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

jasont13

April 2nd, 2010
3:39 pm

I think this is absolutely bogus. First, if anyone laid hands on my wife I would do whatever I could to make sure they left with some kind of mark on their face or body. Why did this person not contact the authorities that night immediately after it happened? Second, its funny how the cab driver didn’t file a police report that night. Third, he says its four football players, hmmm how does he know?

how2fish

April 2nd, 2010
3:40 pm

Stinger kick WHO off the team you moron there aren’t even any names yet let alone if they DID anything wrong or not ?? Big XII puck you and the horse you rode in on in the middle of main street at high noon in Athens …you trolling POS! Hell the Bugs have more balls than the entire Big XII combined.

Delusional Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
3:45 pm

Come on everybody, get real. We all know those guys were a Urban Meyer plant putting those guys in that taxi under the disguise of being UGA players. And it was probably Saban’s idea in the first place. Don’t worry, Richt will have it all figured out in about 3 weeks when he suspends them for a game. He’s probably consulting Berger Boy as we speak. And this is so much ado about nothing. I know that if that was MY girlfriend or wife they had slapped around and asked to join in group sex, I would have just thought it all to be a hoot!

Halsey

April 2nd, 2010
3:45 pm

I have no idea if this is true, but if it is, anyone who hits and threatens a couple should be booted straight out of school. I don’t care who they are. It takes a real dirtbag to threaten and hit a woman.

Paddy

April 2nd, 2010
3:55 pm

Urban Meyer was the cab driver. Why has nobody mentioned that little tid bit. He has been doing weekend shifts in Athens as part of his rehab. Explain that one!!!!

meh

April 2nd, 2010
4:02 pm

seems to me if the vivtim knew they were football players they would be players who are known. In which case, he would know their names. Since he doesn’t know their names, I’m inclined to think they were just some big black dudes and that this guy’s an idiot.

Nilo Silvan

April 2nd, 2010
4:03 pm

Agree with most of the responses, and actually can’t believe that Bill King thinks kicking players off the team for this type of behavior would be too harsh. IF this story is true, and they are UGA fball players, and if all of them had a part in this, they should all be kicked off the team immediately. I am real disappointed in Bill King’s comment though. So, you want guys on the team that slap/punch random strangers, threaten to kill them (If you want to live, turn around), and degrade and harass females? Nice morals there Bill.

Jason

April 2nd, 2010
4:07 pm

Ummm… I’m thinking that it if they are players or not, the victim would press charges for assualt, and then the perpetrators would be in jail for a good bit of time. If they happened to be football players this would mean that they are too busy being in jail to play football regardless of whether the coach wants them to or not.

dixie clear

April 2nd, 2010
4:10 pm

st. richt needs to hold more bible studies!

hey yo!

April 2nd, 2010
4:10 pm

I don’t why people are calling UGA players thugs. They’ve had run ins with the law but there hasn’t been any violent crimes. You’ve got underage drinking, driving without a license, i think there was another issue with an expired license. they might be a little stupid but they’re not thugs.

jasont13

April 2nd, 2010
4:12 pm

If this really happened I think it wouldn’t be tough for the supposed accuser would have been able to identify the attackers via the internet. Also why didn’t the can driver contact the police or even the company he is driving for? Something just doesn’t add up.

jasont13

April 2nd, 2010
4:15 pm

Hey Nilo, I believe Bill King thinks just like the majority of everyone else who is not biased to UGA, and that this story is not true. Also hey yo! I totally agree with you, my cousin who was a UGA football player a few years ago was arrestted for no having proof of insurance in his car. It showed up that the car was insured via the officers computer when he checked the registration but due to GA Law you also need to have the insurance card in the car. Therefore my cousin was arrested and had the citations dismissed when he went to court. However it was still embarrasing to him. What gives?

jerry

April 2nd, 2010
4:20 pm

Mr. King, do you actually believe what you wrote or are you just doing a little Dawg fan boot licking?

Nilo Silvan

April 2nd, 2010
4:24 pm

jasont13, I also doubt a lot of this story….but he basically said even if it were true, that kicking them off the team is too severe a punishment. If it is true, kicking them off the team is definitely NOT too severe. Do you agree on that?

Just dumb Bill

April 2nd, 2010
4:25 pm

should’ve gotten a copy of the police report first before writing this. I’ve seen a copy out there, talking about “gang banging your wife” to the husband. How would you react Bill? but of course it’s just terrorist threats and a couple of slaps. Really?

Big XII

April 2nd, 2010
4:25 pm

It really did happen. I don’t need a police report to tell me UGA players are criminals.

misterwax

April 2nd, 2010
4:27 pm

if any one is convicted of making terroristic thrats in Georgia it is a felony…simple assualt is a misdemeanor and punishable in prison for up to 12 months…felonies longer than that….kicking them off the team is the least of their worries….And whoever thinks, it is not serious, is a fool…like the guy who wrote the column….Bill King?

Mike Adams

April 2nd, 2010
4:32 pm

Kick them off the team too harsh? I’m just a regular UGA student and if I did this there would be severe consequences from the higher ups at UGA. This is why people hate UGA and the football team. B/C what other school/fanbase would allow atheletes to committ crimes and use hate speech and laugh it off in the name of trying to beat UF, Auburn and others.

PowerDawg

April 2nd, 2010
4:33 pm

Hey, are you blocking my posts?

1eyedJack

April 2nd, 2010
4:38 pm

If guilty they got to, AT LEAST, go, student/athlete, just student, or janitorial staff.

But let’s not forget the Duke Lacrosse team a few years back…let justice run it’s course.

Well it’s obvious from reading Jan Kemp’s post that she’s still dead.

Oh Billy Boy…why don’t you go club some old lady golfer.

Stinger…amazingly I agreed with your first post and then you went and proved that you’re still on crack.

I am the dog…you got that right…plus you stink.

Realistic Dawg…quit posing, you’re bad at it.

Big XII…what kind of man are you? You’re not from around here huh?

dixie clear…it’s obvious that you are insane…it’s just a matter of to what degree.

Greg…I hope you’re not pre-law. We’re up to our collars already with inept politicians.

$750K…just go somewhere…you’re the person who when people see you coming they suddenly remember a prior engagement.

jdog

April 2nd, 2010
4:39 pm

Wow.
The mentality I see above from a lot of comments is that of a lynch mob. Guilty. Period. Ask no questions, just hang em. If the police find they were football players and they are quilty, then treat em like criminals, kick’em off the team, punish’em.
But until then, a lot of you are of the opinion we should consider them guilty and treat’em as such?
I just hope most of you aren’t in a position of leadership and can actually influence others. Especially our youth.
We have come so far, yet we have so far to go.

WIllie Martinez

April 2nd, 2010
4:39 pm

I know it’s not any of my former players that I coached. I wish they would give me my job back.

Fernando Appleyard

April 2nd, 2010
4:48 pm

I hope this doesn’t get national media coverage or we’ll have Al Sharpton and the ACLU to deal with.

jdog

April 2nd, 2010
4:50 pm

IF, and I say IF they are guilty Bill, they need to go. Period.
That was crap and UGA does not need people like that representing the University.
It’s unfair athletes are held to a higher standard, but thats the way it is.
As of now however, we don’t know any facts, and should therefore hold judgement until the truth comes out.

Bob

April 2nd, 2010
4:52 pm

Thanks for the informed and intelligent post Barry.

Had one of your intro classes maybe eight years ago & you managed to make 8am tolerable …

I am the dog

April 2nd, 2010
4:58 pm

Sports By Brooks dug up the police report and it turns out the four guys in question are Georgia football players, albeit unnamed Georgia football players.They’ve been charged with “terroristic threats.”

At this point your author did the following things:

Typed “borgan meister” into Google Translate in case it came back with “sausage master” or something.
Scoured the internets until I came across a Georgia Rivals mod shooting down a conspiracy theory (permalink) about the police report.
So… yeah. It appears a bratwurst-spurred slap attack by Georgia football players that becomes public on April Fool’s Day is, in fact, a legit occurrence. What a country.

No one’s confirming or denying anything about the identity of the players or even that these four guys are actually UGA players, but you can read the tone on the message board link above: this isn’t a case of mistaken identity. (Brooks reached out to UGA and got what amounts to a no comment.) Given the minor nature of the charges, none of the accused here face much more than a slap on the wrist from the legal system, but the nature of the offense paints these guys in an exceptionally unflattering light. It’s one thing to get in a fight. That happens on occasion. It’s another to start slapping people because they asked about your (completely literal, not metaphorical at all)bratwurst. If there’s not another side to the story here, a boy scoutlike Mark Richt might dole out punishment harsher than you’d expect. Bill would have said nothing had that been his wife…take one for the team dog lover.

jdog

April 2nd, 2010
5:01 pm

Willie, Richt might have an opening for you if you change your name to Uga. You coached like a dog anyway, so it might work. You get to lay on bags of ice, how cool is that?

How2fish

April 2nd, 2010
5:18 pm

Big XII and the Bull Dawg Nation don’t need any police report to know your a TOOL !

How2fish

April 2nd, 2010
5:23 pm

I am the dog the entire report has been posted on the net and there were NO names on the original report nice try you TROLL do you really think that the names would not be on the AJC the second they are confirmed please please step away from the keyboard.

Cover It Up!

April 2nd, 2010
5:34 pm

Richt needs to get the Athens police to keep this thing quiet—these players are probably starters and without them in the fall, UGA may not even beat South Carolina! Just offer a few season tickets and make this “go away.” Richt learned his trade from bobby bowden, who covered up crimes for years!!!

Dawgscout

April 2nd, 2010
5:36 pm

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that all the participants were college kids fueled by alcohol after a night partying uptown. Something tells me this grooms drunk mouth got out of hand with ONE of guys sharing the taxi. Then, he embarrassingly lost the ensuing shout down match.

George

April 2nd, 2010
5:41 pm

Why would any caring parent allow their son to join the UGA football program?

Hello BuLLdaug

April 2nd, 2010
5:42 pm

So, is Athens now the terror capital of georgia?

Big L

April 2nd, 2010
5:46 pm

Main problem I have is these guys did’nt just use intimidation, they used white guilt. They called the vics racist thenproceeded to assault and berate them. Racist is already an overused and easily thrown around term, but to use it as a tool in an assault is just digusting. I for one hope this is not true.

ga gator

April 2nd, 2010
6:13 pm

Sounds like an April fools joke to me.

Bull

April 2nd, 2010
6:28 pm

I hate to say it but the public only hears 25% of all the stuff that happens off the field.

how2fish

April 2nd, 2010
6:30 pm

Cover It Up! nice you managed to defame 2 programs with no proof..multi-tasking at its finest..congrats

Big XII

April 2nd, 2010
6:30 pm

The only joke is the UGA fans homerisim over this. People, this is the status quo for this program.

Joe

April 2nd, 2010
6:35 pm

“kick them off the team.” That would be a pretty severe punishment for some slaps in the back of the head and terroristic threats.
Jesus you are a complete idiot Bill.

how2fish

April 2nd, 2010
6:37 pm

Big XII and your the status quo for well the Big XII…. we win. Now your dismissed..

Suspended'EM-now!

April 2nd, 2010
6:41 pm

They need to be gone if all this is true.
So much for safety by taxi….!

Stinger

April 2nd, 2010
6:42 pm

I say quilty until proven innocent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawg 39

April 2nd, 2010
6:53 pm

If this is true,& I see no evidence that it is (I.e. that UGA football players are involved), then the University, not CMR, will determine the school’s punishment. The court system will also determine the results of this encounter & if found guilty the court will do the real sentencing. CMR will only be an interested bystander, However, Until proven wrong I prefer to believe NO DAWGS were involved. If I am wrong & Dawgs were involved, I believe they should be dismissed not only from the team but from UGA. This was certainly NOT typical Dawg behavior.

Big XII

April 2nd, 2010
7:01 pm

How many national championships does Georgia have?

Bill King

April 2nd, 2010
7:15 pm

“Just dumb:

I linked to the police report in the original blog. Go back and click where the words “described in the police report” are highlighted. That’s a link.

And if you do look at the report, you’ll see that it’s only the word of one of the victims that they were Georgia football players. The officer makes no conclusion in that regard.

Homer Simpson

April 2nd, 2010
7:16 pm

“I say quilty until proven innocent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

mmmmmmmmm…. quilty

Bill King

April 2nd, 2010
7:19 pm

Nilo:

I didn’t say kicking them off the team would be “too harsh.”

I said it would be “a pretty severe punishment” but that “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.”

Bill King

April 2nd, 2010
7:24 pm

atlvol55:

I don’t recall writing anything about Tennessee deserving the NCAA death penalty. You swipe a mighty broad brush there.

As for the visit of the UT girls in question, I don’t think there was any doubt it happened. There was a photograph.

ONLY Fair

April 2nd, 2010
7:26 pm

when you recruit thUGAS you get thugs.

Bill King

April 2nd, 2010
7:33 pm

“Georgia Fan”:

I don’t delete comments just because I disagree with them, or there would be many fewer comments here. Most are deleted automatically by a filter that scans for certain unacceptable words. Others that go too far get deleted in response to reader complaints.