Gators in NFL: Seahawks cornerback Dunbar on dropped robbery charges: 'My name is cleared. That's all that matters.'

By Bob Condotta
The Seattle Times
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Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar stands with teammates on his first day at training camp in Renton, Wash., on Aug. 16, 2020.

RENTON, Wash. — Quinton Dunbar, for now, will leave unspoken the details of what happened the night of May 13 in Miramar, Fla., that threw his life into upheaval.

While Dunbar has been cleared legally of four felony armed robbery charges, the incident itself remains still in the legal process, with New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker still facing four counts of robbery with a firearm.

Dunbar also could still face discipline from the NFL, which could suspend him for violating the league's personal conduct policy despite the fact charges have been dropped.

So, when he met the media via Zoom on Friday for the first time since before news of the incident broke, Dunbar chose his words carefully while making it clear he feels he did nothing wrong.

"I can't really speak on what happened," Dunbar said. "But the truth will eventually come out. ... I'm good. My name is cleared. That's all that matters."

Dunbar and Baker were alleged to have been part of a group of three men who stole $73,000 in cash and jewelry at a party that featured an illegal dice game. The police initially portrayed the incident as the men's attempt to make up for previous gambling losses.

Dunbar's lawyers later portrayed the entire incident as an attempt at extortion. One of his lawyers, Andrew Rier, told The Seattle Times that Dunbar "was never involved" and that "the people who made these allegations have issues."

While Dunbar avoided specifics Friday, his comments were in line with those of his lawyer, who said his only crime _ if there was one at all _ was who he associated with.

Dunbar said he had "never met those guys" until the incident: "I pretty much don't know nothing about those guys."

Near the end of his roughly 10-minute Zoom session, Dunbar was asked what he'd learned from the situation.

"I just gotta learn to protect my energy and protect my space, man," he said. "I mean, I can't be around, you can't save or be around everybody, you know, try to make everybody happy. You got to understand who you are and what you work hard for and you've got to protect that, because everybody don't have great intentions."

The news of the Dunbar investigation surfaced a few hours after he talked to Seattle media via Zoom for the first time May 14. The Seahawks acquired him in a March trade with Washington for a fifth-round pick.

That foreshadowed a three-month ordeal that took several bizarre turns, including a report of orchestrated payouts to witnesses in exchange for affidavits changing their story and instead proclaiming Dunbar as innocent, and Dunbar's initial lawyer later taking himself off the case.

Dunbar said it was a wearying time in which he had trouble concentrating on much of anything.

"I wasn't even really worried about football at the time," he said. "I was just worried about cleaning my name ... I was depressed. I didn't really do anything, couldn't eat.

" ... I mean, when you face armed robbery, man, that carries life (in prison) in Florida. So I mean, really, that's self explanatory."

One reason the Seahawks found Dunbar appealing was his story of perseverance, growing up in a rough area of Miami to earn a scholarship at the University of Florida, arriving in the NFL as an undrafted free-agent receiver and making a successful change to cornerback.

By last season, his fifth in the NFL, he was regarded as among the best in the league before suffering a hamstring injury that cost him the final five games of the season.

Friday, Dunbar referenced his road to the NFL when asked what he would say to fans about his character.

"I felt like before that situation it spoke for itself," he said. "Never been to jail, never been in trouble, never came encounter with the police from doing anything illegal. Now all of a sudden, when I make it this far, where everything I grew up wanting and I just put it out there on the line for something silly like that? People going to believe what they want. I know who I am and what I stand for. That's all that matters to me."

Dunbar said he was "very appreciative" of the Seahawks supporting him while the situation played out, though he added "at the same I know what I did do and I know what I didn't do."

The Seahawks allowed Dunbar time away from team responsibilities initially before he returned to regular Zoom meetings in the spring.

Once charges were dropped, the NFL quickly announced he was taken off the commissioner's exempt list and allowed to finally come to Seattle for training camp. He arrived Aug. 9.

As Dunbar noted, he could still face discipline from the league.

"There's definitely a possibility," he said, indicating he has not heard one way or the other.

Once cleared to come to Seattle, Dunbar had to go through the league's five-day COVID-19 testing protocol before finally getting on the field in earnest this week.

Thursday, he got his first snaps in an 11-on-11 period working at right cornerback, the position he is expected to take over from incumbent Tre Flowers.

While Dunbar is familiar with much of what Seattle does technically and schematically, he missed much of the offseason program and the early part of training camp, so, as he said, "I've got a long way to go" to catch up.

For now, he said, simply getting back to football is good enough.

"It was everything, man," he said of what it meant to walk on the field this week. "I had a long few months, man, just going through the situation I was going through. It was hard for me to do anything. So just getting back to training and running and trying to get back, man, is everything to me."

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