Robert Baker, a former Auburn receiver who spent 10 months in jail for drug trafficking, resumed his football career Tuesday when he joined the Miami Dolphins.
The undrafted rookie free agent took part in the start of the Dolphins' three-day mini-camp. He signed a one-year contract Monday for $175,000, the NFL minimum.
"Our whole country and our lives are dealing with second chances," Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said. "A lot of people get second chances, whether it's a husband or wife or president or what have you. We decided to give him a second chance."
Baker, 23, was released on parole March 22 after serving a fraction of his 15-year sentence. He was arrested in April 1998 for selling cocaine three times to undercover police.
"He realizes he made a mistake, but that's part of his past," said Baker's agent, Rick Davis. "He's paid for it and will pay for it the rest of his life. He just wants an opportunity and a second chance. The Dolphins have given him that, and he's appreciative."
The Dolphins' offense includes two other players trying to rebound from legal problems.
Receiver Tony Martin, a starter last year for the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, faces a federal trial Aug. 2 on charges of laundering drug money. Rookie running back Cecil Collins spent a month in jail after pleading guilty to charges of fondling two women.
The 200-pound Baker, a native of Gainesville, Fla., caught 62 passes for 896 yards and seven touchdowns in 1995-96 at Auburn. He also returned punts and kickoffs, which helps his chances of making the Miami roster.
Baker was academically ineligible in 1997.
"He's a little rusty, but he'll get in the swing of things quickly," Davis said. "Now it's up to Robert to show everybody what he can do."
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