When one man purposely sticks his finger and/or fingers into the eyes of another man on a football field — or any other field, really — apologies are usually in order. Tuesday, the mea culpas were flowing following an incident in a bowl game earlier this week.
During the course of Navy’s Armed Forces Bowl win over Middle Tennessee State Monday, MTSU linebacker Roderic Blunt was caught by the wonders of modern technology gouging the eye of Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Blunt was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, his second such penalty of the game and resulted in an ejection.
In statements sent out through the Blue Raiders’ sports information department, Blunt apologized “most importantly” to Reynolds for his actions while MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said he does “not condone this type of play.” Stockstill took the public apology a step further, saying that he has personally called “Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, quarterback Keenan Reynolds, and Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, and apologized for Roderic Blunt’s actions.”
As Blunt is a senior and has played his last game as a Blue Raider, there will be no individual punitive measures stemming from the incident.
Here are the statements from the two, with Blunt’s appearing first:
“I would like to apologize to my team, coaching staff, Navy, and most importantly, Keenan Reynolds for my actions Monday. I accept responsibility and the consequences of my actions. It was my last college game and emotions were at an all-time high. But there is still no excuse for my actions and know this is not a reflection of Blue Raider football.”
“After seeing the replay of the game, I saw things that I was unable to see live from the sideline. I have called Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo, quarterback Keenan Reynolds, and Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, and apologized for Roderic Blunt’s actions.
“I have strived to run a first-class program and I do not condone this type of play. We have shown a history of good sportsmanship and, this season, we ranked as the ninth-least penalized team in the country. We were called for just one defensive personal foul penalty prior to the bowl game.
“I understand the game of football and what goes on out on the field, but there is no place for that type of behavior. It was a very emotional game for both sides, played with a lot of passion and sometimes players get caught up in that emotion. However, the bottom line is we hold ourselves to high standards and we expect our players to be good representatives of our university.
“Roderic knows the consequences of his actions. As head coach, I will take steps to ensure our team understands the importance of proper behavior and the conduct we expect as Blue Raiders.”