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

76-Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
7:33 pm

I hope that the police investigation will find the students responsible whether they are football players or just students. If it is true then the school needs to expel them. But this is one time that I would make sure that all 4 took part in the incident. It sounds like you had one instigator and one other was showing how classy,dumb ass, he could be and the other two were bystanders. They wouldn’t have showed much class not intervening but expelling them would be too severe. This is one time that guilty by association may not fit. But the other two need to go. I would subpoena the cab driver and see if the man and his wife instigated the incident any or fueled the situation to such a bad outcome.

doogiestephan

April 2nd, 2010
7:41 pm

please come visit my blog! please guys!

doogiestephan.com

Lood AXE

April 2nd, 2010
7:50 pm

Those thugs need to be kicked off the team and out of school period! I bet Saint Mark already has a good idea who the guilty are and is just keeping quiet for now.

Question?

April 2nd, 2010
7:52 pm

Why are all the UGA haters jumping on here and saying that Mark Richt only recruits thugs and Richt is a bad guy? I know him personally and that is the last thing that should ever be concluded. He is a great man and he wants quality Christian men in and around his program. But all he knows about a player is how the player acts in front of him. Richt is a fine Christian man and the punishments do come from over his head so do not judge him on that. Im not saying he is perfect but Richt is truly a role model when many other coaches in the spot light are not. Please stick to the facts which are pretty vague to say the least.

Sad Richards

April 2nd, 2010
7:55 pm

Doogie you wuss! Your continual bashing of the AJC UGA sports blog and its bloggers is just lame. Dude go out and find a woman or maybe in you case, a partner in life that will give you a purpose in life…..

UT Suxs

April 2nd, 2010
8:32 pm

Maybe it was Da’ Rick…not Derrick?

dawgstephentard

April 2nd, 2010
8:36 pm

Dawgstephen is really going out on a limb by basically being a CMR robot. What a tard! Read my blog. Errrrrr Read my blog…..errrrr I’m Dawgstephen errrrrr I’m an idiot errrrr

jc

April 2nd, 2010
8:39 pm

THUGS-THUGS-THUGS and CMR must be afraid of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawg Tired

April 2nd, 2010
8:43 pm

Gregg – Help me. Who are the five players who have been arrested? I assume you are not so stupid as to be counting the 4 unknown guys discussed in the incident described in this article. Pretty difficult to arrest 4 guys who might be football players and might not be football players. Now, while I have assumed you are not stupid enough to count these 4 unknown persons, let me say that if you are counting them then you are in fact dumber than dirt.

Man That Dude Is Stressed Out!

April 2nd, 2010
8:46 pm

Saint Simons is My Janitor

April 2nd, 2010
8:50 pm

any tech fans up for a cab ride

Dawg Tired

April 2nd, 2010
8:59 pm

I don’t think it could be any of our players because the report indicates they actually were able to hit their target.

Saint Simons is My Janitor

April 2nd, 2010
9:03 pm

Dawg Tired

You make a great point

Im feeling a little easier now knowing we have our first positive clue!!

Don in DC

April 2nd, 2010
9:12 pm

Very thoughtful blog post Mr. King. Thank you. – Don

UGA Student

April 2nd, 2010
10:07 pm

First of all, many of you think its assanine to believe they were football players. I highly doubt Coach Richt would be involved if there wasn’t reason or proof that they were football players. Secondly, these boys were dropped off at ECV, where the athletes live. Yes, I hope they aren’t football players, but many of you that think there is no way it could be might want to consider the odds stacked against them. Read the report on the redandblack.com for a more gruesome detailed report.

col fot

April 2nd, 2010
10:16 pm

more trashy bull…. by the ajc haters of UGA

SickandTired

April 2nd, 2010
10:51 pm

Mark Richt wouldn’t have players that do those kinds of things. They are innocent, all of them. The water girl knows they wouldn’t do anyhing bad doesn’t she. They say, “we likes the water girl.”

Chuck

April 2nd, 2010
11:35 pm

F’n idiots… Duke lacrosse, anyone? Why do you morons insist on being a lynch mob instead of letting the process play out before you make assumptions? You are all every bit as dumb as the rest of the world believe that you are. Typical judgemental white trash!
Hey, Big XII (which should actually be called big one plus little eleven)… I bet you suck one hell of a big twelve every chance you get. If your d!ck was as big as your mouth, every woman in America would be lined up at your door to take a ride. Too bad it’s probably the same size as your second grade intellect… That over-rated junior varsity conference should keep its mouth shut now and forever, and so should you. You have nothing to offer an intelligent conversation, so go to your closet and look for your inflatable date. The Tech nerds can tell you how to work it.

No Big Deal

April 2nd, 2010
11:42 pm

Some football players slap around some dude and his girlfriend — what’s the big deal. They probably had it coming. These players need some space and shouldn’t have to put up with all this. Next time, this dude needs to stay out of the way.

Big Black Man from Athens

April 3rd, 2010
12:00 am

So a drunk married, thats still in college!?, couple makes an allegation two days after the fact and assumes these guys are football players and now every one believes them. This is bogus and the couple should get thrown out of school for making false accusations!

The Lady Dogs in OT

April 3rd, 2010
12:59 am

How dare you, Bill. Of course you have to let the facts come out, but to suggest that getting kicked off the team for terrorizing the other students, including sexually intimidating the wife and physically striking both the husband and wife, is too severe is really out of touch. You toss out that they represent UGA as if it were a minor thing. You need to wise up, and CMR had better start coaching character better than he has been. No excuse for such a scandal-ridden decade. Prevent, CMR, don’t just react.

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:01 am

The racists are the ones who assume that four black men can’t be in college unless they are on the football team. This is one of the most bogus reports I have ever read! When it comes to light that these guys were not on the football team I encourage all UGA Alumni and Fans to pursue legal action against the sporting news bloger for slander. Why let the facts get in the way of your blog?

The Lady Dogs in OT

April 3rd, 2010
1:02 am

BigBlack, if the allegations were bogus then the police would not have reported it. I know that witnesses in East Village who saw the 4 guys get out of the taxi had already called the police when the story first broke. I guess you want to forgive them because they are black, which is more racist than merely describing what they did.

The Lady Dogs in OT

April 3rd, 2010
1:04 am

UGAAlum: If the allegations are proven completely false, then I agree with you about pursuing legal action. Without sources the headline sounds like recruiting chicanery. But you are jumping the gun assuming the accusers are racists, also.

JacketRocket

April 3rd, 2010
1:07 am

Haha. UGA Alumnus, you live up to your name. While crying “racism” and “prejudice” at the media you assume the accusers were racists and liars. We don’t know if the story is true, we don’t know if it isn’t. You are more guilty than the Sporting News because there is a decidedly racist tinge to your accusation.

JacketRocket

April 3rd, 2010
1:09 am

It would be surprising if the four, very large, black men who got out of the taxi in front of one of the unofficial athlete’s dorms were not in some way related to the athletic program. Damon Evans better snap to, and keep his own house in order by cracking some coaches’ heads.

Dawg2011

April 3rd, 2010
1:11 am

This is why I hate it when our coaches recruit criminals and they embarrass the university: we have to hear from Tech fans like JR. And don’t be fooled, we deserve it, CMR deserves it, and as long as we worship our mid-tier football team as if they were gods they will continue to be mid-tier and continue to get into trouble.

Dawg2011

April 3rd, 2010
1:14 am

Kick any player in any sport who behaves as these four supposedly did, and suspend any other players who knew about it and did not report it. UGA is bigger than any four jocks, and this pattern of behavior has to be stopped. Richt should be punished too if they were his players, because this has happened too often in the last four years.

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:15 am

I am not jumping the gun but when I went to UGA I knew who the football players were, I had classes with alot of them and you would always see them hangin out at Tate together. If the truely were football players then the accusers should have been able to find out there identity via the internet by now. My room mate in college was a 6-6, 260 pound black guy, and he didn’t play for UGA. I guess since an allegation was made then it must be true? The sporting news said they it is true and they are football players, with no evidence. I am just glad that you, Mr. Rocket, are never called for jury duty!

CMR Redux

April 3rd, 2010
1:16 am

These players do not represent the best of the UGA football team. In fact, I’ve had about 35-40 players since 2006 who have not represented the program well. I will deal severely with them, just as I have in the past, which seems to be working so well as a deterrent, don’t you think?

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:17 am

Excuse me, I just hope that you are never called for jury duty!

CMR Redux

April 3rd, 2010
1:17 am

Now, before we take the field, let us pray. By the way, everyone watch you butts while we close our eyes and nod.

CMR Redux

April 3rd, 2010
1:18 am

Lord, please don’t let any more of my players get caught when they break the law.

CMR Redux

April 3rd, 2010
1:19 am

And Lord, next time I tell them to take a taxi instead of driving drunk or without a license, lead them to a taxi with some sisters on board so nobody files a complaint or criminal charges.

JacketRocket

April 3rd, 2010
1:26 am

I’m sure you were intimately acquainted with your beloved football players while you were in school, but how could you recognize them while you were on your knees? The Sporting News was wrong to print that headline with no better sources, but I contend that you are either disingenuous, dishonest, or incredibly short-sided if you think that the accusers just assumed their assailants were football players because they were black. THe fact that the taxi dropped them off outside housing primarily inhabited by athletes, their size and degree of fitness, and any number of other clues would lend credence to their accusations. In the absence of any animosity towards the football program, this couple should be assumed to be as innocent as your blow buddies until proven otherwise.

gp295

April 3rd, 2010
1:26 am

First of all, if it was the other way around there wouldn;t be a stories. In these day young blk men toke gun like credit card, you wouldn’t disrepect his wife,sister of mother. Please wait until the whole story is out, Susan Smith.

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:26 am

All we have at this point is a statement from an intoxicated person returning home from downtown Athens in cab. The best description he can give is they were four, big, black guys! Come on, you in your intoxicated state, could indentify them as football players, but not their names? When they release names, and prove that it was football players, I fully support kicking them out of school, but until that point I am under the assumption that this was a sick April Fools joke!

JacketRocket

April 3rd, 2010
1:28 am

Believe it or not, UGA Alumnus, many of the tens of thousands of students in Athens actually have lives of their own and don’t worship the jocks as you apparently did.

JacketRocket

April 3rd, 2010
1:29 am

Who said any one in that cab was intoxicated?

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:29 am

JacketRocket, I do not swing that way but hey if you want to wave the rainbow flag off the balcony of your mid town apartment, more power to you. If I was you I would quit licking Paul Johnson’s Man boobies and start wondering why your team sucks so bad!

JacketRocket

April 3rd, 2010
1:29 am

And there were 3 witnesses, not including the cabbie who is conveniently denying knowing them even though he called one by name.

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:31 am

I didn’t worship the Jocks but I do love some UGA football. I guess that is something you wouldn’t understand since has a AA high school program thats going bankrupt!

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:32 am

If you read the police report the guy said he “wasn’t that drunk”, ha, famous last words!

JacketRocket

April 3rd, 2010
1:34 am

Yes, we indeed did suck since we lost to UGA this year, but over the past two years we’ve done pretty well…a helluva lot better than CMR’s chain gang record-wise and 1-1 under CPJ. I’m sure you’d love to run up some flagboy’s flagpole, but since you can’t even read a simple, straightforward report accurately I’m guessing you can’t get it up past half-mast. Maybe Uga 7 can give you a reach around, but wait, he’s dead! You could bang Russ, but you might get white butt paint all over you.

JacketRocket

April 3rd, 2010
1:35 am

I guess you’re stuck with your sister and mother, as usual. Enjoy.

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:35 am

Jacket Rocket: It must suck to have a team so sorry that the only thing you can take pride in is bashing your big brother from Athens. I am more concerned with Terrorists breeding ground over on North Avenue!

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:40 am

I actually have a girl friend so I don’t have to go the Clairmount to get close to a women like lil Jacket sissies. It must suck to have more middle eastern students then coeds!

UGA Alumnus

April 3rd, 2010
1:47 am

Jacket Rocket you apparently have a lot of homo thoughts. Leave it to a tech student to try and turn a football blog into a gay chat room!

Willie Martinez

April 3rd, 2010
8:10 am

Things are going well with our D out here in Norman! If anybody cares.

Montrell

April 3rd, 2010
8:50 am

This is another example of the racism around here against African-Americans. These white people are probably making up these stories to get some brothers in trouble—this probably didn’t even happen. It’s just another way they are trying to keep the black man down in the south. I’m getting tired of this and may move back up north when the economy gets better.