ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — A gun charge against NFL linebacker Khaseem Greene has been dropped because the man who said he gave him a weapon admitted he lied, the player's attorney said.
Greene, who had the charges against him dismissed by a judge on July 17 after a request from prosecutors, said the legal trouble has been "probably the toughest time of my life" and has been "very hard emotionally and mentally."
"People started looking at me differently and accusing me of being this thug, this monster, and all of it was false," he said by phone.
Greene's attorney, Joshua McMahon, provided to NJ.com an audio recording of the other man telling detectives he lied about Greene's involvement in a shooting outside a nightclub in Elizabeth last December.
The other man's admission came the day he told detectives Greene, who's from Elizabeth, was involved, but it wasn't included in a criminal complaint that alleged Greene was seen on camera handing him a gun, McMahon said.
The man, Jason Sanders, is accused of firing into a crowd and remains jailed on aggravated assault and weapons offenses. He has not entered a plea. He's represented by a public defender whose office policy is to not comment to the media.
Greene declined to comment on specifics of the case on the advice of his attorney pending a federal civil rights lawsuit he intends to file. His attorney said he has filed a tort claim notice warning of the lawsuit.
The prosecutor's office said it couldn't comment on specifics of the case while the case against Sanders is pending. Elizabeth's mayor and the police department declined to comment.
McMahon said the audio recording proves prosecutors moved forward with charges even though Sanders admitted he lied.
"The prosecutor's office and police department worked in concert to repeatedly perpetrate at least two lies to the judge who they sought the initial arrest warrant from and the grand jurors who returned the indictment," McMahon told NJ.com.
The Kansas City Chiefs released Greene the day charges against him were reported in May. Greene had signed with the team in January. A Chiefs spokesman had no comment.
Greene said he's working to get back into playing shape and hopes to get a call from a team but he's also preparing for the possibility of a career after football.
"I love the game. It saved my life. It helped my family get to another place," he said. "At the same time, I've been doing it for so long. I'm being realistic. The NFL life is very short."
Greene, who starred at Rutgers University, last played a game in 2014 for the Chicago Bears, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. He appeared in 25 games with six starts over two seasons for Chicago. He had 60 1/2 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble to go with seven special-teams stops.
Greene wore No. 52 for the Bears to pay tribute to his friend and former Rutgers teammate Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed while playing for Rutgers in 2010.
Greene was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012.