was disconnecting service to Rodgers’ San Diego home. The assault conviction was reversed on appeal, but Rodgers served three years of probation on the gun charge.

Rodgers said the robbery happened because he and two friends decided to do something wild. They got $91 from the gas station attendant.

“The next day we regretted it,” Rodgers said. Rodgers pleaded guilty to felony larceny and continued to play for the Huskers.

“This type of trouble can hound you for the rest of your life and it’s hounded me for most of mine,” he said, but noted he’s worked hard at overcoming his transgressions.

“I’ve been a fairly decent ambassador for the state of Nebraska and the university and for people over all,” he said.

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