Stamps sign sex offender

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:11 PM ET

CALGARY - Tony Washington may have a checkered past, but the Calgary Stampeders are more interested in his future.

It took nearly a year for the Stamps to get Washington into Canada but the highly-touted offensive lineman finally arrived in Calgary Saturday.

The reason for the difficulty is simple. In 2003, Washington was charged with having consensual sex with his 15-year-old sister. At the time he was 16.

Now 25, he's a graduate from Abilene Christian University where he played Div. II football. He's paid for his crime and completed probation, but he can't seem to shake his past.

During the NFL combine, he bench pressed 225 lbs. 33 times and turned some heads as a projected second-rounder. No one drafted him and no free-agent offers came his way.

The Stamps put him on their negotiation list shortly after that and started the process of getting him into Canada.

Finally he was admitted Friday after securing paperwork regarding a psychiatric test he took years ago.

"This is a start," said Washington after his first practice Saturday morning. "I feel this is the break I needed to get to show people I can play football. I'm just trying to play football and live my life."

To make room on the Stampeders' roster, the team traded fellow import offensive lineman Junius Coston to Edmonton.

The headline 'Stamps sign sex offender' could be bad publicity for the team, but GM-head coach John Hufnagel isn't worried about public opinion.

"I have no control over that," Hufnagel said. "I'm comfortable with the decision I made of having Tony try to be a part of this team.

"Tony has never had a problem with teammates on any other team he's been associated with. I'm sure the players will be eager to learn more about the man and understand things about him as a teammate."

So far, the Stamps players have been welcoming to the 6-foot-7, 310-lb. physical specimen.

"He's got a second chance to move on and correct things and he's done just that," said quarterback Henry Burris. "That's why he's here with us today. He's been given an opportunity to continue his football career.

"We all work together as one. When you are in the fold, you are part of the team. He's battling for a job, and he will give it his all, so that's what we're focused on."

Washington had to deal with plenty of trash talk in college but says his teams have always been supportive.

"In my locker-room, people are understanding," Washington said. "In other locker-rooms, it's not so much. The locker-rooms I've been in they take care of their guys. I've never heard anything bad from any team since I was out of high school."

Every time he moves to a new city, he is forced to have his history come up, so he's prepared for the reaction in Calgary.

"I've dealt with it," said Washington, who has two sons, Tony Jr. and Tage. "My family has moved on and I've moved on.

"I'm taking it step by step. I hope that people see that. I try to be proactive when I come to a new community and show people that you have nothing to worry about.

"I'm just a guy playing pro football, raising his kids and living his life."

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