If I stomp on your head, don’t you think that would be a criminal offense? What if I then stomped on your face a second time? Would it be punishable by law? Especially if in doing so it required 30 stitches to patch you back up? Apparently the sports community thinks that this action simply warrants a 5 week pay deduction, but no more.
Of course I am talking about the events in this last Sunday’s Cowboys v. Titans game where Tennessee Titan Albert Haynesworth stepped on the head and face of Dallas Cowboy Andre Gurode. When I first saw the video clip I thought that it was not that horrific. After seeing the events in real time, it is obvious that what he did was intentional. The video is not that clear, but according to one report I read, with Gurode on the ground, Haynesworth reaches down and jerks Gurode’s helmet off before kicking him twice. It is intentional, unexcuseable and worthy of jail time.
If this man were in any other job he would be immediately fired for his action towards another employee. The NFL should take no lesser action. Furthermore, he would be charged with assault and battery. Yes, I realize that football is a contact sport. But there are rules in the game for the purpose of protecting players from actions like this. There are also laws in the United States that protect the general population from these types of attacks.
Haynesworth said of his actions: “What I did out there was disgusting. It doesn’t matter what the league does to me. The way I feel right now, you just can’t describe it.” He seems contrite enough. Someone might say that he understands that what he did was wrong and he will probably not do it again. Well, what they need to understand is that Haynesworth should have thought of his actions before he executed them. A person can repent and be sorry for their actions, but there are still consequences. The consequences in this case should more to the tune of loss of job and jail time. This is no less than a criminal offense.
This is not his first offense either. According to reports he left a practice session in college to get a pole with which to beat up another player. He was stopped by the coach when he returned to the practice session with his weapon. He has also kicked former teammate Justin Hartwig in the chest during training camp. Doesn’t this bring to mind the events of the World Cup where Zidane headbutted an opponent? In both cases these men should not be allowed to continue to play. At least for Zidane it was a first incident. This is far from the first offense for Haynesworth.
And in the most bizarre of stupidity there is an article posted at DallasCowboys.com that says the law should stay out of this affair. Columnest Mickey Spagnola says:
But to me, this is almost like a separation of church and state. The church takes care of itself and the state takes care of itself.
The NFL should take care of itself and the state should take care of itself, and those lines should never be blurred. Because once you do, where do you stop?
The absolute misunderstanding of Jefferson’s idea of separation of church and state take an even more horrible stand in that statement. According to Mr. Spagnola, I could beat up anyone in my church, for whatever reason, and the laws of the land have no jurisdiction. Apparently that goes as far as kicking someone in the head and face, twice, with metal cleats. What kind of idiocy is that?
So, on Friday night when your son is playing football and wants to play like the pros, and decides he just might want to kick someone in the face twice because that is what the pro players are allowed to do, will you accept that? What if your son is the one receiving the cleats to the eye?
The NFL should do the right thing and hand this man his pink slip. Then turn him over to the police to be put in jail. Who cares if Gurode wants to press charges or not, the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys and the Tennessee Titans have a responsibility to do the right thing morally. The law cannot make anyone press charges in this case. Andre Gurode may not know what legal options he has available to him. But this thing is much bigger than one man. This sets a precedence for years to come.
Keep the game a game. I am all for football. But it needs to be played in a manner in which the players can be reasonably assured that they are not going to be brutally kicked in the face just because someone does not like the play. There are plenty of other inherent risks with the game, personal violent attacks should not be one of them.