Michael Moreno and Victor Rojas, two Texas high school football players who intentionally hit a referee who had their back to him, said today on Good Morning America that they were only doing as they were told, ABC News is reporting.
Earlier this month, as Moreno and Rojas’ team, the John Jay High School (San Antonio, Texas) Mustangs, were playing against a team from nearby Marble Falls, the two football players viciously assaulted a referee. One of the boys tackled the ref — identified as Robert Watts — from behind, while another “speared” him with his helmet while he was on the ground. You can watch a video of the assault below.
Appearing Friday on Good Morning America, along with their attorney, Jesse Hernandez, Rojas and Moreno both claimed they assaulted the referee on orders from assistant coach Mack Breed. Breed was allegedly upset with “unfair” calls Watts had allegedly made against the Mustangs, as well as allegedly using racial slurs against players on the team. That claim is echoed by Rojas, according to Sporting News.
“He told one of my Hispanic friends, he told him, ‘Speak English. This is America.’ To an African-American, he told him the N-word.”
Moreno says that Breed called him and another, unidentified player and ordered them to carry out the hit on Watts.
“He pulled me and another player and told us, ‘You need to hit the ref. He needs to pay the price.'”
Moreno then conveyed the order to Rojas. The other player, however, did not follow through with it.
Despite being ordered to carry out the hit by their coach, as Moreno and Rojas allege, Moreno is prepared to accept the consequences for his actions.
“You can’t just do that because of something you were told, and I’m ready to face my consequences. I am greatly sorry for this, and I regret it greatly, and I just hope that people can change their minds about us, and, you know, lighten up our consequences.”
Rojas, also, is apologetic.
“I would apologize for the mistake that I made.”
Both Moreno and Rojas were suspended from school and have been attending an alternative school while their suspension plays out. Both boys have been removed from the team and cannot return this year. Breed is on paid administrative leave as the school district conducts its own investigation into the incident. Watts has threatened legal action against Rojas and Moreno, while officials with the Northside Independent School District say they intend to file a formal complaint against Watts for his alleged racial slurs and unfair officiating. Marble Falls police are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident.
Do you think Moreno and Rojas deserve to be punished, even though they claim they were following their coach’s orders? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image courtesy of: YouTube]