Stamps try to give ex-con a chance

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:23 PM ET

John Hufnagel believes in second chances.

He believes Tony Washington deserves one.

The problem with bringing in a player with a checkered past into the Canadian Football League is immigration officials sometimes have other ideas about letting a registered sex offender into the country.

The Calgary Stampeders GM-head coach has met Washington face to face, heard his story and believes he’s paid the price for his crime.

When Washington was 16, he was convicted of having consensual sex with his 15-year-old sister.

It was a horrible mistake, one that has nearly completely destroyed any chance he has of living a normal live let alone playing professional football.

But the label doesn’t completely describe the offensive lineman who is now 24 and eight years removed from the incident.

The Stamps may never get him into training camp, but they are still going through the process.

“If he shows up, good. If he doesn’t show up, we’ll move on,” said Hufnagel. “I knew the history would be a challenge.

“I have given a lot of players who are part of this team a second chance. I personally was comfortable with everything I discovered about the young man in conversations I’ve had and communications I’ve had.

“It was a good gamble to make.”

Washington played Div. II football at Abilene Christian College in Texas and was most recently playing with a Dallas team in the Arena Football League.

A year ago, he was projected to be a second-round NFL prospect, but all 32 teams passed on him and no free-agent offers came forward.

His past seems to be the reason why.

There are no guarantees he would be a good fit for the CFL, but Hufnagel isn’t afraid to give him a shot.

“He’s a great athlete but raw for the CFL game,” Hufnagel said. “The fact he has missed a lot of time, even when he gets here, it will hurt the young man’s chances.”

Hufnagel said the process of Washington getting into the country is ongoing as immigration needed documents such as one from a psychiatry test.

The coach is confident in his decision and said the team has done due diligence with the situation.

“No. 1, he went and graduated from Abilene Christian,” Hufnagel said. “That’s a strict religious school. He had glowing reports from the dean, the coaches and the president.

“Everybody who has dealt with Tony, most of them have had great things to say about the young man.”


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