#ItMightMeanTooMuch: Florida man does Florida man thing and a fatal Alabama-LSU fight
I like to keep things light here.
This column was really meant as a way of sort of poking fun at the craziness that is the SEC fan. We can all agree that it’s a different breed of fanatic, and sometimes, that gets taken to the extreme.
Consider that my way of prefacing that I don’t treat adding a flag to a statue to be the same degree of #ItMightMeanTooMuch as the two stories I’m going to share today. I realize that it’s November, which is an angsty time of the college football season, but that’s by no means an excuse to commit crimes of violence. Hopefully, me shedding some light on that will serve as a reminder of what should be common knowledge.
So yeah, we’re gonna get a little heavy here today.
Let’s start with the heavier of the two stories. We know that last weekend’s Alabama-LSU game created one of the most hostile atmospheres we’ve seen in recent memory. It’s natural that a pair of top-three teams would have some animosity, given the Tide’s winning streak and the fact that it was more of the same on Saturday night.
After the game, Ponchatoula Police were called to the scene after an altercation took place at a Ponchatoula, La. bar early on Sunday morning. According to The Advocate, LSU fans Azia Crockett, 27, and Ryan Anthony, 24, were arrested on felony manslaughter charges after knocking 46-year-old Alabama fan Robert Bowers unconscious.
That was the result of Anthony punching Bowers in the head, which dropped the victim to the ground. According to police, Crockett then punched Bowers multiple times while he was on the ground.
After spending two days on life support, Bowers died on Tuesday.
The Advocate reported that the incident began as a verbal argument over the Alabama-LSU game, though witnesses weren’t able to identify what specifically it was about.
Here’s the excerpt from The Advocate:
Ponchatoula Police Chief Bry Layrisson said Wednesday that investigators were still trying to determine what led to the fight between the Alabama fan and two LSU fans.
Layrisson said an issue involving Bowers’ niece arose at the bar, and she was ejected by bouncers shortly before the physical altercation began.
“She was too intoxicated that night for us to get her side of the story,” Layrisson said. “Until we can talk to the niece, we really won’t know what the actual argument was about.”
And here was the confirmation about the arrests from the Ponchatoula Police Department:
Just in case that didn’t give you enough of a pit in your stomach, Anthony (right) was actually married hours before the incident occurred.
Here’s some real talk for everyone who gets heated after a loss. It’s gonna be okay.
I realize that’s easy for me to say as someone who’s a neutral observer. Trust me, though. I’ve been there. I can still recall the time in college when I soberly chucked a wooden baseball bat at our tree from our front porch after the Chicago Bulls were eliminated by the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals (I broke the bat in half).
Not to get too preachy here, but we, myself included, can all do a better job of not taking out our post-loss anger on anything or anyone. Obviously there are more extreme cases than others. If you’re an LSU fan and you’re not at least a little grumpy after a letdown like that, I’d question how human you are.
But man, as much as I love having fun with the wackiness of SEC fandom, seeing this stuff stinks on so many levels. That’s definitely not the first case of an incident like this, and sadly, it won’t be the last.
Florida Man has burning passion for the Gators
Let’s move on to something that’s very near and dear to my heart, because I am indeed a Florida transplant. I knew about “Florida Man” before I moved down to the Sunshine State, and my interest in those stories has only increased in the three years that I’ve lived here.
So naturally, when I see the headline “Police: Man burns football flag on car because he’s not a fan of the Gators,” I’m clicking on that story 10 times out of 10. That was what occurred in Tallahassee on Sunday night, according to WTXL.
Just read the lede of the WTXL story:
A Tallahassee man was arrested after admitting he set fire to a Florida Gators window flag on a stranger’s vehicle because he’s a Hurricane fan.
According to court documents, on Sunday around 8:33 p.m. police responded to a call of a disturbance in progress. When they arrived, the victim told officers that the suspect, Iran Walters, had left the scene.
The victim told officers that as she was walking to her car, she saw Walters randomly lighting her car on fire, so she screamed at him and he immediately ran off.
Can you imagine watching someone light your car on fire because of the team you root for? Goodness. This wasn’t even after a championship riot or anything like that. Given how things have gone for the Power 5 schools in Florida this year, we know there won’t be any of those anytime soon.
Oh, and that’s the other thing. This occurred between a Florida fan and a Miami fan … in Tallahassee. Florida State is so bad this year that even the crimes in its own city involve fans of different teams. Sheesh.
Still, though. Why did this happen? While the fan bases obviously don’t like each other, the teams haven’t met in five years (they’ll kick off the 2019 season against each other in Orlando). Apparently some wounds are just deeper than others.
According to the WTXL report, the police report showed that Walters set fire to the Gators flag that was on the vehicle because he said he’s not a Gator, he’s a Hurricane, and doesn’t “give a d*** about the Gators.”
I don’t know. That seems … harsh. I don’t give a you-know-what about a lot of things. That doesn’t mean I want someone burning a flag of that thing on my car to try to get me to give a you-know-what.
Maybe next time, Florida Man could go with something a little bit less aggressive. Perhaps a Power Point presentation outlining the reasons why a Hurricanes fan should switch to the Gators would be effective. Maybe a strongly worded letter would do the trick.
Or, I don’t know. Just spitballing here. Maybe we just accept the fact that we live in a country that gives us freedom to root for whomever we want, and that’s a pretty great thing.
In conclusion, ‘MERICA.