Donte’ Stallworth made what he has previously called a “tragic lapse in judgment” when he killed a pedestrian while driving drunk back in March of 2009.
He was sentenced to 30 days in jail (he served 24 of the 30), two years of house arrest, eight years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service. He was also suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell for the entire 2009 season.
Now, after a year out of football, Stallworth is back, having signed a one-year contract with the Ravens.
“There was a time I felt the mistake I made was the end of the world for me,” Stallworth said in a statement released by the Ravens. “I’ve had trouble putting it into words. So, when teams started inviting me for workouts, and the Ravens called, I was excited. It means a lot that they would be willing to take a chance with me. I have a lot of people I am thankful for, and that now includes the Ravens. I can’t let any of these people down, including my family, Commissioner [Roger] Goodell and the Ravens.
“I will never get that morning back. It weighs on me every day and will for the rest of my life. What I can do is move forward, try to be a better person, try to convince others not to do what I did and warn others about the dangers of drinking and driving. I have to show otherwise that what happened doesn’t reflect who I am. I have to prove that, and, hopefully, I’m on my way to doing that.
“I know my apology will never be strong enough for some, but I’ve made changes, and I’m trying to be a positive influence. It’s an honor and privilege to play in the NFL, and I’m so thankful for this opportunity. I will make the best of it, and some people may listen to me because I will be playing. I hope I can do some good in delivering a message that could help someone or prevent someone from doing what I did.”
Stallworth has a number of connections within the Ravens organization, including head coach John Harbaugh, who was with the Eagles when Stallworth was in Philly in 2006, and wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, who coached Stallworth as a rookie in 2002 for the Saints.
“I know a number of the Ravens’ coaches - Coach Harbaugh, ‘Hoss’, Coach [Dean] Pees from my time in New England... even Coach [Cam] Cameron, who recruited me during my last free agency,” Stallworth said. “They know me. They stood up for me. They’ve shown faith. I can’t let them down.”
One major question that will be answered once minicamps begin is how physically fit Stallworth is after a year out of the league.
He hasn’t played in an NFL game since December of 2008, and at 29, it won’t be as easy for Stallworth to get into game shape as it once was.
He says that won’t be a problem.
“I’ve spent the last six months working hard with a trainer in case I got an opportunity to come back,” Stallworth said. “I felt I had to work extra hard since I wasn’t with a team. I’m ready to try and help the Ravens.”