Did an assistant football coach order the Code Red on high school football referee, Robert Watts? And if coach Mack Breed did directly tell his players to lay the wood to the ref, how much are the players still to blame?
We could use Lt. Dan Kaffee to get to the bottom of this messy Texas high school football situation right about now.
What we do know for sure is that Victor Rojas and Michael Moreno whacked the ref from behind during the start of a play. The kids didn’t even try to make it look like an accident. It was plain as day. They meant to hurt the guy. This was not the brightest move by the young men, one an honor student and the other a former student of the year. They could have at least waited for a pile up near the ref to send a message in a sneakier manner.
In case you’re wondering, this is not the first time a referee has been ambushed by athletes. It may be the most public instance, but it has happened before. A quick online search will show results for refs hit during boxing matches, basketball games, and even seemingly innocent volleyball matches.
I have no idea why anyone would want to be a referee. It’s a thankless job, everyone hates you eventually, and the only way to know you’re doing a good job is if no one notices you at all. Worst job ever, and on the youth sports level, the pay sucks to boot.
This story is so murky because of all the unknowns. The players allege racial slurs by Watts the referee. That’s hard to prove since that is a good go-to move when you have physically assaulted someone. A racist blast would excuse the behavior of these young men in the eyes of a good percentage of the public. In a court of law though it still does not give a person the right to physically attack another.
As for the assistant coach that ordered the Code Red on the ref, he later recanted his story after initially taking responsibility for what happened. He never said he told the boys directly to hit the referee, but did admit his words led to the incident that went viral online. In his second statement coach Mack Breed stated he was trying to keep his players from being suspended from school and that he did not instruct them to whack Watts.
Rojas and Moreno say their coach told them to go after Watts, plain and simple.
It’s hard to tell who to believe. The players have lawyered up and are in self preservation mode. They are also among a generation of coddled youths that look to blame others for their own problems. Their generation has been given participation trophies since they were five years old and have never been disciplined by teachers who fear parents going off over their little angels getting in trouble at school. Personal responsibility is not the strong suit of today’s young people.
As for coach Breed, he is also trying to save his own neck. He’s been suspended and would have a hard time finding a another gig after this incident. Whether he directly or indirectly told the boys to go after the referee, he should shoulder much of the blame. We are all responsible for our own actions, but these youngsters are much easier to convince than an adult.
If coach Breed told me, as a grown man, to attack a referee from behind, I would question his sanity and think about the consequences. If I were 16 years old, caught up in the emotion of a violent game like football, then I would give my 16 year old self only a 20% chance of not following the Code Red.
This incident is just a microcosm of what happens in the background of many high school football games. What do you think goes on under piles of teenage boys scrambling for a fumble? Lots of gouging, scratching, nut punching, mama cursing, rib shots, ankle twists, and that’s just between teams that respect each other!
I have personally seen the nasty behavior of high school football players and refs. I know of a Christian school that loved to used racist blasts after tacking my local high school’s best running back. Another fine private institution close to the University of Georgia had a few players tell the opposing team’s cheerleaders how ugly they were after the game. I know of one player in middle school years ago that said he was going to hurt a ref during the game , and he actually ran into the ref on the sideline. The zebra left the game with a broken leg.
Football is not like the chess club or debate team. Football is violent. Players are jacked up with adrenaline. Coaches want to protect their players. And there are some a-hole referees. Some even racist.
The nation was shocked at this violent act directed toward an official. It’s shocking to me it doesn’t happen more often. This situation is just a by-product of a violent game called football. You can’t cheer a fullback smacking a linebacker full speed, then be shocked when after the play nastiness ensues. The action sometimes bubbles over after the whistle.
What happened in Texas happens every Friday night in smaller ways. Both black and white kids use racist comments on each other. Boys talk junk to each other. They do illegal things under a pileup that they would never do in another environment. Refs get cursed out. Refs made biased calls, stupid calls, and make-up calls. Coaches get in the faces of officials. Fans scream at the refs. The female fans (moms) are really vicious.
All that ugliness sometimes crosses over in to illegal activities like assault. That’s what happened when Victor Rojas and Michael Moreno decided to go through with the Code Red.
The coaches’ job is to get kids amped to the max to be ready to play a football game. It’s not hard to push them just over the edge.
Just remember that next time you’re enjoying the beauty of football. You are just a play away from the ugly underbelly of the game rearing its head.