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Former Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Vikings football player Erasmus James was placed in a first-offenders program Tuesday after pleading guilty to a felony battery charge stemming from an incident in a campus-area bar last year.

James, 27, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty to substantial battery for punching a friend, Kyle Massey, on Nov. 5 at Wando's, 206 University Ave. According to a criminal complaint, Massey had tried to calm James after he reacted angrily to a bartender who wouldn't serve him after last call.

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James, a former defensive lineman for the Badgers, was a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2005 and played 23 games with the team through 2007. He played five games with the Washington Redskins in 2008.

If James follows the rules of the first offenders program, the battery charge would be dismissed. But if he fails to follow the rules, he would be summoned back to court for sentencing.

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