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

Rational Thought

April 3rd, 2010
8:58 am

Kick Who off the team? If they are not football players then you get what you want. They won’t be on the team. Why do so many people jump to conclusions. Whoever is guilty should be punished. Everyone would agree with that. There seems to be only one who hit and that person should be punished more harshly, however all involved should have some punishment (if found guilty).

GRRRRR...

April 3rd, 2010
9:10 am

mean dawgs, stay mean, stay hungary, slap everybody….GATA!!

GRRRRR...

April 3rd, 2010
9:13 am

as my liberal homey’s say, it is not their fault…they were raised in abusive homes with no love and molested…compassion and therapy will be adequate…

Hartman Donor

April 3rd, 2010
9:27 am

shannon

April 3rd, 2010
9:30 am

Bill, as a life long Dawg and Alumn, this comment by you troubles me: “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.”

Do you have a wife, or a daughter??????? I do. IF IF these allegations are true, then can you imagine being a woman stuck in the back of a van and four big mn talking about raping you?????????

You, my friend, are a moron.

Of course these guys are innocent until proven guilty. If these allegations were made up, then the couple who made them up should be kicked out of the university for smearing the character of these four men.

But IF true, you are saying as long as these guys can tackle and hit, you are cool with it. Pretty pathetic.

Mark Richt is handling this correctly.

Go Dawgs!!

Really Bill?

April 3rd, 2010
9:40 am

100% agree shannon. Bill- football always come first at UGA huh? Don’t try to back pedal on this comment either. You need to seriously think about what you said, You even say “SOME slaps on the head” like it was meaningless. If I was your wife or daughter I would be very disappointed by this.

Ron Burgundy

April 3rd, 2010
9:48 am

I just read the police report.

Waiting the length of time that they did does seem odd, but it at least leads me to believe that the story isn’t made up. It seems more likely they stewed about the incident and decided to call rather than randomly call and make a false claim, which doesn’t make sense.

Although he did say that the bratwursts from The Grill smelled good. Hmmmm…maybe so.

Either way, this is going to get ugly. And I’ll be all over this story…like it was Veronica Corningstone’s haunches.

Stay classy, World.

DirtyDawg

April 3rd, 2010
10:36 am

They need to get to the bottom of this ‘now’, and end it one way or the other. Otherwise, the SOBs that never actually need an excuse to ‘trash’ Georgia and Mark Richt, will keep using this one until the damage can’t be undone.

If it turns out that none of this was true, or that football players weren’t involved, or whatever that will render all this speculation just more lies designed to defame and ridicule, then those of you that have used it to do your usual ‘bad-mouthing’ will need to make a few amends somehow…stayin’ away form here forever would do as a start.

jrepetto22

April 3rd, 2010
10:48 am

Lets hope that (1) the reported incident is NOT true, and (2) the alleged suspects are not members of the UGA football team. As a former cop of 29 yrs, I can tell you that the facts have to “match” the reported incident. And as far as suspect Identification goes, gonna have to be more than just a first name and a witness thinks he’s on the team. Lets see where the investigation leads and what Facts! do come out. If this incident is true and the suspects are football players, then by all means harsh punishment needs to be handed down by the UGA administration and Coach M.R. but lets wait see…

I am the dog

April 3rd, 2010
11:19 am

sad sad sad….we should support the schools and so should the students by acting like they care. Do not say they are kids,they are young adults living in the real world .There are limits to what the masses feel is expectable behavior. The school has to make a stand by setting the example

Denver Dawg

April 3rd, 2010
12:53 pm

This is all a bunch of BS, probably made up by a Tech fan to get Ga players in trouble—no Ga players were involved in this—bank on it! It will all get cleared up before fall season and the Dawgs will roll baby!!! Looking for a BCS bowl this year, with the best D in the SEC!!!!

Stinger

April 3rd, 2010
6:40 pm

It will all be swept under the rug as usual. These thugs will not have to sit out any games and all 4 will get raises. I wish they would try that with me. I would punch and karate kick all 4 on their AZZ.

Mark Richt

April 3rd, 2010
6:42 pm

I can’t affor to take disciplinary action against my players. I was forced to fire Willie last year and I could be next, so I must get my players out of this mess, even if it cost me half my salary.

Bill King

April 3rd, 2010
7:25 pm

No, Shannon, that’s not what I’m saying at all. See Saturday’s blog.

Bill King

April 3rd, 2010
7:28 pm

The Lady Dogs in OT:

“If the allegations were bogus then the police would not have reported it.”

You are being ironic, right?

voice of reality

April 3rd, 2010
7:42 pm

Let’s look at the big picture.1. Has any names been released-No 2.With a team of over 70+ players;you would think that someone would spell their guts to someone(coaches,reporters). 3. Four Players- one of them by now would turn on the others to get favoritism from Mark Richt/staff. 4.WHY wait to file a police report two days later? Thousands of students out that night;they would know if four UGA football players were together out that night(somebody would have seen them).5. The food the couple said they smelled.Whereever that food was served the police have already checked for a witness.6. AS of right now NO ARREST HAVE BEEN MADE. SOooooo- let’s sit back and see what goes down. I pray it is not one of our player’s! I hope they all have common sense,but you are talking about 19yr.-21yr.olds.

LT5000

April 3rd, 2010
11:41 pm

I wonder where Bill King was when the false stories of the Tea Partiers were spitting on congressmen and calling them Ni****rs.

Plenty of video showing that didn’t occur and even Cleaver refuses to repeat the lie.

I suspect Mr. King wasn’t willing to hold his judgement at that point.

And the AJC continues to crumble.

LT5000

Big Black Man

April 4th, 2010
4:21 pm

The chicks in athens dig the big black men!!! They like it real!!!

voice of reality

April 4th, 2010
6:31 pm

The chicks in Athens dig the big and little white men!!!!!!!!! They like it real and smart!!!!!!!

voice of reality

April 4th, 2010
6:45 pm

Montez–Montez what were you thinking????? I know you were driving the Taxi the other night!

woops there it is

April 4th, 2010
6:53 pm

wow….kicked off the team because of a warrant issued Sat…..hummmmmm? wonder what that could be about? Now… about how it was all made up and a UGA player wouldn’t do that and how everyone would have to come on here and say sorry? And who was it who said remember what happened at Duke? There is no comparison between the kids that attend DUKE and thUGA. Duke would never offer to that sort of trash…thats why we got UGA.

how2fish

April 5th, 2010
9:45 am

woops there it is it wasn’t anything to do with the taxi issue..now please go away.As your not man enough to admit your wrong.

Mike

April 5th, 2010
3:36 pm

Just how long does it take to get to the bottom of this incident?