You want a 6'6: 305lb OT with great mobility and technique that graded out with a 6.3 score at the combine last year, right? Who wouldn't?? The answer is everyone! Tony Washington, the controversial oLT who graduated from Abilene Christian U (ACU) this spring, is still not in the NFL. The answer why is simple, he's a convicted sex offender. Now before you write off this post like so many have written him off I ask you to please keep reading and hopefully with an open mind.
At 16 Tony was convicted of having consensual sex with his sister who was then 15. He served his punishment and continues to do so as a registered sex offender. While most people would have resigned themselves to a limited level of life with such a conviction, this man did not. He pulled himself up and went on to try and earn redemption on the field at a respected Christian university. They learned what a man of character and skilled player he is, and so did the college football community as he was named a 2 time Div II All American (his only 2 years there as he spent the first 2 playing a community college level).
While I'm repulsed by the situation on the surface, I also can understand the errors of youth even tho this one is pretty bad. Keep in mind this wasn't an adult committing a rape or molesting a child like is commonly associated with the distinction of being on the sex offender registry. This was a kid growing up largely unsupervised in the ghetto exploring sexuality. Does this make him a sexual predator, no? Does it mean he is a sexual offender, yes? Since the sister also says it was consensual I have to ask why she wasn't convicted too, but that's another issue. It should be noted that adolescent sex offenders have a 5-14% recidivism rate. This is a rate including predators, or more hard core twisted individuals. In the 8 years since he's shown nothing of his confused past except remorse.
I was curious what happened to him and found a very compelling article on his story at: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5497517 It really is worth the time to read. If you're like me you'll finish it feeling sorry for the guy and wishing some team, any team, would give him a chance to prove he's worth a look. Another interesting, but not as in depth article can be found at: http://www.acuoptimist.com/2010/09/a-waiting-game-tony-washingtons-struggle-to-realize-his-ultimate-dream/ I believe this man is hungry at a level yet unseen to prove himself. In the ESPN article there was an interesting section where the psychological testing he was given before the draft evaluated him as: Washington profiled as a leader. A sociable person. A man with resilience. "Nothing to indicate any trouble down the road”
So on to present. As we all know, the Lions are really in need of a oLT prospect to eventually take over for Backus. We don't know how Fox will develop, or if he even will. I hear some people suggest we spend a 1st or 2nd pick this year on a LT prospect from the lackluster group entering the draft. Tony Washington's' performance and combine rating would place him on par with how I project most any LT coming out in this years draft class. I really wish the Lions would sign Washington to the practice squad to see what he has to offer. He's no stranger to the ridicule and mocking and could actually help serve as an example of how a person can rise above the past. I think he would be so appreciative of the opportunity he would play out of his mind, so to speak. His loyalty to the team that gave him the chance could very well be massive.
While considering this here are some questions for you:
-In a day when the NFL has allowed in/back players who have committed manslaughter, rape, assaults, theft, drugs and whatever else, should the NFL make room for Tony Washington?
-Is the NFL going too far in forgiving criminals and should these types of players be banished? Is society?
-Can you as a fan forgive him enough to cheer for him if he was playing for your team?
-Do you think any NFL team will ever allow someone of his past in?
-Since she admits it was consensual should she have been arrested too? Should his conviction and record be expunged?