Miami foot stomping player’s
penalty a ‘disappointment’

Oct 24, 2006 5:29 AM

Welcome to the Coliseum.

Not the Memorial Coliseum on Figueroa in Los Angeles, built for the 1932 Olympics and a major presence in L.A. ever since.

And not to the original Colosseum, built 1,926 years ago in Rome, where Christians were fed to lions and gladiators battled for a thumbs up or thumbs down life or death decisions. Historical estimates say 10,000 were killed in that arena, still a monument to the cruelty of man.

But I’m talking about the modern arena for that kind of stuff, available weekly on your home TV, showing that we’ve not come too far in base instincts in 2,000 years.

All of you have seen by now, over and over, replays of the Miami and Florida International University battle, with players from both teams swinging helmets, crutches and punches, and one clod, identified as Brandon Meriweather of Miami, kicking and stomping a guy lying on the ground.

You know, good old American gladiators, showing the best of American’s fighting spirit.

Shortly after that performance came the story of charges of attempted murder being filed against one Mitchell Cozad, of Wheatland, Wyoming. A warrant was issued for his arrest and prosecutors said he could face up to 48 years in prison if convicted.

Cozad is not some killer on the loose.

He was the backup punter on the football team of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and he wanted to be the regular punter. So he took a page from the book of another wholesome star of American sports, the almost but not quite forgotten Tonya Harding.

You remember Tonya. She was the Olympic hopeful figure skater who decided she wanted to be number one, but had a problem. Actually she had a number of problems, but the main one was Nancy Kerrigan, a better skater who was sound of mind and body, until Tonya hired some hoods, including her ex-husband, to club Nancy on the knee and try to break her leg.

Three guys were charged with assault, Harding admitted to knowing of the plot, then finally admitted guilt in a plea bargain to avoid prison, and was thrown out of figure skating for life. Before that, however, she actually was allowed to skate in the Olympic trials, then finished eighth while Kerrigan, recovered from her injury, finished second.

All that happened 12 years ago, when Mitchell Cozad was a kid, but he must have figured that it was a good idea and gave it a try. He allegedly attacked the Northern Colorado first string punter, his teammate Rafael Mendoza, outside Mendoza’s apartment, and stabbed him in his kicking leg.

So we have another classic lesson on sportsmanship today, with an additional commentary: Cozad’s lawyer was complaining to the press that his client was being treated unfairly, being left "in limbo" while the investigation continues.

But back to Florida and the mealy-mouthed aftermath of the disgraceful battle of the brutes. The president of the University of Miami is Donna Shalala, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration.

Ms. Shalala told the press she would not throw the player kicking people in the head off the team. She agreed with a one game suspension, while Florida International tossed two of their players out of school and suspended more than a dozen others indefinitely.

This is the same Donna Shalala who, while in Washington, said, "We certainly do not know all of the factors that have contributed to creating what many citizens — young and old alike — view as our culture of violence”¦every citizen must assume a measure of responsibility for helping to reduce and prevent youth violence"

Including, first and foremost, Donna Shalala. What a sham and disappointment.