Because we currently live in a football world where player safety has never been in more focus under as clear a magnifying glass with as bright a spotlight as ever, it is astounding the Big 12 issued no more than a public scolding to Texas wide receiver Mike Davis for one of the most blatant dirty hits we have laid eyes upon this football season. By failing to take a harsh stance against the Longhorns receiver, the Big 12 is spitting in the face of the safety of the players within the Big 12 and beyond.
The hit in question occurred last Thursday night in the Texas road victory at Iowa State. Davis took aim at the knee or leg of Iowa State defender Deon Broomfield, when it looks visibly clear Broomfield had let up at the end of the play, making him unsuspecting of any contact, let alone a potentially harmful and dirty hit to the leg. Davis was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play but avoided an ejection from the game. After the game Davis defended his tactic on Twitter, apologizing for being taught to play to the whistle. Davis followed that up by stating he does not have a history of being a dirty player (legit) and that he was trying to fulfill his duties on the specific play call. All that may be true, but the visual evidence is difficult to argue. It appears as though Davis locked his eyes on Broomfield and dove at his leg when it was pretty evident the Iowa State defender was not a threat to any Texas player.
I play to the whistle ….. Sorry I was taught that.
— Money Magic Davis jr (@MikeDavis_1) October 4, 2013
Texas head coach Mack Brown defended Davis after the game, but later stepped back from his original defense once the Big 12 chimed in on the incident. I was one of many immediately suggesting Davis should receive some sort of suspension for his chop block on Broomfield. To my surprise, I am still waiting for a suspension to be issued. Instead of taking a stance and issuing a suspension for the dirty hit, the Big 12 instead issued a public reprimand of Davis in the form of a 120-word press release, effectively slapping Davis on the wrist in the middle of the shopping mall food court but still allowing him to watch TV and play video games when he gets home.
“In accord with the Conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct policy, Mr. Davis’ action was in violation of the rule prohibiting physically abusive acts toward an opponent’s team members during a contest,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby through the Big 12 press release issued Saturday. “Given the heightened emphasis on player safety, unnecessary and illegal acts such as this have no place in the game and are unacceptable. Mr. Davis is also put on notice that any future such behavior may result in a more serious penalty, including possible suspension.”
This public reprimand does leave open the door for a potential future suspension for Davis should he attempt a similar block again on another player, but the Big 12 could have taken a significant stand right here by issuing a suspension. Given the video evidence available, that seems justified and delivers a clear message to Davis, Texas and the rest of the Big 12 that this type of play will not be condoned.
Perhaps if the Big 12 had suspended Davis, he would not have had this to say yesterday, according to The Dallas Morning News;
“If we have another run-pass situation, I’d do the same thing,” said the former Skyline standout. “If the DB’s loafing, he deserves to be cut.”
He deserves to be cut. The quote is likely taken out of context, but when a player commits this type of act on the field and appears to be all alone in his defense of the situation, sometimes it is best to accept the consequences and move on while keeping your mouth shut or simply saying what should be said in public and move on. But Davis has been given the freedom to defend his actions because his coach backed him and the Big 12 did almost nothing about it.
I'm not saying Davis is a bad guy, nor am I suggesting he is a malicious player looking for cheap shots every time on the field. He did, after all, tweet he was happy Broomfield was not injured on the play. But this one time he got caught in an unfortunately dirty moment. What if Broomfield had been injured on the play? Would a suspension have been issued then? If so, why should we have to wait for a player to be injured to take a hard stance on this? For this play, Davis should pay more than being on the receiving end of a public statement. The rest of the players in the Big 12 deserve to know the conference has their best interests and safety in mind and this particular incident fails them.