Somewhere, there is a team of anger management counselors capable of providing adequate therapy to both Ron English and Richie Incognito. It’s time to use the bat signal to get them out of their cave and help these two troubled souls. (For the record, the bat signal for the super-hero anger management counselors is the silhouette of Bobby Knight’s face). In the case of Incognito, the dude’s a complete dick and a locker room cancer. Anyone who followed that guys career saw his troubles from a mile away. Ron English, not so much.
English, while an intense competitor, did not seem like he could fall to these depths. I’m sure he dressed his team down on several occasions. But to use homophobic slurs, to call them quitters and complainers, no, I have to say I did not see that coming. What he said was reprehensible. When he said it completely boggles the mind. In the words of Army Counselor Joseph Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”
You see, if the report is accurate, Ron English’s tirade happened the week after Demarius Reed was murdered. Have you no decency, indeed.
The appalling audio of English’s outburst is quite revealing. No, it doesn’t reveal that Ron English is a monster. What he said, and when he said it, was monstrous, but it was the act of a desperate, stressed-out man – a man defeated by his job, probably humiliated by his own failure. He should not have been in that situation. He should have been fired weeks earlier.
Every single person who is close to this program knew Ron English was finished after the Ball State loss. I’m sure Ron English knew it. At that point, he had a record of 11-41 and was headed for what we all saw happen, a complete implosion. Forget the Detroit media, who show up only when coaches get fired or a player gets murdered. Those who know the program inside and out knew it was over, and saw this disaster waiting to happen. Eagle Totem, The Eastern Echo – the only ones who are covering this program week in and week out, not as an afterthought but as a real passion – called for English to be let go before things went to shit. We were ignored, and things went to shit.
Don’t get me wrong, the fault of the tirade lies with English. Those were his words, and he will have to live with that. His future job hunt just became very difficult. But keeping English around while things fell apart was soaking the rag in kerosene, lighting it, and sticking it in a bottle of petrol. Failure and stress can reduce a man to his most base behavior. Firing English after the Ball State loss would not just have been good for the program, it would have been an act of mercy.
As much as we are all happy that Eastern beat Western yesterday, this has been a horrible year for the EMU program. We’ve been in the news twice this year, once when our starting wide receiver was gunned down in a callous and cowardly act, and once when the head coach went on a homophobic tirade that would make Alec Baldwin wince.
What English did isn’t so different from Richie Incognito. It was harassment, pure and simple. Just like Jonathan Martin, these guys who were verbally abused by English were just trying to play football. Every one of these players has courage and guts, or else they wouldn’t be risking CTE or whatever other long-term injuries can come from crashing into other humans at high speeds. No football player deserves to have their manhood questioned.
All this makes me that much more proud of this team’s (and the coaches) victory on Saturday. It was a good win, and hopefully behind Stan Parrish Eastern can salvage a win or two more here at the end. Too bad Parrish wasn’t given this chance a month ago, EMU could have been spared this embarrassment.