He was arrested for what?
Antonio Morrison was arrested for barking at an Alachua County Sheriff Department’s K-9 on Sunday morning and quickly became the laughing stock of college sports.
Morrison isn’t the joke here. The arrest was a joke. The Alachua County Sheriff believes as much. Sheriff Sadie Darnell said the arresting deputy should have issued the University of Florida linebacker a warning instead of placing him under arrest.
The following suspension is a bigger joke. While this is Morrison’s second off-field incident of the season, this is hardly an incident. This is silliness followed by an overreaction. By issuing a two-game suspension, Will Muschamp and the University of Florida Athletic Department are compounding overreactions.
Getting handcuffed in public was punishment enough. Being taken to jail was punishment enough. Being humiliated by the Internet is punishment enough.
Arresting Deputy William Arnold told a pleading Morrison after the arrest, “Let me simply explain something to you. I’ve been listening to you for a few minutes, and here’s the problem I got with this, all right? My dog is watching my back and their back. Stop talking. When you walk up to the window and say something to him, you distract him if I need him. So if I open my door remotely with this push button, he’s coming out to you and not to me when I need him. That’s the end of the story. That’s interfering, harassment and teasing a police dog while he’s engaged in his duty. That’s what you’re being arrested for, all right?”
That is a great explanation. It really is. Arnold should have pulled Morrison aside and said, “Hey dummy”, then rolled off that exact same speech. Mission accomplished.
Sheriff Darnell called the arrest a split-second decision during chaos. Chaos? Come on. Is having five deputies arrest the guy barking at a dog the best way to handle chaos? It was a mistake. They’ve admitted it. In fact, the charges were dropped today.
The arrest was a mistake but the suspension is even bigger mistake. Morrison’s suspension had less to do with his own actions and more to do with the actions of Aaron Hernandez.
Hernandez, a former Florida Gator tight end, is currently awaiting trial for murder. After his arrest, stories started circulating that painted Hernandez as violent and under-punished while playing under Urban Meyer. As a result, Meyer and the university have caught heat, and Muschamp has portrayed himself as the strict disciplinarian in contrast to the win at any cost Meyer. At SEC Media Days Muschamp said coaches are “100% responsible” for off-field behavior of their players.
So when Morrison gets arrested for barking at a dog, Muschamp has to prove he’s true to his word and that he’s not Urban Meyer. He has to be the coach who prevents Florida players from sliding down that slippery slope that starts with barking at dogs and eventually ends in murder. So instead of saying, “This whole thing is ridiculous. Antonio’s been punished enough”, Muschamp doubles down on the dopiness and issues Morrison a two-game suspension.
This entire situation is dumb, but if you rank actions from least dumb to dumbest it would go, 1. Barking at dog. 2. Arresting person for dumbly barking at dog. 3. Suspending player two games for being dumbly arrested for barking at a dog.
When I heard about the arrest, I assumed there was more to it than simply barking at a police dog. It turns out there was less. The video of the arrest and the admission of the Sheriff said as much. Now that the charges have been dropped, Muschamp needs end the silliness and remove the suspension.
Photo Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports