Former Lakewood High and Gators star Dante Fowler, now a defensive end with the Jacksonville Jaguars, spoke Wednesday for the first time since his arrest in St. Petersburg last week, apologizing to his team and fans.
"I would like to start off by apologizing to the organization of the Jacksonville Jaguars and also the city of Jacksonville for my actions and for what had gone down," Fowler told reporters as the Jaguars opened training camp. "I just wanted to let people know and everybody know that's not me as a person. I'm a better person than that, and it won't happen again."
Fowler faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and criminal mischief from his arrest, and entered a written plea of "not guilty" on Tuesday. According to the arrest report, he was driving in an apartment complex when a man made a comment about his driving, and Fowler got out of the car, exchanged words with the man, hit him, knocking his glasses off, then stepped on the glasses. He picked up the man's grocery bag of "recently purchased liquor" and threw it in a lake, according to the report.
Fowler did not address a March 2016 arrest in Miami Beach, also first reported by the Times, in which he was charged with misdemeanor counts of assault against a police officer and resisting arrest without violence; those charges were dropped in December after successful completion of a pre-trial diversion program.
Fowler said Wednesday that he appreciated the support of his teammates and coaches, and that he had talked with head coach Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars' executive vice president for football operations.
"They've been very positive and actually made me feel really good to see them supporting me, and just being there for me and asking me if I'm okay," Fowler said. "Like I told Tom, I'm very sorry and I told him that I apologize and I can't make the organization look like that."