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My Life As A Buffalo Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt feels under siege

March 08, 2004
March 08, 2004

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March 8, 2004

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My Life As A Buffalo Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt feels under siege

It's been A tough few weeks to be a Colorado football player. The
other day in economics class I overheard a student say, "The
football players are nothing but thugs. They get a free ride and
they embarrass the school." A couple days later I was on campus
when two guys on bikes rode by and screamed, "I hate
f------ football players." The entire team got an anonymous e-mail
that said, "I hope you are proud of yourself. Look what you have
done. I hope you burn in hell." I get anonymous messages on my
cellphone, people saying, "You f------ people are ruining the
University of Colorado. I'll never watch CU play again."

This is an article from the March 8, 2004 issue Original Layout

That hurts. I grew up in Colorado rooting for the Buffs. I love
CU.

I understand that people are upset. This is serious business. But
I also believe people ought to think about who they're cursing.
Most players weren't even here in 2001, when the sex party
allegedly occurred. Except for what I've seen in the media, I've
never heard of any such parties, and neither has anyone I've
talked to. The recruiting weekends I know about are nothing
special. I hosted a recruit in 2002. We went to a couple of
parties, stood around and went home at 1 a.m., for team curfew.
It was really boring. And yet people judge and generalize, and
every day we face so much anger--especially the black players.
Boulder is not a diverse place. Some of the accusers have
described their assailants as "big and black." This college is
supposed to be liberal, but black players are shunned more than
the rest of us. That's wrong.

The worst thing is that the people who are reacting this way
don't know about the program. Every season Coach Barnett had
meetings with us about alcohol use and how to interact properly
with women. He would control us every hour of every day if he
could. But we're college students; we go to parties. Things can
happen that no coach could be responsible for.

For now I keep to myself as much as possible. I used to get
involved in classroom discussions, but I don't anymore for fear
the talk will come back to the football team. My teammates and I
are in the middle of winter conditioning. Some days we'll walk
out after lifting and see 100 media people. We just brace
ourselves for the next allegation and try to get away. Things are
real bad now, but eventually people will have to look at the
facts. When they do, I hope they'll judge us fairly.

COLOR PHOTO: TIM DEFRISCO (KLATT SITTING)COLOR PHOTO: BRIAN BAHR/GETTY IMAGES (KLATT RUNNING)