For the first time since his suspension, linebacker Daryl Washington has said something publicly. Reporter and radio host Mike Jurecki spoke with Washington recently and he came out sounding like a man ready to move forward after some dumb choices.
Washington can begin the reinstatement process at the end of this month and can be reinstated as early as the end of May. He will also possibly face further league discipline for his domestic violence charge, for which he pleaded guilty to a a felony, which should now have been reduced to a misdemeanor.
Washington told Jurecki he recently completed a 38-week anger management/domestic violence program, which was part of his plea deal.
He also told Jurecki he has not failed or missed a drug test since his suspension. He was suspended under the league's substance abuse policy. He could be tested up to 10 times a month. So if true, he has been good about keeping himself clean and he has not failed to show up for tests -- something he did multiple times before his suspension.
Washington is now ready to get back to the game. "I'm ready for a fresh start and excited about playing football again," he said. "I've even thought about changing my number."
That would be a symbolic move, putting his past behind him and moving forward. He has worn No. 58 since being drafted by the Cardinals.
While suspended, the Cardinals organization has not been able to contact him and they have had the policy of not talking about him while he is suspended. Washington, though, has had contact with hims former teammates. "A lot of his teammates have reached out, and have been supportive throughout the process," he told Jurecki.
Players have come out and said Washington will have to work to gain respect in the locker room again, but there has been no indication the players would not welcome him back.
A productive return by Washington could change the defense. The team signed Sean Weatherspoon and have already given him the keys to the defense. He will make calls and be the Karlos Dansby of 2013. If the Cardinals choose to bring him back, pairing him with Weatherspoon would give the Cardinals the same dynamic in 2013, as the middle of the field will be filled with speedy playmakers, which would give the Cardinals the ability to defend better against Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.
Of course, Washington has a ways to go, but he is already on the right path, having completed his program and having stayed clean. If he can stay clean from here on out, he could be a game changer on defense.