Two defensive backs from John Jay High School's football team are suspended — and could face criminal charges — after they teamed up to blindside a game official at the end of a football game in central Texas this weekend.
The two players were suspended from both the school and the football team after they converged on a back judge near the end of Friday night's game, in an act that was evidently inspired by feelings that the official had made a bad call.
The local police department says it's investigating; their school says it's treating the dual hits "as an assault on a school official," with possible consequences that include expulsion.
In their defense, the two students told school officials that they had been feeling frustrated by the officials' calls — and that a game official's use of racial slurs and a coach's suggestion of payback also played a role.
Update at 2:25 p.m. ET: Players Allege Goading By Coach And Racial Epithets By Official
Providing more details about Friday night's game, Northside Independent School District Superintendent Brian Woods says, "the incident is shameful and deeply revolting."
Woods and the district's athletic director, Stan Laing, addressed the media Tuesday afternoon, providing new details — including two allegations:
- The John Jay players' claim that assistant coach Mack Breed, 29, told them "that guy needs to pay for cheating us" or a similar statement.
- The players say an official had used racial epithets on the field before the back judge was hit.
Breed, who coaches the secondary, is currently on paid administrative leave. The players who hit the official face the possibility of being expelled, among other disciplinary measures.
"We're obligated to use this as a teachable moment," Laing said. And he said that the lesson here might be, "Two wrongs don't make a right."
The NISD officials said they're filing a complaint with the officials' association over the alleged use of racial slurs.
Woods and Laing expressed confidence that the incident doesn't reflect the attitude of head coach Gary Gutierrez; Woods later added that there are no plans to cancel the team's season.
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Nearly 7 million people have viewed video of the incident, which shows one player sprinting toward and knocking the back judge to the ground — followed closely by the other player, who leveled his helmet as he struck the fallen man.
The incident took place during a game at Marble Falls High School, northwest of Austin; the players under scrutiny are from John Jay High, in San Antonio's large Northside Independent School District.
The Marble Falls Police Department says it is conducting an investigation that includes review of several video recordings of the incident. The agency adds, "No arrests have been made at this time. An update will be released within the week."
"It is not the good sportsmanlike behavior that we teach students," the chief spokesman for Northside ISD, Pascual Gonzalez, tells local TV news KSAT. He added, "Northside ISD will not tolerate this kind of behavior."
Wayne Elliott, the secretary of the Austin Football Officials Association, tells the AP, "The first thing we want is that those two kids never play football again."
Elliott did not release the referee's name.