Two San Antonio high school students continue to shift the blame for their attack of a football referee to anyone but themselves. They claim the ref slung racial slurs at teammates and that a coach ordered them to hit the official.
Breitbart TV reported that John Jay High School football players Victor Rojas and Michael Moreno appeared on Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos on Friday to try and explain their actions. “That video is so shocking, to so many people,” Stephanopoulos said while opening the interview. He asked the students what was going through their minds.
Moreno repeatedly said, “I just did what I was told,” referring to alleged instructions from assistant coach Mack Breed. That coach has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, Breitbart Texas previously reported.
“The coach pulled me and another player and told us, ‘You need to hit the ref. He needs to pay the price,’” Moreno said responding to Stephanopoulos’ question. “You know, you put your trust into this grown-up, a guardian, your coach who’s been there, for me, since my sophomore or freshman year and I trust him that he wants the best for me and I just did what I was told.”
Stephanopoulos asked Moreno if that was said directly to him or if another player had told him to do this. Moreno confirmed he heard it directly. Both boys also confirmed they heard repeated racial comments from the referee.
Rojas said that he heard the coach’s instructions third-hand. “A player came over to me and said that the coach told him.”
Moreno clearly understood that what he was about to do was wrong. “When it was all happening, I realized the gravity of the situation,” Moreno explained. “I couldn’t fully go through with it. At the end, I pulled up a lot.” He said it was hard for him to do it.
“To this day, I regret it,” Moreno said. “It’s one of my biggest regrets. It’s been affecting my life greatly.”
The video of the football game shows Victor Rojas targeting referee Robert Watts, striking him in the middle of the back and knocking him to the ground. Moreno then dove, helmet first, onto Watts’ back. A player from the other team can be seen coming to the referee’s defense, but he arrived too late to stop the attack.
Both players said they heard Watts making racial comments. Rojas told Stephanopoulos he heard Watts tell one of his Hispanic friends, “Speak English, this is America.” He said he heard that comment directly. He said he also heard Watts use the “N-word” directed at one of his African-American teammates. “I heard him when he called Moses Reynolds the ‘n-word,’” Moreno added.
ABC News asked Watts’s attorney, Alan Goldberger, if he used a racial slur on that field at any point during the game. “Mr. Watts? He did not,” Goldberger firmly responded. “They are flat out lies,” he said of the players’ accusations.
“I wouldn’t lie about this situation,” Moreno responded to Goldberger’s accusation. “With how bad it’s gotten, the truth needs to be told.”
Responding a question about what should happen to them, Moreno said, “You can’t do that because of something you were told.”
“I’m ready to face my consequences,” he admitted. “I am greatly sorry for this, and I regret it greatly. And I just hope people can change their minds about us and lighten up our consequences.”
“I would apologize [to Watts] for the mistake that I made,” Rojas added.
The conduct of the students, the coach, and the referee remain under investigation by school officials. The students could also face criminal prosecution for the alleged assault.
Moreno and Rojas received three days suspension from school and spent a week in an alternative school. The two are also excluded from playing football for the remainder of the season. “I think that’s enough,” the boys’ attorney Jesse Hernandez said when asked about an appropriate punishment. “They’ve apologized, they’re sorry, they didn’t mean to do this. I think they’ve been punished enough.”
Bob Price serves as senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.