Dirty hit taken care of properly
When punt returners wave an arm in the air to signal for a fair catch, it is a means of self-protection. Yet the gesture does not always guarantee a clean, safe result.
On Oct. 30 Southeastern Conference foes Arkansas and Vanderbilt matched up. The Razorbacks edged the Commodores 31-28 in Nashville, Tenn., but it wasn’t the Razorbacks come-from-behind victory that sparked a national debate.
Instead it was Arkansas freshman Marquel Wade’s punishing hit on Vanderbilt punt returner Jonathan Krause.
With the Razorbacks’ special teams unit fast approaching after a punt, Krause opted for the fair catch. Wade couldn’t slow down and continued to accelerate to Krause at full-speed.
Arkansas was penalized and Wade was ejected. But what drew the ire of fans was Wade’s initial reaction. He celebrated the collision, and once he was thrown out of the game he was fuming.
He issued an apology through the media Monday, and said he mistakenly thought Krause had possession of the punt.
“I was just going out there doing 100 percent, trying to play my game and I messed up,” Wade said. “I take all the responsibility for everything I did.
“I really want to just apologize for any embarrassment I did for the fans, also for the organization. Any situation that I get into, whatever they say goes. I got to just take what I did and go with it, just to the future.”
The incident was a reminder of how brutal the contact in football can be. As devastating a tackle as Wade delivered, Krause was luckily able to continue playing. Wade drew some harsh criticisms, but his act should be chalked up as a freshman mistake. Only if this becomes a pattern should Wade receive the unwanted label of a dirty player.
His response on the field was immature, but his apology was sincere and the SEC has suspended him for one game.
People who have limited athletic experiences have no way of understanding how emotional specific situations can get in the heat of competition. It may never be known if Wade definitely saw Krause wave for a fair catch. Either way, the situation could set the precedent for this sort of flagrance in football.
Wade missing a game is a suitable punishment, and it should be enough for him to learn his lesson. His No. 8-ranked Razorbacks are set to take on No. 10 South Carolina on Saturday — Wade probably won’t enjoy participating as a spectator. The SEC deserves credit for making a decisive, timely action.
For once, the powers that be of college football dealt with something appropriately and quickly.