Let’s slow down rush to judgment on taxi incident

Mark Richt is right to take a wait-and-see attitude on the taxi cab case. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt is right to take a wait-and-see attitude on the taxi cab case. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

While coverage of the reported taxi cab incident in Athens allegedly involving four UGA football players has been pretty restrained in-state, the smear on Mark Richt’s program already is under way elsewhere.

Just check out this teaser headline early Friday on the Sporting News Today site: “UGA players attack fellow cab passengers.”

So much for due process and sticking to the facts.

And the most salient fact in all of this so far is this: Even assuming the incident actually took place as described in the police report, we don’t know for sure that the offending individuals actually were UGA football players. One of the victims says they were football players but he didn’t know their names, and in the police report, which wasn’t filed until several days after the alleged incident, he doesn’t say how he knew they were football players. Let’s hope he was basing that assumption on more than them just being four big black guys.

Bottom line: Police are still investigating and no charges have been filed.

So far, Richt has handled this exactly right. He said he’s aware of the report and “I’m just waiting to see what’s going to happen from here, really. I don’t want to over- or underreact at this point.”

OK, so what if, after the case is investigated and adjudicated, it turns out that the incident happened just as described, the four individuals in question all were guilty, and all were Georgia football players. What then?

Early fan response in the blogosophere has leaned heavily toward “kick them off the team.” That would be a pretty severe punishment for some slaps in the back of the head and terroristic threats, but the basic thinking seems to be that players represent the university and such behavior just isn’t acceptable. A line has to be drawn somewhere.

However, all such discussion is still jumping the gun. Until we know for sure that the unknown suspects are indeed Georgia Bulldogs, everyone would do well to emulate Richt’s response.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL

As are most fans, I’m pleased to hear that in the post-Jon Fabris era kicker Blair Walsh will be allowed to kick it deep and go for a touchback more often. But as I noted last week, the main problem with the Dogs’ kickoffs the past couple of years wasn’t so much Fabris’ insistence on those high, short directional kicks as it was the lousy coverage that followed.

So it’s good to hear that’s being rethought as well, with Walsh saying, “I know we’re going down there and trying to bust helmets up. We’re literally just trying to beat the guy in front of us and go get the guy. It’s not a lot of schemes. It’s a lot of old-school football involved in our kickoff coverage. … You’re going to see a lot of guys hustle, a lot of fast stuff.”

If the Dogs get off those early blocks, make more of those first hits stick and close those open lanes in the coverage, it won’t matter so much where the ball comes down. …

It was also encouraging to see that Richt made the Dogs roll 200 yards — up the field and back — in an exhausting punishment drill at the end of Thursday’s practice because of too many penalties. That was one of the 2009 team’s biggest problems and should be near the top of the coach’s list of things to fix this season.

223 comments Add your comment

How2fish

April 2nd, 2010
1:27 pm

Greg besides Mett who has been arrested please the rest of the THINKING world would love to know as they have not even I.D’s the 4 men…my god please tell me your not driving!

How2fish

April 2nd, 2010
1:29 pm

$750K the real crime is your dumbazz comment..same old spew day after day..please just TRY and stay with the issues.

Bremen Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
1:29 pm

Oh no, you said the b word. I sure hope it wasn’t football players. What little punk would file a police report on something like that. I bet it wasn’t nothing, the guy was probably mouthing off at the 4 males.

Sam

April 2nd, 2010
1:29 pm

The sad thing is that it would not be shocking if they were football players.

Sanford Drive

April 2nd, 2010
1:33 pm

“That would be a pretty severe punishment for some slaps in the back of the head and terroristic threats…”

Seriously, Bill? You’re an enormous idiot for putting those words into writing. It’s good to know you have such low moral standards.

IF these allegations are true, these kids should ABSOLUTELY be kicked off the team.

DSGB

April 2nd, 2010
1:38 pm

Whether they are football players or not… they are a bunch of POS thugs who should be behind bars… if a white person was harrassing a black couple and said what these guys said to the female the NCAAP would be marching through the streets of Athens as we speak. If they are football players THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON THEY SHOULDN’T BE KICKED OFF THE TEAM. I dont care if they are the our first team starters, they should be gone.

Barry Hollander

April 2nd, 2010
1:40 pm

My hunch is there are things these guys said that suggested they’re on the football team, things that didn’t make the official police report — which is not all that unusual. Whether they were lying about being on the team, who knows?

But Bill has it all wrong when he says being kicked off the team — assuming they’re on the team — is going too far for a smack upside the head and terroristic threats. The language, the nature of the sexual suggestions, and the situation, call for exactly that. Again, this assumes due process and identification of any team members being involved. And I speak as someone who has lived in Athens for almost 20 years and who teaches at UGA, not a visitor for football weekends.

My final hunch — they won’t really be able to identify these guys and, as is often the case of incidents that do, or often do not, make the police blotter, this will quietly disappear.

SEC

April 2nd, 2010
1:41 pm

Not a believable story for one. The cab driver didnt report it and they didnt report it til several days later. And hey if it was UGA football players at least they were taking a taxi instead of driving drunk.

dixie clear

April 2nd, 2010
1:43 pm

jaildogs in top offseason form!

SEC

April 2nd, 2010
1:44 pm

dixie once you call tell me which ones it was then repost

dixie clear

April 2nd, 2010
1:48 pm

we have a bet on the number of offseason arrests for the jaildogs…i’m saying 10+…..

Jay

April 2nd, 2010
1:49 pm

Who is we dixie? You and your redneck stupid mama.

East Atlanta

April 2nd, 2010
1:51 pm

If this story turns out to be true, CMR absolutely has to kick them off the team. This isn’t Nebraska under Tom Osbourne, we can’t tolerate players on the team who would perpetrate violence against women. That being said, it does seem strange that they are being identified as “UGA football players” without any names being mentioned.

Big XII

April 2nd, 2010
1:59 pm

Awwwww…..Like clockwork, UGA thug players make the news for thug activities.

Big XII

April 2nd, 2010
2:01 pm

How did the victim know these 4 were football players? Because they behaved like thugs.

Silencio

April 2nd, 2010
2:14 pm

Urban Meyer has already told the players they will sit for the first half of the G Day game.

Tinaker

April 2nd, 2010
2:16 pm

My money is that our team will be minus 4 guys soon.

HERE THEY COME

April 2nd, 2010
2:16 pm

ALL the tech fans will be judging this as fact right now (BOTH of the tech fans that is)
it may be true or it might not have happened at all we will just have to wait and see

I am the dog

April 2nd, 2010
2:18 pm

maybe she wanted some abuse? ….. any Ga fan should let them have their wives. Take one for the team. go dawgs… just keep playing awesome football. they will all move on sooner or later, they are just kids.

JMart

April 2nd, 2010
2:20 pm

My question is what kind of taxi cab picks up nine people going to different destinations at one time? Does this really happen in Athens? And what kind of van holds nine adults?

egeagle

April 2nd, 2010
2:22 pm

I’m not a tough guy by any means, but if such things happened they would be investigating how I was found slaughtered by those four thugs. I’d have made a stand or at least reported it as soon as possible. I do have to question the “victims” here. Especially if this guy was a former player himself. Maybe UGA players can be put into a lineup like in Porky’s to let the couple ID them. AJC will be happy with all of the attention. it’s many years ago in each case, but I remember that a story about Mike Bobo leaving a club via the back door got twice the coverage of the Techies ‘ puncing out of the coed. They at least did show her picture with her bandages. If true, run the perpetrators out of town on a rail. If the charges are bogus, however, prosecute the accuser as well. It’s a long way from the beach, but I smell fish.

Big XII

April 2nd, 2010
2:25 pm

egeagle –

Some internet tough guy huh……More thug mentality.

Spurrier

April 2nd, 2010
2:32 pm

Can’t afford to have anybody suspended for a couple of games, we are going to come after the frosh QB with everything we have all day. Look out for a trick play or two on offense.

Realistic Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
2:39 pm

Let’s not get too crazy here! The punishment should depend on two things: First, who were the players? I mean starters are one thing, scout teamers are another. Second, was this girl hot? If not, then surely this isn’t something that a couple of stadium runs can’t fix!

Mitch Cumstein

April 2nd, 2010
2:40 pm

If it were the other way around…white guys harrassing blacks, oh the firestorm!!

The liberal media would be all over the tea baggers and the old south would have risen again!

Georgia Fan

April 2nd, 2010
2:41 pm

JMart — Athens really isn’t that big of a place. Cabs squeeze in as many riders as possible and make the stops before heading back downtown to do it all over again. You’ve really never heard of a van holding 9 people?

Stinger

April 2nd, 2010
2:42 pm

kick them off the team NOW !!

Stinger

April 2nd, 2010
2:44 pm

I’m betting nothing happens. Unless a murder is committed, I don’t see your coaching staff taking any action.

Dawg 39

April 2nd, 2010
2:45 pm

Off the topic.. The athletic dept. makes money. The football program pays the costs of several of the other athletic programs. It does not have anything at all to do with taxpayer money or student tuitions.
U. Profs are paid by the University. Coaches are paid by the Athletic Dept. As long as the programs are profitable, they can pay coaches any amount they deem is justifiable. Compared to other schools salary scales, the coaches at UGA are not overpaid & they earn what they are worth (Capitalism).

penalties r us

April 2nd, 2010
2:46 pm

After the Florida game a few years ago, when Richt encouraged his players to celebrate intentionally, to get a penalty, Richt lost a ton of respect form the refs.

From that game, UGA’s penalty calls increased by 50% the next season and have never slowed down to “pre-florida celebration” levels.

The refs have made their point, time to return to civility and fairness again. Richt didn’t suddenly become “undisciplined” after the Florida game, the refs look dumb to throw that many flags in each game against Georgia, and as Richt proved, if they keep doing it, he’ll get them fired, just like the crew who called the game against Georgia-LSU, all lost their income.

KJ

April 2nd, 2010
2:48 pm

Big XII -

Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit. You should probably put the keyboard down before you hurt yourself.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

April 2nd, 2010
2:49 pm

Slap on the head and terroristic threats does not warrant dismissal from the program? Bill lay of the Kool-Aid man. If these are football players and this is true then yes, immediate dismissal. In todays society anyone who make such comments that is mentioned in the police report (gangbangs and asking his wife about being w/ black men) has no place on the team. I am not going to rush to any judgement, but your comment is completly off base. Accountability is in order if this is true.

Urban Meyer

April 2nd, 2010
2:49 pm

I say make them run an extra lap at practice. Boys will be boys, you know.

speaking of arrests.....seen Gator Nation?

April 2nd, 2010
2:54 pm

We have a lot of arrests to go to catch the kingpin of coaching arrest, URBAN MEYER, who has had 25 PLAYERS ARRESTED since URBAN MEYER took over in 2005:

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/sports_college_uf/2009/06/janoris-jenkinscharge-misdemeanor-affray-and-resisting-arrest-without-violence-for-his-role-in-a-may-30-fight-outside-a-down.html

Oh Billy Boy...

April 2nd, 2010
2:55 pm

UGA players are just thugs. That’s all that Mark Richt knows.

Jan Kemp

April 2nd, 2010
3:01 pm

Same Sh**, different day!

dawgstephen

April 2nd, 2010
3:02 pm

A matter such as this should NOT EVEN BE OPEN TO THIS STUPID POST AS YOU WANT TO FORUM!!! NOTHING has been proved yet, and to just let people post as they want to shows how USELESS the AJC really is…

Let the facts come out and then POST….what a rag!!!

yeah whatever!

April 2nd, 2010
3:04 pm

Look I could’nt care less. They are football players, not saints or role models.

dawgstephen

April 2nd, 2010
3:05 pm

By the way Bill, very good job of your post, very well written. IF players were involved, then I agree with you completely. Well said.

http://dawgstephen.blogspot.com/

bruce mac

April 2nd, 2010
3:05 pm

If all of you UGA haters weren’t so stupid you would realize this is a he said, she said nothing event. No one was injured or harmed in any way. As usual much ado about nothing. Soon to come UGA Thug rides motor scooter wrong way on one way street, sentenced to Levenworth for life?

atlvol55

April 2nd, 2010
3:05 pm

Bill,

Seems as if you and several of the UGA fans have selective memory. You claim we should give them due process and check on the facts (which I agee with). However, when the non story about Kiffin and these two girls who supposedly went to SC came out…everyone made this huge deal and acted like TN was going to get the death penalty. Of course, it was much ado about nothing and the NCAA basically found no wrong doing…

Didn’t see you sticking up for TN or Fl before facts came out…I guess it only applies to the “beloved” Bulldog players….nice journalism

dawgstephen

April 2nd, 2010
3:06 pm

I have a question, what if players were NOT involved? Then I want to hear all you come back and post your apologies. If they were there and did this, then they should pay, but if not, I wanna hear some crow eatin. Im reserviung judgement till we know for sure.

http://dawgstephen.blogspot.com/

Top Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
3:07 pm

IF this is true, it will be time to send a message to the entire team that terroristic threats will not be tolerated at all and any such actions will result in being kicked off the team, period! I know CMR is a fine Christian man, but even Christians have to deal out punishment they don’t like.

Dawg Trainer

April 2nd, 2010
3:08 pm

Obviously, it was me. Yep, I was in downtown Athens last Saturday night…kinda sorta doing a unannounced inspection of Sanford and my hedges. I smacked the kid around because my hedges were cut 3/8 of an inch off my specs. After the last pimpslap, he saw 4 of me! Call the Hilton Garden Inn if ya need my registration information.

TypicalPackMentality

April 2nd, 2010
3:10 pm

I really hope those weren’t UGA players, but if so, I hope they enjoy playing JC ball. This type of racism is unacceptable. Some guys sure are tough when they outnumber & outsize their victims.

Dawg Trainer

April 2nd, 2010
3:11 pm

As for his lady, well, a gentleman doesn’t tell…

Tech Master

April 2nd, 2010
3:11 pm

More uga thugs from the university of football, beating up people in a taxi–showing how “tough” they are in Athens baby!!! Don’t mess with those dawg players–they’ll mess you up! Just keep them eligible somehow mark—that’s all that matters in athens.

yeah whatever!

April 2nd, 2010
3:16 pm

no one has been charged with terrorist threats and they said it was 4 big black guys……..hey wait I saw an alien for Mars! I dont know his name and I cant identify him except he was green and little. But maybe Bill King will make a blog about it.

Big XII

April 2nd, 2010
3:17 pm

Post apologies? Stop drinking the kool aid. UGA football = group of thugs. Why do you think Stafford left early? He knew Detroit would draft him, and he wanted to be in the biggest thug city. DUH!

Big XII

April 2nd, 2010
3:36 pm

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