The Texas football referee blindsided by two players during a game last week, through his attorney, vehemently denied allegations that he directed racial slurs at the players during the game.
Alan Goldberger, an attorney for referee Robert Watts, said players were “flat-out lying” about Watts’ using racial slurs.
“This is a very common tactic to make the victim of a crime responsible for the crime against them ... commonly used in officiating situations,” Goldberger said.
Watts was allegedly intentionally hit by two players during a game between John Jay and Marble Falls high schools in Texas. The two John Jay High School players have been suspended by the Northside Independent School District, pending investigations by the police and the district.
The players have said the referee had directed racial slurs at them earlier in the game. Officials say they are not releasing the players' names because they are minors.
Watts is considering taking his own legal action against the players, his lawyer said.
“They were old enough. They are not in day care,” Goldberger said of the accused students. “These were not 2-year-olds. They knew full well that somebody may have been hurt.”
Athletic officials investigating the incident say they’re concerned that the “culture” on the football team could have had a negative influence.
“There seems to be some incidents as reported by the officials that the behavior of the sideline and the players in the game could signal that there is a cultural issue,” University Interscholastic League Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said.
Despite the incident, Watts wants to continue officiating, Goldberger said. Watts has been a game official for 14 years and was recently nominated for president of the Austin chapter of the Texas Association of Sports Officials.
ESPN.com contributed to this report.