Imagine you or someone you know gets knocked down in a crowd. Assume that it's an accident and no injuries of any significance are sustained in the fall. Assume further that all this, including the identities of the parties involved, were recorded on a security or other video camera.
What if the person who fell into you decided to jab their hand into your throat and push their 200+ pounds strenuously off of you as they got up?
That's pretty much what Ohio State University senior linebacker Robert Reynolds did in the third quarter on live television Saturday night.
His victim? Wisconsin quarter back Jim Sorgi - the same guy who appeared to be leading his Badgers to a win-streak breaking, upset victory over OSU.
The result? Mr. Sorgi could barely breathe from the swelling and certainly couldn't call plays or bark out the signals and the second-string quarterback had to take over.
Is there any justice? Part I - yes. The second-stringer stepped up and threw a 79 yard touchdown pass to retake the lead with little time left and the Badgers won the day on the field.
OSU lost the game, the longest current win-streak in the nation, a place in the top five and, after their coach deliberated on the obvious for a couple of days, their linebacker - for 1 game. A whole, entire game, in a corner all timed out, with no dessert. To their partial credit, both the coach and Mr. Reynolds have apologized.
Is there any justice?: Part II - yes. Jim Sorgi should be all right and is practicing with his team for their next game.
Violent physical contact is not only part of the game of American Football, it is an essential part. Participants acknowledge this and yet continue to play, taking reasonable care to protect themselves and each other. In spite of that, they continue to sustain serious and, on thankfully rare occasions, fatal injuries. Football rules prohibit unnecessary roughness, yet no one who's ever played the game would deny that nasty things go on out of the sight of the officials.
That harm is done to others unseen or even legitimately before the whistle ends the play does not alter the fact that Mr. Reynolds saw an immoral opportunity to diminish the threat to his team's success on the field by intentionally harming an opponent and chose to take it. Mr. Sorgi has a rather long, thin neck and is fortunate that his larnyx wasn't crushed (which could be fatal) or permanently damaged.
The question of whether or not Mr. Reynolds should be charged with assault appears to depend on whether or not Mr. Sorgi presses charges. I think he should and should only consider dropping them if and until the OSU Athletic Director and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany present a more comprehensive set of consequences for Mr. Reynolds and OSU AND establish a better policy governing such deliberate unsportsmanlike actions that might occur in the future.
It would be a good idea for all Bowl Championship Series aspiring sports conferences to evaluate their policies governing on-field crimes.
AND, I think it would behoove the NCAA to focus their nazi-like zeal for punishing schools for rules infractions on this behavior at least as much as they do for out-of-control boosters letting athletes use phone-cards to call their mamas.