28 Days Later....Tomorrow

It's been nearly four weeks since two John Jay players blindsided veteran official Robert Watts. In that time, accusations have flown, punishments were given, mullets were worn, and statements were made and retracted. In the forum of public opinion, these boys should never be allowed to play football again, but to Northside Independent School District, these boys were merely misguided and acted wrongly; their actions will lead to a 75 day alternative school stint. Once they return from suspension, however, the boys will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities (it is not known if the coaching staff will allow sophomore Victor Rojas to return to the football team).

 John Jay players Mike Moreno and Victor Rojas, Referee Mike Watts
Robert Watt (bottom left), Victor Rojas (top right), and Mike Moreno (bottom right)
Credit to links.com for the photo

On September 18th, the two players, Rojas and senior Mike Moreno, appeared on Good Morning America to voice their side of the incident. This was the worst decision the two boys could have made as Moreno stuttered his entire statement and Rojas wore an atrocious mullet --which should be a crime in itself-- and was inaudible for half of his statement (although both admitted they regret the incident, neither one of them apologized to Watts). Both students came out from this interview under more scrutiny as they broke their silence days before the NISD and University Interscholastic League hearings, but weeks after the initial incident and suspensions occurred, which begs the question: in what way does it make sense to have these poorly-coached (in public speaking and football) students speak about their experiences to a reporter who isn't exactly on their side of the argument? The parents and lawyer of these two should take an overwhelming amount of the blame should these two face additional punishments and their possible criminal charges.

Much controversy was raised over the allegations of assistant coach Mack Breed directing his players to make Watts "pay for cheating us." In a shocking turn of events, a press release was made in which John Jay principal Robert Harris confirmed Breed had admitted in writing to ordering his players to take action. Unfortunately, before he could face the UIL panel, Breed resigned his position and retracted his statement (through his lawyer, of course). In a purely retaliatory fashion, the UIL has barred Breed from coaching at any other UIL school until he faces the board and takes his punishment on the chin.

Watts has not been silent in this whole situation. His lawyer has come out swinging, demanding civil and criminal action be taken as it was reported that Watts was diagnosed with a concussion and post-concussion symptoms shortly after the hit. Marble Falls PD is still investigating, but no charges have been filed. The Marble Falls coaching staff have also been vocal in their disgust at the incident, and are urging the UIL to take action against not only the two players, but the entire John Jay football program.

There is more to come from this incident, and it will be reported on in due time. For now, we can take away a few key lessons from the John Jay Mustangs:

1. If you are ordered to commit an illegal action (or an overly violent but gray area illegal because it's on a football field), you do not have to do that action.

2. Do not admit to anything unless it is the truth and you are willing to live with the consequences. Retracting that statement will make you seem more guilty.

3. Mullets never were and still are not a good choice of hairstyle. Although this isn't a fashion blog and I am no fashionista, I can at least say this with utmost confidence.

4. This incident is not a reflection of the national football culture. Players are aggressive when they need to be. Violence off the field is rare and is at the same percentage level as normal rates of violence with non-athletes.

In 27 days, a lot has come out about the events surrounding this altercation. There is much to reflect on, but there is still so much more to come. Hopefully the boys can learn from this incident and come out on the other side as well-adjusted citizens, but they will likely never play football again, and this incident will continue to hang over them for the rest of their lives.