High-school football players say coach ordered hits on referee

posted at 10:01 am on September 18, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

Two weeks ago, two Texas high-school football players decked a game official in a contest that had already seen one ejection, launching a viral video of the attack and a national controversy. At the time, plenty of people wondered whether the coaching staff had been involved in retaliation over the earlier ejection and other calls, while the players claimed that they attacked the official over supposed racial rslurs he had made (which the official strenuously denies). Today, the two players tell ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that their coach ordered the Code Red:

Video of the incident drew national attention after the footage showed the boys going out of their way to collide with referee Robert Watts, whose back was to the players at the time. The teens, playing for John Jay High School in the San Antonio area, say they were following orders from an assistant coach, Mack Breed.

“You put your trust into this grown-up, this guardian, your coach, who’s been there for me. … I trust him. I did what I was told,” Moreno said.

The coach pulled Moreno and another player aside and told them, “You need to hit the ref. He needs to pay the price,” Moreno said.

Moreno said he then relayed the message to Rojas. The other player didn’t follow through with the plan to target referee Robert Watts, but Moreno and Rojas did — allegedly because the referee had missed calls and used racial slurs during the game, the players said.

Watts, through his attorney, has denied the racial slur accusation to ABC News.

The two are still claiming that Watts used racial slurs, and one of the players said, “I wouldn’t lie about that.” Well, if you can’t take the word of a couple of guys who would take a cheap shot on a defenseless person from behind and while he’s down on the ground, who can you trust? Even if Watts did use that kind of language — and he’s denying it consistently, with his attorney accusing the two players and the school of blaming the victim — that in no way justifies their attack on the referee, especially from behind and while on the ground. That’s battery, and given the use of the helmets, perhaps aggravated battery, whether it happens on a football field or not.

That puts Breed in a tough place, too. If he ordered the hit on the referee, then we have a conspiracy to commit battery, and there’s not much doubt how that will look to a Texas jury. Breed, who has been on leave since the game, will now have to call the two players liars as well in order to avoid potential criminal charges. The attorney for the players will want to cut a deal to keep his clients out of jail, and that may mean Breed will take most of the fall on this attack, if charged and eventually convicted.

So what should happen to the players? Their attorney says they’ve suffered enough by having a three-day suspension, a week of alternative school, and being kicked off the football team. I suspect that the school will have a much different take on that question.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Like, you know, you know, like, like, you know…

Galtian on September 18, 2015 at 1:03 PM

The “following orders” defense is not gonna work. They are better off using the Chewbacca defense.

The Notorious G.O.P on September 18, 2015 at 1:07 PM

allegedly because the referee had missed calls and used racial slurs during the game, the players said.

Ah yes, The go to excuse.

The Notorious G.O.P on September 18, 2015 at 1:09 PM

Weren’t there a few people on the site commenting that the players were likely black (before we saw them)?

Hmm…

Indefatigable on September 18, 2015 at 1:12 PM

I suppose the coach told him to get that haircut too?
I didn’t watch the video, but if the coach told them to do it, did they at least apologize to the ref for the actions they committed?
Or are they trying to get out of this mess by blaming everyone but themselves?
When they look back on their lives, I think that haircut is going to be the biggest regret.

xdwall on September 18, 2015 at 1:17 PM

Weren’t there a few people on the site commenting that the players were likely black (before we saw them)?

If they were white, and especially if the referee were black, this would be a National Tragedy complete with finger wagging from Obama.

Who would have, of course, invited the referee to the White House.

Moesart on September 18, 2015 at 1:34 PM

Get the kids for battery and the coach for conspiracy.

Unless of course they use the ultimate defense:

“What difference, at this point, does it make?”

jnelchef on September 18, 2015 at 1:37 PM

Jail sentences all around.

Mason on September 18, 2015 at 1:42 PM

“You put your trust into this grown-up, this guardian, your coach, who’s been there for me. … I trust him. I did what I was told,” Moreno said.

Nothing in his upbringing suggested to him that, if true, this instruction from the coach was not only unsportsmanlike, but wrong? If his coach told him to step off a cliff, would he have done that? The coach is a trusted grown-up, after all. Will coach be there for him when he’s in front of the judge?

One of his team mates apparently has a moral compass.

cheeflo on September 18, 2015 at 2:02 PM

The more hair up top, the more cushion when going in for those punishing head-spearing tackles.

otlset on September 18, 2015 at 2:13 PM

Who ordered those “haircuts”?

corona79 on September 18, 2015 at 10:05 AM

And the ref had a looooooong ponytail.

Ward Cleaver on September 18, 2015 at 2:15 PM

The left kid clearly is sporting the new haircut that is the rage due to MR. X from the movie “Shaun the Sheep”.

Link here:

KirknBurker on September 18, 2015 at 2:51 PM

Sorry but I can’t seem to get the link to work.

But you get the idea.

KirknBurker on September 18, 2015 at 2:52 PM

So which is it, ‘The coach made me do it’? Or ‘The ref used racial slurs’?

TexasRedbud on September 18, 2015 at 3:29 PM

“You put your trust into this grown-up, this guardian, your coach, who’s been there for me. … I trust him. I did what I was told,” Moreno said.

Yeah, that sounds like something a 17 would say…

if he has a lawyer

landshark on September 18, 2015 at 3:38 PM

If he ordered the hit on the referee, then we have a conspiracy to commit battery, and there’s not much doubt how that will look to a Texas jury.

The two kids conspired to do it. It is already a conspiracy to commit battery.

Charge them.

cptacek on September 18, 2015 at 3:45 PM

High-school football players say coach ordered hits on referee

“Hey, there, referee… that shirt looks mighty… stripey…”

The Schaef on September 18, 2015 at 4:32 PM

Hard to believe school officials are dancing around with this. And why would the referee need an attorney? They should already have been permanently banned from sports and suspended until they apologize to the referee.

bluesdoc70 on September 18, 2015 at 6:51 PM

one of the players said, “I wouldn’t lie about that.”

Nobody ever lies about shite like that. Ever.

CWforFreedom on September 18, 2015 at 7:00 PM

They look like extras from Idiocracy.

FrankT on September 18, 2015 at 7:01 PM

This is just outrageous. I am from San Antonio, and very familiar with this school district (we are in it). These kids were coached to say these things. The district is hoping that the publicity will die down and that the students can go back to their thug life at John Jay. The Texas UIL has punted on this issue. Nevermind that the poor referee has had his character assassinated multiple times. Welcome to the new Texas high school football folks.

catlady on September 18, 2015 at 8:32 PM

bluesdo70 – The referee needs an attorney for exactly this reason, that these two punks are saying he made “racist” statements. A man who has not had any complaints against him for years, gets his reputation trashed for getting hit by two punks.

catlady on September 18, 2015 at 8:33 PM

Mike & Mike (ESPN) are now claiming that the students said the referee used the N-word to refer to them, which seems like trying to halfway justify their actions. How did this accusation come to light, since these students are both Hispanic, not black? I am very disappointed in M&M (a sports news show we watch daily) for giving this so much air time (and Steven A. Smith’s supposed “fairness” is a fake cover for “halfway” taking the side of these hoodlums). ESPN is another TV channel dedicated to promoting the leftism (I refuse to call it liberalism) of its management, editors, sportscasters, and hangers-on.

RebeccaH on September 18, 2015 at 9:13 PM

Those kids still have a shot at a decent career.

At Great Clips.

BigAlSouth on September 18, 2015 at 9:14 PM

The “following orders” defense is not gonna work. They are better off using the Chewbacca defense.

The Notorious G.O.P on September 18, 2015 at 1:07 PM

“My husband is the president?” I don’t see that one working for them.

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 18, 2015 at 11:22 PM

Boy, our education system sure is instilling great values in our youngsters nowadays, huh?

kimoloka on September 18, 2015 at 11:47 PM

Swipe the knee.

ocbrat on September 19, 2015 at 12:23 AM

You’re damn right I did!

Jaibones on September 19, 2015 at 2:28 AM

The assistant coach is black (and played football at Missouri). The player that got tossed just before the hit on the ref is a hot prospect player who is also black (older brother plays at Tx A&M). This is a business to these folks and getting high school players placed for a pro career is the goal. Getting tossed from games for punching out fellow players is not a sought out trait for college prospects especially if it cuts their playing time and stats and indicates behavioral problems. The black player’s chums started the Twitter game of calling “racial slurs” on the ref. The geniuses here who did the hit followed suit with their clique when they realized just how much trouble they were in. Then the idiots at the school district followed suit. Don’t think that the state athletic officials investigating don’t know what is going on. All of it was done for the benefit of the “hot prospect” and these yo-yo’s don’t want to be punished while assistant coach and hot prospect go scot-free. No one from this school involved should be allowed anywhere near organized school sports. Coaches, administrators, or students.

Mormaer on September 19, 2015 at 8:47 AM

I don’t care what the coach told these kids to do, they’re responsible for their own behavior. All they’re doing is blaming their coach and blaming the ref. That doesn’t mean the coach isn’t responsible for criminal conspiracy but these kids have their own moral culpability for what they did, independent of what anyone may have told them to do.

LeoMcNeil on September 18, 2015 at 10:06 AM

You are assuming that these rotten, cheap-shot, punks are telling the truth about their coach having told them to go after the ref. I can’t believe a word that comes out of their mouths.

soghornetgunner on September 19, 2015 at 11:58 AM

“Sure I executed that guy in his bed. But I’m not the guy you want, I was under orders from my boss, I just did what I was told. I trust him, you know?”

So there’s a defense that has worked . . . never. It didn’t work at Nuremberg, it doesn’t work in criminal court, and it won’t work here. Anybody who cheapshots a defenseless person is a thug and a criminal, no matter what they believe about motivation or orders.

The coach needs to pay right beside them if he did indeed order the hit, but once the deed is done you can’t use his position to mitigate your culpability for performing the deed.

As for the “motive”, this case should be used to conduct a thorough examination of the destructive societal shift to dangerous levels of PC. It is 100% immaterial whether the referee said anything unpleasant. It is also 100% immaterial whether he his a terrible referee. So your school takes video of the game to the area prep sports athletic board, or whatever governing body is in place, show how bad a ref he is, and get him removed. If, that is, he is actually a bad ref. Namecalling isn’t the best form of behavior for a high school sports official. Neither is it the worst. But if the parents, teachers, and coaches cannot provide a “sticks and stones” example for the kids to follow, it’s time to shut it all down.

Freelancer on September 19, 2015 at 1:43 PM

How the hell do you get [l–d] by the cheerleaders with hair like that?

ConstantineXI on September 18, 2015 at 10:09 AM

I thought we weren’t supposed to be encouraging that.

bmmg39 on September 21, 2015 at 11:27 AM

Comment pages: 1 2