A March arrest on misdemeanor domestic violence charges affected his standing and allowed the Dallas Cowboys to pick him at the bottom of the third round, No. 92 overall.
“It hurt me a lot,” Lewis said. “You could tell. It definitely altered people’s opinion of how they want to handle it in the public, PR, different things like that. It definitely hurt me. I’m just so happy to be a part of a great organization right now. I’m just looking forward right now and ready to go to work and get down to Dallas and have a wonderful career.”
The Cowboys investigated the incident with team’s general counsel, Jason Cohen, playing a big part.
“We had a lot of information on the Michigan guys with [safeties coach] Greg Jackson being through there, so we had a great feel for what their character was like,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Jason was really running the traps on the details on the legal part of this.”
Said Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, “We have thoroughly looked at his situation much earlier, and one of his particular greatest attributes, assets, was his outstanding off-the-field character throughout his life, and on top of that, his great football character as well. We were satisfied that we would be OK there.”
Lewis said he would be completely exonerated and said he was innocent. He has a trial date on July 24, the day of the Cowboys’ first practice, but hopes the matter will be settled or thrown out before then. Regardless of the legal results, he could still face punishment based on the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.
Lewis and his girlfriend had a dispute on March 15 that started about a light being left on. He hid in the closet after the conversation turned loud and both parties said there was physical contact. The woman alleged Lewis dragged her across the living room and held her down by her neck. Lewis said he might have grabbed her neck, but that was in an attempt to get her off him. He said he was trying to leave.
“I completely think that all charges will be dropped and I think I will be exonerated from everything,” Lewis said. “I’m completely innocent. I believe that wholeheartedly. And I’m just going to have to see what happens in my next trial date.”
When he got the call Friday night from Jerry Jones, he was “elated.”
“This being a historic organization like the Cowboys, I’ve been to Michigan and everything like that,” Lewis said, “but to be at a great organization at the highest level means a lot.”