Dirty plays come up in high school sports frequently, and usually they're punished appropriately by referees. Occasionally, though, they slip through the cracks. But now, with the overwhelming majority of prep football games being filmed by the teams themselves and usually some media source, video evidence can retroactively be used to provide appropriate discipline for players who get away with something they did in the heat of the moment.
That's what one Maryland family and fan base is hoping to have happen after their star halfback received a minor injury during a regional playoff game.
The play that you see above -- both in real time and then in slow-motion, to demonstrate how violent the action was -- came during the Cumberland (Md.) Fort Hill High Class 1A playoff game against Brunswick (Md.) High on Friday, Nov. 11. During the course of Fort Hill's 49-27 victory, Sentinels fullback Garrett Clay was tackled by a trio of aggressive Brunswick defenders.
As the three players pulled him down, one of the Railroaders -- who was later identified as Dylon Brown -- grabbed Clay's leg and violently pulled it nearly 180 degrees away from where the rest of his body was lying prone on the ground.
Clearly, there was absolutely no possible justification for Brown's action. Yet, if you go back and watch the play again in real time, you'll notice that Brown not only attempts to injure Clay by violently yanking his leg, he then proceeds to get up and celebrate something with his teammates. We can all hope that he was celebrating the group tackle, though it's impossible to be sure.
During the game, officials somehow missed the aggressive pull, which clearly had an affect on Clay, who had to limp back to the huddle and eventually made his way to the bench to have his knee and ankle checked out. In an incredibly fortuitous circumstance, Clay somehow emerged from the incident without major injury, though he clearly could have suffered a ligament sprain or tear based on the way his leg was jerked.
Yet, despite the fact that the play was taped and replayed (in slow motion at that) on television, no one with the Brunswick athletic department stepped forward to independently discipline their dirty player. In fact, the school's athletic director refused to even return a call seeking comment on the incident from Jim Zapf, the Fort Hill radio commentator for Wolf99.5 FM, which broadcasts the school's games.
In the days since the game, video of the incident has sparked significant debate on the MdHigh.com, a Rivals.com high school affiliate which covers prep sports news from across the state. On Wednesday, Clay's mother wrote in to the site's message boards to make her case that Brown deserves to face some sort of punishment or -- at the very least -- apologize publicly to her son.
You can read her entire commentary on the incident here, but these are just a few of the high points of a mother's deeply disappointed reaction to what a level of inaction from a school administration that is awfully hard to defend.
I would have thought that any adult (parent,coach,principal,AD) that would have viewed this malicious, deliberate play would take responsibility and discipline this young man on their OWN. Or at least apologize! For it is the RIGHT thing to do, not because Garrett's mother called and complained! Not only are these adults teaching this yong man that what he did was acceptable, they are teaching him to only apoligize if necessary or asked to do so. That apology should have been made with NO complaints from anyone!!
Just because my son and I are not whinning and complaining on these ridiculous boards does not mean we are over it! Ive told Garrett that the focus is on this week, not last week. Is that why you say he is over it???? Just because he is not whinning does not mean that it is acceptable or forgotten! Yes, when "YOU" ask Garrett how he is....his reply will be "im fine". It is not anyones business for us to go explaining.Do you feel if #4 would have broken my son's ankle/leg or injured his knee, the outcome should be different for this young man? You want to say...."hes a good kid". Well, good kids make mistakes too! But i teach my children to own up to what they have done and apologize!
Whether or not the Clay family's entry into the debate surrounding her son's injury during Friday's game will incite action from Brunswick remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: She's right. No matter what does happen, the right thing to do would be for Brown -- and the adults who oversee him -- to apologize, at the very least.