- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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For the second training camp in a row, the Jets will have a player coming from prison. A year ago, it was Plaxico Burress. This summer it will be second-year NT Kenrick Ellis, who will report to a Hampton, Va., jail on June 15 to serve a minimum of 45 days.
Ellis' legal issues, which came under the glare of the New York spotlight when he was drafted 13 months ago, finally got resolved Monday in a Hampton court room. A judge accepted a plea bargain, from felony malicious wounding to misdemeanor assault and battery, and imposed the previously arranged sentence -- 179 days in jail, with 89 suspended. With good behavior, he'll be out in 45 days, according to his attorney.
This worked out rather conveniently for the Jets and Ellis, whose attorney was able to negotiate the timing of the sentence. He won't miss any OTAs or minicamp, which ends June 14, and he'll miss only a few days of training camp. From a football standpoint, he'll be behind in conditioning, but it could've been a lot worse. From a real-life standpoint, it's six weeks behind bars for Ellis, who also got slapped with a $3 million civil suit by the victim.
The Jets took a lot of heat for drafting Ellis, who was looking at five to 20 years in prison at the time. They were desperate for a nose tackle and felt Ellis, despite his legal woes, was worth the gamble. This is what GM Mike Tannenbaum said after picking him: "Maybe his risk is more than others, but if we didn’t feel he’d be successful here, we wouldn’t have taken him."
The Jets probably are breathing a sigh of relief because, take my word for it, Ellis' situation caused a lot of angst within the organization. His situation was complicated by the fact that he's not a U.S. citizen -- he was born in Jamaica -- and a felony assault conviction for a non-citizen means deportation, based on immigration law.
But the Jets shouldn't feel any vindication here. A crime was committed and a player -- one of their players -- is going to prison. That's never a good thing. Tannenbaum & Co. still have to answer for Ellis, who, coming off a disappointing rookie year, still hasn't come close to validating his third-round status.
3dField Yates and Rich Cimini