Every year, a handful of NFL prospects are faced with unfortunate legal entanglements. The New York Jets devoted a third-round pick to a player who has one.
And it’s a big one.
Per Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, defensive lineman Kenrick Ellis faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of felony assault. The trial is set for July 12.
Ellis allegedly broke the jaw and nose of a man during an altercation on the Hampton (Va.) University campus.
The Jets are calling it a “pending legal issue,” which sounds a lot better than “possibly two decades in the clink.”
“Maybe his risk is more than others, but if we didn’t feel he’d be successful here, we wouldn’t have taken him,” G.M. Mike Tannenbaum said, per Cimini. “It was appropriate to take him where we took him.”
Ellis declined to address the situation, in remarks distributed by the team. “That is a pending legal issue,” Ellis said. “I cannot really talk about that right now. I apologize it is [still] pending.
He wouldn’t even address the status of the “pending legal issue.” Said Ellis: “I cannot get into it if there is a trial or anything. I’m sorry sir.”
Ellis nevertheless thinks his problems are behind him, even if he ends up in a place where he literally may have to worry constantly about what is behind him.
“Yes I am,” he said. “I am very confident. A lot of things happened when I was younger. I am not proud of it but I have learned from it. It was a learning experience and I have learned from my mistakes.”
Though he won’t talk specifics, he has no problem admitting that, at some point in his life, he did things he shouldn’t have done.
“I am human,” Ellis said. “I have made mistakes. I feel like from me making these mistakes I have learned from them and have grown as a person. I have moved on from the mistakes I have made in the past that I will never do them again. I am a different person from who I was then. . . .
“I am not perfect. I have made some mistakes. At a point I realized, life is too short. From everything I do to every mistake I made, I learn from it. I just try to use that to make decisions in the future and make me stronger. Given that I did make those mistakes makes me the person that I am today. Which is a better person, much smarter, and more mature.”
Even if Ellis never makes another mistake, he possibly has made just enough of them to prevent him from ever playing pro football. Though the maximum sentence that is attached to any charge rarely matches the ultimate sanction imposed, a ceiling of 20 years implies a floor that entails real time behind bars.