POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 4, 2011
There's certainly precedent.
Pisa Tinoisamoa, Colt Brennan and Davone Bess.
Football players who ran afoul of the law, were embraced by the University of Hawaii, and redeemed themselves while becoming stars for the Warriors.
It's good to remember UH's record when rolling the dice in these situations isn't perfect despite what some would have you believe. Every guy with a sketchy background that the Warriors coaches deem worthy of a second chance doesn't stay out of trouble, graduate and/or make it to the NFL.
But you can always point to the success stories when making a case for someone with a rap sheet.
SO NOW WE have Mike Edwards, a cornerback who UH coach Greg McMackin calls "The Real Deal." On the field, he's described by some as Ryan Mouton, but maybe better. A four-star prospect coming out of high school in 2009.
Just one snag. The Real Deal was charged with three counts of attempted armed robbery less than two years ago in Knoxville, Tenn., where he'd just completed his freshman season on the Tennessee football team. He and some teammates thought it'd be a good idea to hold up some people near a gas station at 1:45 a.m.
Edwards was allowed to plead down to a lesser charge because he didn't handle the pellet gun used in the incident, and he didn't have a prior record. He was given two years probation. In a phone interview yesterday, he said it was shortened. "I'm done," he said. "I was doing so well it was dismissed early."
He sounds like a decent 20-year-old guy who made a mistake when he was 18. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong people.
And because he's met the terms of the probation, his record is now considered clean again by the courts. "It was the only trouble ever in my life, first time in my life, any situation. I didn't even have a speeding ticket before," he said.
Because he is friends with Ted Ginn Jr. (Ted Ginn Sr. was his high school coach), Edwards has met Bess, who was Ginn Jr.'s teammate on the Miami Dolphins.
"He told me he'd been through some things, and we talked about my situation," Edwards said of his conversation with Bess. "We talked about my situation and how to approach life. I'm not sure he knows I'm going to Hawaii yet; I think he'll be happy."
I'll buy it for now. With what we know, Edwards is as deserving of a second chance as Tinoisamoa, Brennan and Bess were.
"He and three of his buddies got into sort of a prank situation," McMackin said. "The guy pulled a BB gun. He (Edwards) tried to stop him."
This is where I have a problem ... a prank? Really?
A prank is when your friend passes out and you paint his face with toothpaste.
A prank is when you shake a can of beer before giving it to your roommate.
Being part of a group pointing a gun and demanding money isn't a prank, even if it is with a pellet gun and not a .45, even if the victims have empty wallets and only a cheeseburger to surrender.
Just because it's one of the worst all-time robberies ever and we laughed when we saw it play out on ESPN a year-and-a-half ago, that doesn't make it a prank. All that — and someone wearing Tennessee football gear in the commission of the act — just makes it more stupid.
As for calling it a BB gun? If you're going to go there, might as well say it was a cap gun.
Every report I've seen or heard about this incident said it was a pellet gun — and pellet guns are significantly more dangerous than BB guns. According to the Consumer Warning Network, the projectiles from pellet guns "can be as deadly as a bullet" because of their velocity.
EDWARDS VISITED the UH campus two weeks ago. He and the UH coaches both say "love" when describing the other. For McMackin, love at first sight ... of his highlight video. "He reminds me of Shawn Springs," the coach gushed.
And the person, too. "Mike came here and made a big impression," McMackin said.
Edwards was in high demand coming out of high school, with the Big Ten and the SEC all over him. This time he said he was offered by "Kansas State, Cincinnati, Troy and a bunch of MAC schools. Ole Miss, but I didn't visit. I knew I wanted Hawaii."
And Hawaii wants Mike Edwards, at least most of us do. We'll see how it goes. We'll give him a chance; that's what we do here.
But having a felony described to us as a prank won't sway our opinions.