Now that the investigation is nearly complete, it’s imperative to talk about the now infamous “tripgate” that occurred last Sunday during a game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. As the Dolphins punted the ball and ran to tackle the returner, Santonio Holmes, the Jets strength and conditioning coach, Sal Alosi, ordered some inactive players and personnel to form a ‘wall’ along the edge of the sideline, so that the gunner of the Miami Dolphins, Nolan Carrol, wouldn’t have a lot of space to run down the sideline to chase Holmes. In addition to forming the ‘wall,’ Alosi, stuck out his knee and tripped Carrol as he passed by. Fortunately, Carrol was not severely injured and continued to play. For his inappropriate conduct, Alosi was suspended indefinitely.
The ‘cheap shot’ that Alosi took on Carrol is simply inexcusable. There is no place for that type of conduct in any professional setting. Unfortunately, sports fans are witnesses to numerous ‘cheap shots’ on any given Sunday. For example, after hitting the quarterback, a Defensive lineman will lay on him for a couple extra seconds to cause him some additional pain; a player will elbow others in the ‘dogpile,’ and a safety will lay out a wide receiver as he makes a catch instead of making a simple tackle. Looking at Alosi’s actions in the proper context shows that he is just one of many that ignore the ethical rules of the game. Alosi’s conduct, however, is getting more attention and criticism than others do because this has never really happened before in a professional game, and, more importantly, because he is a coach. And coaches, as I have mentioned before, must teach their players proper moral values, in addition to teaching them how to win ball games. This coach did everything but teach his players about professionalism.
Nevertheless, I initially thought that Alosi deserved our forgiveness after he did an admirable job of owning up to his mistake. He immediately took full responsibility for his actions and reached out to the victim and the coaching staff of the Dolphins to apologize. He apologized again, the following day, and stated that he was ready to accept the punishment for his actions. At the time, his honesty and integrity reminded me of Judah, who accepted responsibility in public for his inappropriate relationship with his daughter-in-law Tamar. I began to think of him as a person that should be emulated for his courage to publicly accept and regret his actions. I almost wrote an article about his impressive behavior! However, after the Jets completed their full investigation of the incident, it became clear that Alosi was not being as honest and sincere as I thought he was.
Alosi only admitted to tripping Nolan Carrol, but not any other unsportsmanlike conduct. What the Jets discovered was that Alosi had also ordered a ‘wall’ to be formed to make it more difficult for Carrol. As a result they gave him a harsher punishment. Initially, Alosi was suspended for the rest of the season, but this revelation earned him and indefinite suspension. His reluctance to tell the complete truth about his actions indicates that his apology was incomplete and insincere. As a result, I believe that Alosi should be fired for the damage that he has caused the team and the organization. Had he been completely honest and upfront about the entirety of his wrongdoings, I would have felt a bit more compassion. At this point I don’t think that he deserves another chance with the Jets.
There is still one important question left to discuss which will, probably, remain a mystery forever. Is it really possible that Head coach Rex Ryan had no involvement in this? I find it hard to believe that a strength and conditioning coach can wield so much power and influence on the sidelines. Gregg Doyel, of CbsSports fame, has written an interesting article about Rex Ryan and other Head coaches who hide behind their assistants when something goes awry and then throw them under the buss when they may get into trouble.
At the end of the day, whether the blame lay with the Head or the Assistant coach is irrelevant. Every coach has an obligation to teach and preach moral values, professionalism, and sportsman-like conduct to their players. If a coach can’t do that, he or she should find another profession.