High School Football Player Penalized For Tribute To Dead Friend
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - A high school football player's tribute to a deceased friend in last Friday's season opener may have cost his team the game. After Louisville High School receiver Alex Schooley scored the go-ahead touchdown to put his team up 26-24 with 1:15 left in the game against Walsh Jesuit in Ohio, he pointed to the sky as a tribute to a close friend who died in a car accident last week.
The referee, however, threw a flag after in the middle of the gesture and penalized Schooley for excessive celebration, giving Walsh Jesuit excellent field position. They drove down the field and scored a 29-yard field goal to win the game.
According to Cleveland's WJW-TV, many in Louisville thought the call was inappropriate. But Assistant Ohio High School Athletic Association Commissioner Henry Zaborniak said the correct call was made because "any prolonged gesture that draws attention to himself is a foul."
He made "a simple gesture to heaven," a grandparent of a Louisville player told the Associated Press.
In the NFL, players have also been fined or prevented from paying tribute to friends and loved ones who they have lost.
In 2008, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark etched the number 21 in his eye black as a tribute to the late Sean Taylor, his former teammate when Clark was a Washington Redskin. The league fined him $5,000.
After Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry passed away, then-teammate Chad Ochocinco planned on wearing his jersey as a tribute. But the league rules prohibit it and wouldn't let the NFL Players Association reimburse him for any fine that he would have received.
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