Over the course of an NFL game, players constantly slap their teammates' helmets -- in celebration or disgust -- but is it OK for a coach to do the same to a high school kid?
During the nationally televised ESPN High School Football Kickoff over the weekend, cameras caught Weston (Fl.) Cypress Bay High coach Mark Guandolo giving senior quarterback Lucas Tellefsen an ear full -- followed by a swift smack on the helmet.
"I should’ve done it a different way," Guandolo told the Miami Herald after a 38-14 loss to American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) School. "I hugged him after and just tried to find ways to get him to compete and he did. He really finished strong and I was proud of him."
The slap occurred after Tellefsen overthrew a receiver on a third-and-seven from the 25-yard line with his team trailing American Heritage just 14-7 in the second quarter.
Local media outlets latched on to the story, inundating Broward County school officials with requests for comment. On Monday, school officials responded by suspending Guandolo for two weeks from all athletic activities and three days from the entire school itself.
Meanwhile, Guandolo told the paper he spoke to both Tellefsen and his father Eric following the game, and neither expressed a care in the world about the head slap.
"I've known the family for a long time," Guandolo told the paper. "We're friends. Eric Tellefsen understands how I coach Lucas up, and he’s fine. We’ve known each other for years."
The father was even more profuse in his support of the coach.
"We love Coach G. He's coached two of my older sons that are in college on football scholarships," Tellefsen told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, adding that his family was behind the coach 110 percent. "There'd be a line wrapped around the corner if you called his players and wanted to know what he’s done for them."
Guandolo is somewhat of a legend in the South Florida high school football community, spending more than a quarter-century on the sidelines of five area schools and leading Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna College Prep to state titles in 2003 and 2005.
Now, the longtime coach expects to hear from school officials early this week about something that's probably happened a thousand times since his career began in 1987.
"This is my life," Guandolo told the Miami Herald. "I put 30 years of everything I have into kids today and trying to help them be better people and you hate for something like this to put a damper on all that. I’m sick about it."
Seriously, it's football. Players get their helmets slapped. Carry on.