Andy Reid told reporters he "did his homework" on the "law enforcement incident" that jeopardized the NFL career of Birds' fourth-round corner Jack Ikegwuonu, even before Ikegwuonu blew out his ACL and his MCL getting ready for the NFL Draft Combine.
As most Birds fans worth their Google already know, Wisconsin corner Ikegwuonu and his twin brother, Bill, then a defensive back at Northern Illinois, were charged with felony burglary for trying to steal an XBox from someone else's apartment, in November, 2006. On Friday, Jack Ikegwuonu was scheduled to plead guilty to a reduced, misdemeanor charge, but reportedly, his brother would not agree, so the court appearance was postponed.
Jack Ikegwuonu had been considered a potential first-round talent when the incident occurred. But he had a subpar junior season in 2007, with the charge unresolved. Then he declared for the draft, and promptly blew out his knee getting ready. Reid said the Eagles don't expect Ikegwuonu to play this season. By 2009, presumably, both his knee and his legal status will have changed.
"I have been trying to profess my innocence since then, and show everyone that it's not what the prosecution is making it out to be," Ikegwuonu told a conference call with reporters yesterday. He said he could not discuss details of the matter.
Here is more of what Ikegwuonu had to say during the conference call with reporters:
On whether he was worried he would not be drafted and whether he was surprised he was drafted relatively high:
“Yeah, considering the situation I went through in January and then the other issue I had, I was trying to go into this weekend as optimistic as much as I could. I have good people around me, so they kept my head up and I was just hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. I was going to roll with any situation that I faced. I was just happy to be in Philly and, like you said, relatively high, considering my situation.”
On what he can say about untrue things that have been said about him:
“It’s tough to hear that you have character issues and stuff like that. I had never been in trouble with the law my entire life besides that one incident. So, it’s tough to hear that. But, most people that have gotten to know me and that have been around me my entire life know that I am not a troublemaker. I am a hard working kid and that I am just a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. Most of the stuff has been directed towards that issue and it’s tough to take it, but that’s part of the game.”
On what happened that day:
“I can’t talk about that. I have been advised not to talk about it that much. It is a pending matter and like you said, [head coach] Andy Reid did some research into it and he felt confident that it was not going to be a problem. (Addendum): I have been trying to profess my innocence since then and show everyone that it’s not what prosecution is making it out to be. So, I think I did a good job and that my campaign worked out well. Like you said, I got drafted relatively high, so I am happy.”
On whether he has been assured that he will be 100% and healthy for the camps in 2009:
“Yes, next year. I was trying to do everything I could to try to make a comeback for this year, but I think, for what is at stake and with the level of competition, it’s just not realistic to see me contributing on a significant level this year. Being at this position, at cornerback, and with the knee, it is something I should take my time with. I am just going to listen to the people in Philadelphia. I heard they have a really good staff and I am going to make a commitment with them to do all my rehab there. I am going to be ready as soon as I can.”
On how the injury happened:
“What happened was, that I was training, pulling the sled, and it kind of got tangled in my feet and I fell forward, trying to keep my balance and my knee got stuck in the turf and after that, it was hard to stay into it, keep my head up. I was not very optimistic about the draft coming up and then having a devastating injury like that, I didn’t know how to deal with that. I delayed the surgery until after the combine, so that at the combine I could be walking around and could present myself well. I then had the surgery and am two months out now. I am just happy to be in the NFL. It is a dream of mine. I am just waiting to get back into rehab and do what I need to do to get myself back onto the field.”
On how he has been able to stay positive during everything that has gone on:
“Having this opportunity is a blessing in itself. So, for anyone to really complain about where they were drafted and stuff like that, is ridiculous. There are people that would kill to be in this situation, to go to the combine and play in the NFL. I just count my blessings and am thankful for what I have gotten. I dreamed about playing in the NFL as a kid and just being here and having the opportunity to play is all I need and all I wanted in life. If getting drafted in the 4th round is the worst thing that ever happens to me, big deal. I have had a pretty good life. I am just happy to be able to contribute and have a chance to play.”
On why he decided to come out of college early:
“I was ready to take my game to the next level. A lot of people have a lot of different reasons for coming out early. I was ready to play in the NFL. I had been at Wisconsin for four solid years and I felt like I had put a good resume together to be drafted pretty high. Given my injury after I declared, you never can predict the future. People told me that I made the wrong decision, but if I went back to school and got hurt, people would have told me I should have left. So, you can never look back, just look forward, try to be strong and work hard.”
On who is his agent:
On whether he felt more confident coming out of some pre-draft interviews with some teams more than others:
“My story never wavered at all. I had been professing my innocence for a long time. I had gotten that down, so I was pretty confident going into them. I was confident in all of them. I really thought I presented myself well and painted a picture of a good kid, and a good kid that got involved in a situation that he was not looking for. Like I said, I think I did well in all the interviews and presented myself well.