Friday September 18th, 2015

The family and supporters of a New Jersey high school football player said on Thursday his swinging of a helmet at an opponent was an accident.

In a game between Immaculata High School and Linden High School last Friday night at Linden’s Tiger Stadium, a Linden defensive lineman was caught on camera in the second quarter striking an Immaculata offensive lineman in the head with his helmet after the Linden player had wrestled it off him.

The Linden player was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, but played the duration of the game, which Immaculata won 26–6.

The Immaculata offensive lineman was taken out of the game before halftime and sent to a hospital, where he received 10 stitches for a cut on his head, according to MyCentralJersey.com.

The video of the incident, posted by Barstoolsports.com and embedded below, went viral on Tuesday morning and prompted an investigation by Linden police. On Thursday, Linden police Capt. James Sarnicki said the department had concluded its investigation and submitted its findings to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutor’s office will determine whether to charge the Linden player with a crime.

The Linden player’s mother, Anita McDuffy, said at a news conference on Thursday that her son was suspended for 10 days—a longer suspension, she said, than the initial two-day suspension that was increased after the story became national news.

From the Associated Press:

“He really is apologetic about this. He said his hand got stuck in the helmet. I believe in my child,” McDuffy told reporters at a news conference Thursday. “If it was so bad, which it was a bad incident, they should have taken him out of the game. They allowed him to play the third and fourth quarter. He apologized to the student.”

Immaculata also said it received an apology from Linden school officials, according to the AP.

Salaam Ismial, director of the United Youth Council in Elizabeth, N.J., called the news conference and said players from both teams had been “battling all game,” according to the AP.

“Things like this happen in football. He didn’t go up to hurt this kid. They were two bulls tangling,” Ismial said.

Mike Fiammetta

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.