In the last 48 hours, we've moved closer to overall resolution and learned even more disturbing details behind an attack on a referee in a Texas high school football game a few weeks ago.
To refresh the details on the attack, on September 4, two San Antonio-Jay High School football players, 17-year-old Michael Moreno and 15-year-old Victor Rojas, blindsided game official Robert Watts in the waning moment of a 15-9 Jay loss to home team Marble Falls High School.
Video of the incident went viral quickly that Saturday morning, and is now up to over 11 million views on YouTube….
In the aftermath of the incident, Moreno and Rojas were immediately removed from the team and the school, entered into an alternative high school while the eventual discipline is being determined, and have begun making the rounds on the interview circuit, with a national television appearance last week on Good Morning America with their attorney, Jesse Hernandez. Among the details revealed in that interview was that both players allege that Watts used racial slurs (African-American and Hispanic) multiple times toward players on Jay's team and that their position coach, Mack Breed, ordered them to harm Watts as a result.
Now, this week, in a report on ESPN's Outside The LInes, it was revealed that Breed did indeed admit to Jay High principal Robert Harris that he ordered his players to hit the referee out of anger over the official's using racist language. In a signed statement, Harris said Breed, the team's secondary coach, admitted he "directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls."
Harris' statement includes these details on Breed's admission that he ordered the two players to carry out the attack:
"I later met with Coach Breed at John Jay High School ... in my office in the presence of Coach Gutierrez," Harris wrote. "Coach Breed told me that he directed the students to make the referee pay for his racial comments and calls. He wanted to take full responsibility for his actions. Mr. Breed at one point during our conversation stated that he should have handled the referee himself."
Outside The LInes received accounts from four Jay players that Watts used the N-word twice during the game, once before and once after the attack on him by Moreno and Rojas. Additionally, he also used language offensive to Hispanics, the players claim. Through his attorney, Alan Goldberger, Watts denies he used racist remarks of any kind.
On Wednesday, in separate hearings with Moreno and Rojas, it was determined that they would serve 75 days in the alternative high school (receiving credit for time already served), which would have both players completing their punishments in time to return to Jay High School by January 15, the beginning of the spring semester. As for playing football, this effectively ends the career of Moreno, a senior, and the season for Rojas, a sophomore.
Rojas' future as a player, along with Breed's as a coach, and the status of Jay's program for he 2015 season will all be determined at a UIL meeting in Round Rock today. The punishment from Texas' sports governing body could go as far as permanent expulsion from sports for Rojas, permanent expulsion from coaching for Breed, and cancellation of the 2015 season for Jay's program.
Moreno and Rojas banishment for the remainder of the season was a necessary step, whether they were encouraged by Breed to attack Watts or not. Any return to the field for either player could have turned into a sticky issue with referees assigned to Jay games for the balance of the season. That said, given the revelation of Breed's request for the players to carry out the attack on Watts, not to mention the still undetermined possibility that Watts indeed used racial slurs toward some players, I don't think it's unreasonable to allow Rojas to apply for reinstatement for his junior season. That would give him an entire offseason to keep his nose clean and for the fervor from this incident to die down.
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As for Breed, he should never be allowed near a scholastic sports sideline, football or otherwise, ever again, and if he is a teacher during the daytime hours, he should be terminated. He will have to find some other way to earn a living, because he clearly can't be trusted helping shape young people and assisting them in sound decision making.
As for canceling Jay's 2015 season, this would be the most ludicrous and ill-advised outcome of all, if the UIL were to make that so. Punishing the entire team for the acts of a rogue assistant and two misguided players doesn't provide a proper deterrent for future incidents. Selfish players and selfish coaches in the future will still be selfish, even if the punishment is the cancellation of the entire season. Ruining collegiate opportunities for other Jay players is making the world a much worse place.
With the national spotlight on this heinous act, though, everything is in play for the UIL. They know the world is watching.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.