It may be the best 15 yards the Vol football team has ever surrendered.
I’m referring to the 15-yard penalty assessed to UT defensive back Rashaan Gaulden for unsportsmanlike conduct following a Vols interception return for a TD Saturday against Alabama. If you’re going to cost your team 15 yards, this is the way to do it.
For those who haven’t seen the play, Gaulden darted into the endzone following the interception return and, from point-blank range, gave the Alabama student section the middle finger -- with both hands. It had to be an especially gratifying moment.
Unfortunately, especially gratifying moments can have their consequences and Gaulden said he realized his mistake as soon as he got back to the UT sideline. After the game, he apologized to both UT and Alabama for what he called a disrespectful and out-of-character gesture.
“That’s not how my parents raised me,” said Gaulden. “That’s not how a leader of the team should show their emotion on the field.”
I agree completely.
Despite my quips at the start of this column, I think the entire world of sports, from basketball to ice hockey, needs to take a long look at itself and come to the conclusion we’re taking all these games entirely too seriously. This applies to players, coaches and the many foul-mouthed fans.
This past weekend in college football is a prime example. In addition to Gualden’s middle-finger antics, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher exchanged words with an angry fan after the Seminoles lost to Louisville.
Staying in the Sunshine State, Florida coach Jim McElwain claims his family and some Gator players have received death threats in the midst of his team’s 3-3 season.
“The hard part is, obviously, when the threats are against your own players,” McElwain reportedly told the Tampa Bay Times. “Death threats to your families. The ill-will that’s brought upon out there.”
Stadiums are becoming increasingly toxic environments filled with hate. Washington Redskins RB Chris Thompson admitted he didn’t bring his family to Philadelphia to watch Monday Night Football because the Philly fans are so rude and unpleasant.
Sports, once intended to be a happy diversion, have become so much more extreme. Sure I’m disappointed with the way the Vols are playing, but I don’t want harm to come to Butch Jones and his family.
Perhaps it’s time for that chill pill I’ve been hearing about for so many years.