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Daryl Washington reinstated: Former Cardinals teammate Jay Feely sees nuance

LISTEN: Jay Feely, CBS Sports NFL Analyst

Former Cardinals kicker Jay Feely remembers talking former teammate Daryl Washington through his legal and drug issues.

Feely is also a father and understands the seriousness of Washington’s aggravated assault charge from May of 2013, which led to the linebacker pleading guilty to assaulting the mother of his child.

Washington hasn’t played since 2013 but earned his reinstatement from the NFL on Tuesday, and now it’s for the Cardinals to decide if they want the linebacker back — and under what conditions.

“It’s a very complicated issue and obviously every answer is going to be nuanced,” Feely told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “If you want to say, ‘He shouldn’t be on my team, I don’t want him on my team; it doesn’t matter how good he can make us, what he did is unforgivable,’ I’m OK with that.

“I just picked my girls up from school. If somebody had broken their collar bone, they’re going to have a huge issue with me. It may be something that I can’t control myself what I’d do to a guy if he did that to one of my girls. I understand that.”

Feely, whose Cardinals tenure from 2010-13 matched Washington’s time in the desert, believes in second chances and would lean toward giving him a second chance — with a caveat.

“I would lean toward ‘yes’ if he’s a different person. I can’t answer that question,” the former kicker said. “I also get it from the other side, ’cause I was teammates with him when all that happened and I was friends with him. And I talked to him through it. I know what he was going through and the mistakes he was making.”

Washington getting that second chance will come down whether Arizona — or another team if the Cardinals decide to move on — sees a new man committed to working his way back to the NFL at the age of 30.

From a pure football perspective, Feely believes Washington has what it takes to make a comeback if he’s kept himself in shape.

“I would tell you that (the Cardinals) haven’t had, nor did they have before, have a linebacker that could do the things that Daryl Washington could do on a football field,” Feely said. “Sideline to sideline, the ability to rush, the ability to play the run, drop back into coverage, the dynamic plays he was able to make. And he was a very natural player.

“He wasn’t a guy that had to work hard in the weight room, he wasn’t a guy who needed a lot of reps. He was a guy who saw the game and read it and reacted. I would think that leaves him able to come back from a long absence from this than a lot of other guys.”

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