September 28, 2012
If you thought the bounty scandal involving the New Orleans Saints which came to light in the past NFL off-season was salacious in nature, then you absolutely won’t believe what is being alleged of a children’s football team’s coaching staff out in Orange County, California …
Yep, according to the Associated Press, head coach for the Tustin Pee Wee Red Cobras, Darren Crawford, and team president Pat Galentine have been suspended while Pop Warner officials at the national level investigate and rule on whether or not players for the Red Cobras – all 10 to 11 years of age – were offered cash in return for knocking out opponents Tustin faced on the playing field in 2011 – the same year in which the team advanced to the Pop Warner Super Bowl and finished with a 12-1 record.
The investigation comes in direct response to a complaint lodged by parents of some of the children who faced off against the Red Cobras last year maintaining that Craword and then-assistant coach, Richard Bowman, offered team members cash for big hits and knocking opposing players out of playoff games on at least three separate occasions.
Reports the Orange County Register, players were offered between $20 and $50 for hits that resulted in an opposing player being knocked out of a game.
One boy, playing for the Santa Margarita Stallions, is purported to have left a match up against the Red Cobras because of a mild concussion, while another former assistant coach for Tustin, John Zanelli, confirms the Tustin player who knocked the aforementioned of the contest was rewarded with cash.
“This kid speared him. Hit him right in the head,” the father of the Santa Margarita Stallions has said.
Crawford, Bowman and Galentine, of course, have all denied that cash was handed out for big hits, and point to an investigation conducted earlier this year by Orange Empire conference commissioner, Bobby Espinosa, that concluded there was no evidence suggesting a bounty program was ever in affect for the Red Cobras.
Crawford has previously suggested the allegations against him were made by “disgruntled” parents who forced their children to lie, noting the only money he ever game to one of his players was “to go to the snack bar.”
Meanwhile, Gallentine, in an email sent Thursday to Tustin Pop Warner board members, comments, “The singular focus of our board continues to be the safety and well-being of our kids and the continued success of TPW.”
Galentine also urged support of Red Cobras players who “have been placed in the crossfire of this issue by no choice of their own.”
Both Galentine and Bowman have been suspended by the national offices of Pop Warner football, with Executive Director Jon Butler telling USA Today, “In light of new information and players coming forward who did not participate in the league investigation, National Pop Warner will intervene to further investigate the alleged bounty program in Tustin Pop Warner.”
“We will assign a local designee who is not affiliated with the association to lead the investigation,” Butler continues, “and will work closely with the Wescon Region and Orange Empire Conference to ensure the safety of our participants and the integrity of the Pop Warner program. We take this matter very seriously and have asked Tustin Pop Warned Head Coach Darren Crawford and Tustin President Pat Galentine to step down until this situation is finalized.”