“This is just uncalled for in the NFL. … Not sure who that person is, but they should be ashamed of themselves for that type of action. That has no place in any athletic event.”
- CBS analyst Dan Fouts after a replay showed Sal Alosi subtly sticking his knee out along the sidelines tripping up Nolan Carroll.
The cheap shot still boggles my mind, as does the coach's ironic first name (sal is French for dirty).
Alosi, the New York Jets assistant coach, who tripped up Miami Dolphin player Carroll during a game, was suspended by the team Monday night without pay for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, and fined $25,000.
After the hit, Carroll was seen limping off the field. It seems, though, that he wasn't seriously hurt. He returned for the 4th quarter, and after the game told his mother, Jennifer Carroll, he was fine.
As you can imgaine, Carroll's mother wasn't happy about the incident. She said she was watching the game on TV and feared her son had been seriously hurt. He twice broke his right leg, once to end his senior season in high school, and again to end his senior season at Maryland.
Jennifer Carroll, Florida's lieutenant governor-elect, has said she hopes good can come from the incident.
"I think it's being dealt with as fairly as it can be," Carroll said. "Hopefully it will be an opportunity to make some changes along the sideline, so individuals will know they cannot engage in this type of activity just to benefit your team, or to hurt the other players because your team might be losing."
After the game, Alosi took responsibility for his actions.
"I made a mistake that showed a total lapse in judgment. My conduct was inexcusable and unsportsmanlike and does not reflect what this organization stands for."
Alosi also said he apologized by phone to Carroll and to Dolphins coach Tony Sparano. Carroll said after the game he was not angry, but he was still sorting out the episode.
If Carroll had been seriously injured, or worse, sustained a career-ending injury, this could have been much much worse for Carroll, and would certainly not have met with such a quick resolution. Carroll could have sued Alosi for battery and sought significant monetary damages. As well, the Jets could have been sued on the basis that as Carroll's employer they are responsible for actions he commits in the course of his employment (this is called vicarious liability because the Jets didn't commit the wrong themselves).
It was also open to the NFL to discipline Alosi pursuant to the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. The Policy not only applies to players, but also to team employees and coaches. Here's the relevant section of the Policy:
All persons associated with the NFL are required to avoid “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League.” This requirement applies to players, coaches, other team employees, owners, game officials and all others privileged to work in the National Football League.
According to the Policy, the possible penalties include "fines, suspension, or banishment from the League".
It was therefore open to the NFL to kick Alosi out of the league (or to pressure the Jets to fire him). However, as noted on my Twitter account yesterday, banishment was unlikely unless Alosi had engaged in a pattern of misconduct (see Michael Vick).
While unlikely, banishment was still a possibility. Alosi's actions were so reprehensible, dangerous, misguided and downright dirty that his termination may have been on the table.
So getting off with a 3 game suspension plus playoffs is a result that Alosi should be pleased with. It could have been a lot worse.
If he had ended Carroll's career or seriously injured him, this could have become very messy very quickly, and could have ended up in court.
How Did This Happen in the First Place?
When such a uniquely disturbing and dirty incident occurs, we need to ask how this happened.
Miami linebacker Karlos Dansby blamed the incident on the culture fostered by head coach Rex Ryan.
"Alosi is just taking after the head coach, man. It all trickles downhill,” Dansby said. “That’s how I look at it, it trickles downhill. The head coach, he opened a can of worms over there and now he’s got to fix it.”
You have to wonder, though, if the same incident would have occurred if Alosi was standing in the same place and coaching under the exact same circumstances - but doing so for the Patriots. Something tells me that a Bill Belichick team culture would have made such an incident unlikely.
However, I'm not sure you can place the blame on Ryan or the Jets. Neither endorsed what Alosi did. Alosi, may in fact, be the only one to blame.
Glad the Carroll is doing ok. A serious injury would have been a real shame for this 23 year old defensive back from Florida.