Here's video of Dallas Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers being put in cuffs and getting hauled off to jail for quietly enjoying an evening blunt with his friend in a park.
TMZ Sports has obtained the body-cam footage of Gathers' August arrest in Frisco, Texas ... and the clip shows the pretty unbelievable circumstances that led to Rico spending a night behind bars.
Gathers and his lady friend are in a public park, sitting on a bench having just enjoyed some weed ... when cops on bicycles cruise up to interrogate them.
They tell the tight end they could smell the marijuana ... and when Rico reveals he has one more fully unused blunt in his possession, the investigation escalates.
One cop pats the two down ... and ultimately decides to slap the cuffs on Gathers -- who says the weed is his -- telling him, "There's like no tolerance for that stuff here, okay?"
You can see the moment where it hits Gathers that he's truly about to be punished for such a minor offense ... 'cause he PLED with the cops to let him off with a warning.
"It's literally too close to game time," Gathers says ... "I play for the Cowboys ... I really don't need this right now."
"I know y'all don't want to see a grown man cry, but like, literally, this is too much. The media -- this is a lesson for me in general."
The cops take him to jail anyway ... and the TE was eventually charged with possession of marijuana -- a Class B misdemeanor.
Gathers had to fight the charge in court throughout the Cowboys' 2018 season ... and eventually struck a deal with prosecutors last week, agreeing to keep his nose clean for 90 days in order to have the charge dropped.
He also had to pay fines and fees.
Gathers -- who nearly lost his job because of the arrest -- finished with 4 starts at TE last season.