When the allegations were first made public on June 10, Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor feared for his football career.
“To be honest with you,” he said, “there were points I thought an opportunity that was given to me to play for this organization and to have the life I have could have been taken from me.”
Agholor last month was accused by an exotic dancer of sexual assault during a visit Agholor made to a gentleman’s club in South Philadelphia in early June.
It wasn’t until about a month later — July 18 — that Agholor was cleared when the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office announced that no charges would be filed against the 23-year-old second-year pro.
On Thursday, after his first practice of training camp, Agholor spoke for the first time about the allegations.
“I put myself in a poor situation, and the most important thing for me was to realize that no matter what’s going on, if I make the right decision, I won’t be there,” he said after an afternoon practice in the Eagles’ indoor bubble.
“I put myself in that position going there, and to be honest with you, as I look at it, at the end of the day, it’s either neutral or negative consequences being in a place like that. So I made the wrong decision being there. …
“It definitely puts me in a position where I truly have to re-center my focus and remind myself who I am. You know? Being associated with anything like that is not who I am as a man. Falling short and even being associated with that, you’ve got to make sure you find yourself again and be yourself. Truly be yourself. And that’s what I’m going to do from here on out.”
Agholor declined to talk specifically about what happened at the strip club that day in June, but he did say the first few days, especially after the allegations came out, were very difficult for him and his family.
“Tough. Tough,” he said. “For a few days I sat back and I was in shock. But after a while I had to realize, I put myself in that position and all I can do is grow and find ways to get closer to my family and get closer to the people that had my back and just continue to grow and also train because I couldn’t let it defeat me twice.
“If I had just sat around moping, I wouldn’t be prepared to perform today. So I continued to train, stay with my family and get myself ready.”
Agholor said after the allegations came out, he returned home to Tampa to reconnect with his family and start the process of deciding exactly what kind of changes he had to make in his life to be the person he wanted to be.
“My parents were disappointed,” he said. “But they also understand that the best I could do is respond the right way. The actions were the actions. But what was I going to do after that from here on out?
“[Becoming] closer to my younger brother, taking care of my little sister, being there every day, being there for my family, making the right decisions. And they were proud of the way I responded.”
Agholor, the 20th pick in last year’s draft, had a disappointing rookie year, with just 23 catches for 283 yards and one touchdown.
So even before these allegations were made public, a lot of Eagles fans were disappointed in Agholor.
Now he has more to overcome to win the fans back. Because even though there won’t be any charges against Agholor, his reputation has definitely taken a major hit.
“At the end of the day, what I did gives everybody enough to say, ‘Hey, man, you did something wrong,’” he said. “At the end of the day, they have every right to do that.
“But as a man, I’ve got to do stuff from here on out to show who I am as a person and the type of man I’ll be.
“You never wish for negative things to happen to you, but they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I swear I feel way stronger. I do.”
It’s hard to imagine anybody coming across more genuine in such circumstances than Agholor Thursday.
His voice shook as he spoke of the faith that Chip Kelly, Doug Pederson, Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie had in him and how he let them down.
“I fell short of my mission and I understand I should have done a better job,” he said. “From here on out, I have an obligation to do the right thing and to be the right person for this organization.
“What’s going to change? Understanding that every day I have an opportunity to take care of the life I have and to be a good person.
“I made a [poor] decision. I wish I didn’t. But at the end of the day, I have to make a conscious effort every day when I wake up to feed myself the right stuff and be around the right people and make the right decisions and hold myself accountable. So that’s what I’m going to do.”