Who once walked and ran and played;
And then he met Jack,
An “Assassin” named Jack,
And from that moment on Stingley was permanently stung.
I’m getting old, or at least older, so maybe that’s where this is coming from, but three things from last week are sticking with me, including a pair from the Browns’ loss against Pittsburgh and then heading down to Cincinnati for the Xavier-Cincinnati basketball brawl.
First, why couldn’t – no, make that shouldn’t – Pittsburgh’s James Harrison be suspended for a minimum of four games or the remainder of the season for yet another filthy foul as a result of his helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns’ quarterback Colt McCoy? Why is it the NFL feels that Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) can harm a body and routinely hand down four-game suspensions for offending players, but the league talks a great game and turns a nearly blind eye to the harm done by the concussions incurred by its players?
Question: Why is stomping on a downed player’s arm worthy of an immediate ejection from a game, but a direct helmet-to-helmet hit by Harrison – one measured by clear intent – is worthy of only a 15-yard penalty? The Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh was not only ejected for his stomp, but then suspended for two games. It’s lubricious after Harrison’s helmet-to-helmet hit that he was allowed to remain in the game and his team flagged for a laughable infraction.
From the Steelers’ standpoint, there was a great return on the play. They suffered only 15 yards and kept one of their star defenders, while the Browns were left with their starting quarterback sprawled out on the ground, fading in and out of consciousness and his brain clearly addled by a concussion. His night was done, and all it cost Pittsburgh was 15 yards.
And speaking of concussions: Could the Browns get an adult on the sideline? If anyone believes that McCoy didn’t begin to feel the impact of the hit until after the game, they are probably already sitting in a corner, gently rocking and watching the drool pool beneath them.
This is what the Browns want us to believe: McCoy was totally normal. That he could recite the months of the year backwards without fail. That he knew what day it was, what month it was, who he was playing, where he was playing.
All that and a whole lot more goes into the concussion test that is given to high school athletes in the state of Ohio, and that is a test that takes a whole lot longer than 3:50, which is all that McCoy was out of the game, according to a report by the Associated Press. Oh – and that was after he had been knocked out, or virtually so, which is an automatic shutdown in high school.
I have no problem telling Browns’ coach Pat Shurmur he put football before a player’s safety. I don’t believe him for one second that McCoy felt fine until after the game and that’s when the symptoms of the concussion set in. Someone is lying. In a brilliant Clinton-like defense, Shurmur dodged and refused to give direct answers as to whether McCoy was tested for a concussion – one news report said he wasn’t tested until Friday morning - and the Browns have refused to allow medical personnel to speak on the issue, which leads me to believe someone has something to hide.
Shurmur was so hell-bent on getting McCoy back into the game he ignored common sense, good sense or just reality. And my question for Shurmur would be this, after McCoy was picked off to end the Browns’ threat: How’d it work out for ya, buddy?
Which brings me to point three and the end of Xavier-Cincinnati game Dec. 11. I would wager that Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates would never have thrown his sucker punch if he would have known that Cincy police would have fitted him with a beautiful set of silver bracelets and arrested him for assault immediately after he threw his punch Sunday.
Gates teared up, alligator or otherwise, during a Dec. 12 press conference. He took exception to people on social media sites denouncing him as a “thug” and a “gangster,” although those were disgraceful labels Tu Holloway proudly wore – “We got a whole bunch of gangstas in the locker room,” he said of the Xavier mob - and I’m quite positive the Cincinnati locker room would proudly echo the same sentiment even today.
“I’m just not that kind of person,” Gates claimed, although his actions certainly spoke louder than words, especially after he bloodied Xavier’s Kenny Frease with a cheap right hand.
His words don’t pass the smell test. Gates had EVERY opportunity to walk away from the fight. He had EVERY opportunity to be a man and a peacemaker. But given the choice between being a man or a thug, he chose the thug path and threw a sucker punch to keep the fight going. However, while Gates was the most noteworthy offender, there were others from both schools that had the same choice and opted for the gutter.
There were two intelligent comments to come out of this. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin offered the first: “This isn’t rocket science. If we’re not going to take the floor against each other in an appropriate manner, there’s no point taking the floor.”
He’s exactly right, but I would also suggest if he couldn’t control his team – and the same goes for Xavier’s Chris Mack - there are also other lines of work they can find.
The second came from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters, although he is apparently one Republican who waffles in the face of common sense. Deters, a UC and UC law school graduate – two facts that certainly hint that he won’t be filing charges - at least said his office was going to review film of the fight to determine if assault charges would be appropriate.
Seriously? There is little question charges are appropriate. The question is if Deters has the courage to follow through and charge those players participating in the brawl, whose violent actions have nothing to do with the game of basketball.
Violence has continually increased in sports, be it youth, high school, college or professional sports. Someone has to take the first step to end this senseless stupidity, and Deters can do exactly that by charging and asking for jail time for those who instigated and willingly chose to fight.
That said, Xavier and Cincinnati helped build the sense of hate and trash-talking in the series between the schools just 10 minutes apart, so neither administration should be surprised by Sunday’s events. Given the plague of gun violence on the streets of Cincinnati and across our nation, it amazes me that someone thought the way to hype the series was to describe it as a “shootout.”
The two schools and media helped set the tone for Sunday and the players took it and ran. No one should be completely surprised it turned out as it did. The question is: Do the schools have the common sense to work to avoid a repeat of Sunday? Don’t pull the two teams together for a community works project as was suggested and then play up the rivalry next season in violent terms.
That’s just common sense. We’ll see if they have any.
Published: December 14, 2011