Naval Academy football players have suffered worse. Midshipman Earl Wilson lost his life after attempting an awkward tackle of a Villanova player in 1909 and Jonas Howard Ingram survived the Battle of Veracruz a few years later to win a Medal of Honor.
But have they ever seen anything like Roderic Blunt?
On December 30, referees ejected the Middle Tennessee linebacker from Fort Worth’s Armed Forces Bowl after several indiscretions that violated NCAA rules and perhaps the Geneva Convention, as well.
Blunt’s aggressive play elicited two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The second one, called on a late hit in the fourth quarter, resulted in an automatic ejection. However, it was a foul caught by ESPN’s cameras but not the NCAA zebras that has provoked outrage.
Roderic Blunt went Moe Howard on the floor of Amon G. Carter Stadium, conscripting Keenan Reynolds to unwittingly play Curly in his impromptu revival of The Three Stooges.
In the third quarter, Blunt’s fingers invaded Keenan Reynolds’s facemask, poking the quarterback’s eyes following a tackle. The Midshipman missed three plays waiting for a plastic visor to be installed in his mask and fumbled immediately upon his return to play. The eye-poke poor sportsmanship ultimately did little to alter the outcome: Navy 24, Middle Tennessee 6.
“I’m not going to back down one bit,” head coach Rick Stockstill maintained after the game. “We had something to prove. I thought our defense was very, very physical and tough. I loved how they played.”
But less than 24 hours later, Stockstill has backed down quite a bit.
“After seeing the replay of the game, I saw things that I was unable to see live from the sideline,” Stockstill announced in a prepared statement. “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.”
Blunt issued an apology, which failed to live up to his name the way his play did, noting that the contest was his last as a collegian and that his emotions ran high. The linebacker’s uncontrolled energy was apparently contagious. One Middle Tennessee defensive back, for instance, received a taunting penalty after strangely whooping it up in front of Navy’s sideline after the Midshipmen had won a new set of downs.
“I have strived to run a first-class program and I do not condone this type of play,” Stockstill declared. “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.”