The Seahawks has had its share of controversies from substance abuse to weird scores. However, the beloved NFL team’s greatest controversy may have been with Brian Blades, a wide receiver for the Seahawks in the late ’90s. While other players are more likely to find themselves fined for breaking the rules or even in jail for less serious offenses, Blades almost found himself in jail for his cousin’s accidental shooting.
Brian Blades’ NFL career
In the 1988 NFL draft, Blades was chosen in the second round by the Seahawks and the 49th pick. The choice was beneficial to both parties because he spent his entire 11-year career (1988-98) with the Seahawks.
In 1989, Blades won the Marcus Nalley MVP award, the Pro Bowl, and the All-Pro award. Then, in 1990, he earned an award for being an outstanding wide receiver. In 1994, he received the Steve Largent Award, and he earned the NFL Man of the Year and Ed Block Courage Awards in 1995. Under his NFL stats, he had 581 receptions; 7,620 receiving yards; and 34 touchdowns.
Blades’ accidental shooting and trial
On July 5, 1995, Brian Blades was said to have shot his cousin with a 380-caliber Walther semi-automatic handgun, reports the Spokesman. According to Blades, the shooting did happen, but it was an accident. Although the WR went to Seattle for training camp, he returned to Florida to turn himself in after receiving a manslaughter charge.
Blades entered a no-contest plea, reports UPI, but then changed it to not guilty. The trial ended via the defense, who felt the prosecution made a critical error in the demonstration on the difficulty in shooting the weapon. When the weapon was jerked, it accidentally fired, which the defense felt gave more support to the argument that the shooting was accidental.
Initially, reports the Orlando Sentinel, he was found guilty and faced up to nine years and six months in prison. The verdict came as a surprise to many people, including Blades, following the 6-hour deliberation. In fact, Blades’ lawyers noted their shock over the verdict.
Blades’ acquittal and aftermath
After the trial, a juror approached the judge and stated they were uncomfortable with their vote. The exact circumstances were unknown, but it became clear that the juror wanted to change the verdict. In response, the defense prepared to argue for a mistrial dismissal. The judge overturned the conviction a few days later, reports the New York Times, due to the motions given by the defense.
They argued that the prosecution had not effectively proven their case for culpable negligence — a requirement for the manslaughter charge. In the motion, the inadvertent support of the prosecution through the accidental discharge during a demonstration provided more evidence that the shooting was accidental. As the judge overturned the verdict, the issue with the juror was not addressed and was considered to be a moot point.
While beneficial for Blades, this case was controversial in the perspective of the prosecution because of the assumption the judge took their judgment over the findings of a jury, as opposed to ruling based on law. According to family members and Blades, he got through the trial thanks to his faith.
In fact, Blades attributed his acquittal to faith, not to the jurors or judge. Following his trial, Blades has continued to have a strong support system that argues for his innocence and his kindness. Blades also notes he’ll have to deal with the incident for the rest of his life, but that he knew he was innocent and was grateful this was recognized in the court.