Tommie Campbell knew the way he was being portrayed this off-season, and how it looked for the Calgary Stampeders.
For that, he’s sorry. But he won’t be apologizing for returning to Canada and the CFL now that he’s put drug trafficking charges behind him.
At first glance, the story sounded like the defensive back was guilty of something nefarious. Campbell ran away from police when they visited his mother’s house in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, this past January, and then a Stampeders bag containing drugs and money was found.
Of course, the bag had to be Campbell’s, as he is the only Stampeders player from the area, and in the court of public opinion, he was a drug trafficker.
Campbell turned himself into police, followed procedures and was eventually cleared of all charges.
Still, in said court of public opinion, there will be those who will paint him with the ‘guilty’ brush regardless of whether he was cleared of wrongdoing, and that simply isn’t fair.
The Stamps welcomed the 29-year-old to training camp on Sunday, a week late from the start of the spring session because paperwork was taking time to process.
Campbell couldn’t be more thankful that the Stamps stood by him during the entire ordeal. They waited to see if he was guilty in the eyes of the courts, and now that he was not, they are getting their all-star corner back.
“I wanted my name to be cleared obviously, but I wanted people to understand that what you read and what you heard, those things aren’t true about me,” Campbell said on Sunday. “I’m a very humble guy and I’m ready to win a championship.
“I’m just thankful everything worked out. I appreciate the organization for standing behind me. I take full responsibility for putting myself in a bad situation. I’m ecstatic to be here. For all my teammates who have shown love and support, I thank them.
“I can’t get too down on myself. I have to continue to live life. I have to trust in the court system, the law system.”
The Saskatchewan Roughriders went through a legal situation with one of their players this off-season, but the circumstances are quite different from Campbell’s. Justin Cox was charged with domestic abuse, and the Riders released him immediately. Cox was acquitted in Regina, but he still faces separate charges in the U.S.
Cox has a history of issues, and he will go on trial this summer for an incident in 2015 that led to his release from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Campbell simply doesn’t have the same reputation, and actually his story is inspiring. He returned to college after a two-year stint working at the Pittsburgh International Airport, and eventually made himself a viable pro player.
Now the Stamps and Campbell himself are ready to move on and focus on football. Although he’s hampered by a hamstring injury right now — suffered while racing a vehicle, something he claims is a regular training thing — Campbell can’t wait to make amends for the 2016 Grey Cup loss in Toronto.
The goal is to bring himself and the organization a championship, something that would be reward for sticking with him when others would have buried him.
“You are known by how you treat people,” Campbell said. “I was here the whole season last year. I communicated with them the whole time. They gave me an outline of how everything was.
“They were still behind him. If things didn’t go so good, then I wouldn’t be here and that’s fair enough. That’s the only thing I can be thankful for. I put all of it behind me.”
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