Ex-Eagle out to avoid being jailbird

Freddie Mitchell blames NFL injuries for conviction of trying to defraud government

Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell is claiming brain injuries suffered during his NFL career caused him to try and defraud the government.

Mitchell, 34, was convicted for a tax fraud scheme in which he cheated the government out of millions of dollars. He is facing 10 years in prison.

Mitchell's lawyer, Rick L. Jancha, argued his client has physical and mental disabilities from his years spent playing football. Mitchell's attorneys also had U.S. District Judge John Antoon II watch a documentary about the link between the NFL and brain injuries.

Mitchell, 34, spoke Thursday in court. "It's been a challenge" to admit to health problems, he said.

"I am truly sorry, and I take responsibility for my actions," said Mitchell, who is best remembered for his fourth-and-26 catch in Philadelphia.

He talked about having notepads around his home to help him remember things and experiencing painful headaches.

Mitchell's girlfriend testified that the former UCLA player can lose track of his thoughts in a conversation.

In March, Mitchell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file a false claim with the government. The maximum punishment is 10 years in prison. Mitchell's potential prison range is estimated between 37 to 46 months. Mitchell's lawyers are requesting that he receive probation and community service.

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