August 5, 2012
Esks lineman did his time
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Devin Tyler can’t change the past, but will try to learn from it.
The Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman is back with the club having served a three-month jail term for assault, stemming from an incident in a Washington, D.C. nightclub last year.
Tyler could be back in the lineup as early as next week.
“I’m happy to be back to be with my friends, teammates, coaches, it’s a great feeling,” Tyler said Sunday. “It was a hard time, it’s a time that nobody wants to experience. I’m just glad it’s over with and that I can come back and play.”
Tyler, 26, was signed as a free agent prior to the start of the 2011 season. The six-foot-seven, 300-pound tackle suited up in 11 regular season and two playoff games for the Eskimos.
His sentence was pending while playing in the CFL last season and was handed down in May.
“It was an incident where a fight occurred outside of the club and really it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tyler said. “One thing led to another and I ended up getting charged. I did the time I was supposed to do and now that it’s over with, I can put it behind me.”
Tyler believes he came out of jail a changed man. The 90-day sentence gave him plenty of time to reflect.
“I learned a lot,” Tyler said. “Initially I was mad because I felt like the situation wasn’t fair, that I got a bad deal being incarcerated. But moreso I learned that I have to try and avoid those types of situations altogether. I can’t put myself in a situation where anything like that can happen.
“I have a bright future where I can keep playing football and if I can avoid any type of situation like that I would be grateful. I need to stay away from anything that can get myself or my teammates in trouble. I have to stay away from anything that can jeopardize my future.”
Despite his incarceration, the Eskimos decided to stick with Tyler and welcomed him back once his sentence was served.
It gave the Washington D.C. native something to look forward to upon his release.
“Honestly, when I found out they were still going to work with me, it almost brought tears to my eyes,” Tyler said. “Knowing that they had that much faith in me and believed in me and that I was a good guy and that it wasn’t an example of who I am. I’m really blessed to have those guys in my corner. I’m happy to be back here, it’s a great feeling.”
As far as the Eskimos are concerned, the situation is behind Tyler and the focus is on moving forward.
“One of the biggest things I’ve found as a player and as a coach, when people make mistakes too often the rewind button is pressed,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “You move on, you can’t go back and you can’t relive history. Devin has done his time, he’s paid his ‘debt to society,’ I support him 100% as a man and I look forward to him getting back on the playing field.
“I told him today that it will not be spoken about. That’s not Devin’s character, it was a mistake in judgment, not his character.”
Having been with the team for the majority of the season last year, the club doesn’t expect Tyler to take long to get back up to speed.
It’s unlikely Tyler will be ready to play when the Eskimos host the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday, but he could be ready to play against the Montreal Alouettes the following week.
“We’re going to try to get him back into playing shape as fast as possible and work him back into the tackle position,” Reed said. “Because we haven’t really changed our protection schemes, I think it’ll be pretty easy for Devin, he’s a very smart individual and he’ll do the extra things to get himself back mentally, I’m not really worried about that.
“I believe in a week or so, barring injury, Devin will be back on the playing field.”