(Reuters) - A player from the defunct XFL who was expelled from university for cheating in an online exam will now have an opportunity to forge out a career in the National Football League (NFL).
Kenny Robinson was taken by the Carolina Panthers with the 152nd pick in the draft that wrapped up on Saturday, and while he has no guarantee of ever playing an NFL game, being drafted is a huge step forward.
“It just meant the world to prove to everybody who doubted me, left me behind, that I was still working towards my goal to reach my dream,” Robinson said in an interview on the Panthers website.
Robinson has acknowledged the cheating incident, in which he got a friend to take an online test for him. The transgression was eventually discovered and got him expelled from West Virginia University.
Faced with limited options, Robinson entered the draft for the new XFL, but his career did not last long as the fledgling league, created to provide gridiron junkies with something to watch in spring, shut down after just five weeks, a victim of the coronavirus.
Never mind, Robinson’s next step was to explain the details of his university expulsion, in the hope that an NFL team would appreciate his being so candid.
“I made a stupid decision, and I don’t have any excuses. I had the opportunity to do the right thing, and I chose to do the wrong thing. That’s it. I own that,” he wrote, prior to being drafted, in an article for the Players’ Tribune.
Robinson said the expulsion had weighed heavily because it had brought about shame in the eyes of his mother, who was in the throes of battling multiple strokes and colon cancer.
But it sounds as though the wayward son has finally redeemed himself in his mother’s eyes.
“She just couldn’t do nothing but cry,” Robinson said of the draft pick. “It just meant the world to see her so happy.
“She’s been going great. About two weeks into the (coronavirus) quarantined she was finally released from the hospital for the last time. She got to ring the cancer bell.
“They said she’s free of cancer and now she’s just recovering from her two strokes and we’re trying to get her back healthy.”
At the same time Robinson will be on a mission to earn a place on the Panthers’ roster. He is a safety, a position that typically plays well behind the scrimmage, and as the last line of defense requires strong tackling skills.
“I was a professional,” he said. “Coming from XFL, that was my job, to play football all day, every day. All I did was eat, sleep football.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Kim Coghill