Super Bowl dreams go up in smoke
Seattle Seahawk Shaun Alexander (right) presents NFL fan Myles Wilkinson with a signed football at Commodore Ballroom Super Bowl party in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday February 3, 2013. A Canadian who thought thought he was heading for the experience of a lifetime after winning an all-expense paid beer sponsored trip to the Super Bowl in New Orleans has been blocked from the USA because of a 1981 pot possession charge. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Myles Wilkinson’s lifelong dream of journeying to the Super Bowl was crushed in an instant Thursday when American border agents at Toronto’s Pearson airport told him he wasn’t allowed past the border.
The Victoria man beat out four million competitors in a fantasy football contest, earning him an all-expenses-paid trip to Sunday’s big game in New Orleans, La.
But he was denied entry to the U.S. thanks to a pot possession charge stemming from 1981.
“This was stolen from me for something that happened 32 years ago that I had to pay a $50 fine for — there is no justice in this,” he said.
Wilkinson has travelled the U.S. numerous times since the charge, but this was only the second time he attempted to cross the border since 9-11.
The 51-year-old said he remained calm while pleading his case to border agents, some of whom were sympathetic to his plight, but he wasn’t granted a temporary pardon to enjoy America’s biggest game of the year.
“Instead, they essentially handed me a 32-year sentence.”
Although Wilkinson understands some people feel he deserves punishment for breaking the law when he was 19, he believes the ongoing consequences of his sentence outweigh the crime.
Dana Larsen, director of Sensible BC, said this type of situation happens to Canadians all the time.
“People who haven’t been convicted but have only been charged for cannabis possession often get turned back at the border.”
His organization is calling for reforms that would stop police from arresting people for cannabis possession and compel the government to regulate pot much like alcohol or tobacco.
There was, however, an immediate silver lining for Wilkinson.
Upon hearing of his ordeal, the NFL invited him to an official Super Bowl party at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom, where former Seattle Seahawk Shaun Alexander greeted him with an autographed football on Sunday.
Wilkinson was left beaming and repeatedly exclaimed “wow” upon meeting Alexander and ex-Dallas Cowboy Darren Woodson.
“That was very cool,” Wilkinson said.