-- John Jay High School assistant coach Mack Breed has resigned, according to a statement released by his attorney.
Breed was accused of directing two players to blindside an official during a Sept. 4 game. Breed was supposed to appear this morning before a meeting of the University Interscholastic League in Round Rock, Texas, but now will not speak before the governing body of Texas high school sports.
Outside the Lines reported earlier this week that Breed admitted to the school principal that he ordered the players to strike the official out of anger. Breed told his principal the official was using racist language and had made a series of bad calls.
Breed's attorney, James Reeves, said in a statement Thursday that the controversy should not rest solely at his client's feet.
"Some people are unfairly blaming one man, Mack Breed, for everything that happened at that game," Reeves said. "Mack Breed has spent three agonizing weeks contemplating his future since the fateful football game in which two players struck a referee. It has been a difficult road for Mack as he has stood silently watching the spectacle. He has replayed that game in his mind many times wondering how it all went wrong."
Breed's resignation comes a day after the two players, 15-year-old Victor Rojas and 17-year-old Michael Moreno, were told they would be eligible to return to their school for the spring semester, the players' lawyer told ESPN on Wednesday. The decision came after individual hearings were held by the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio.
The players' attorney, Jesse Hernandez, released a statement late Thursday, calling the statement released by Reeves "a desperate act of self preservation."
"We are shocked and disappointed by the press release Mack Breed and his attorney published today," Hernandez's statement begins. "In a desperate act of self preservation Breed continues to reveal his character as he disgracefully attempts to throw a student under the bus for following the very directions Breed gave him. The record is clear that Mack Breed admitted to Coach Gutierrez and Principal Harris that he did in fact direct student-athletes to hit referee Watts. Breed later followed up his admission with a written statement to Principal Harris, confirming that he directed student-athletes to hit the referee.
"We believe these facts speak clearly enough that no further comment is necessary at this time."
On Sept. 4, Rojas and Moreno blindsided official Robert Watts late in the fourth quarter of a game in Marble Falls, Texas, on a deliberate tackle from behind. The incident was captured on video and has nearly 11 million views on YouTube.
Watts did not testify at the hearing, and neither did the players. Watts released a statement Thursday denying he used racist remarks of any kind.
"Since the night of September 4, 2015, I have learned that players and possibly coaches from John Jay High School, among others, have said that during the game, I used racial slurs and insults against John Jay High School players," Watts' statement read. "I did not do that."
Watts also revealed in his statement that he suffered several injuries from the hit, the most serious of which is a concussion.
According to a sideline source and the accounts provided to Outside the Lines of four John Jay players, Watts used the N-word twice during the game, once before and once after the players hit him, and also used language offensive to Hispanics.
"As a black male, nothing offended Mack Breed more than being called a racial epithet except someone in a position of authority calling his players racial epithets," Reeves' statement read. "The slur was heard by multiple players, some of whom were not involved in the hit. A few plays after being called a '[N-word],' Moses Reynolds found himself being ejected by Watts for throwing a punch. However, the game film clearly shows that Reynolds was the recipient of multiple punches from an opposing white player who was not ejected."
John Jay players were frustrated that no Marble Falls players were ejected during the physical contest, which included two John Jay touchdowns nullified by penalties. John Jay is predominantly a minority school. Marble Falls High School, which hosted the game, is a predominantly white school northwest of Austin, Texas.
"The atmosphere on the sideline was a powder keg due to the news of the racial comments spreading among the players while the players watched their black teammates being ejected," Reeves said in the statement. "A JJHS coach (not Coach Breed) was flagged for yelling at the referees about the racial comments. Succumbing to the racially charged atmosphere, Coach Breed let his anger get the best of him, and he made some regrettable comments. Witnesses can't agree on what the comments were, but they were interpreted by two players to mean 'hit the referee.' The witnesses agree that Breed never explicitly told them to hit the referee except for Michael Moreno, whose story continues to evolve."
Moreno and Watts appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" last Friday, and Moreno said Breed took the two players aside and ordered them to hit Watts. Moreno said Breed had grown angry after Watts used racist language and ejected John Jay's starting quarterback earlier in the game.
"Right before I was going to the field, he pulled me and Trenton to the side and told us, 'You need to hit that m-----f-----,'" Moreno said.
"He was like, 'You need to hit him. You need to make him pay the price,'" Moreno added.
"During his media tour, Michael Moreno resorted to the historical defense of 'I was just following orders.' However, we are all responsible for our own actions, and his defense will fail in this situation as it has failed in the past," Reeves said in the statement. "Moreno paints himself as a saint on television while withholding the truth that shows how out of control he was in that game. Moreno fails to mention that he was not ejected after striking the referee. He stood by while an innocent black player, Trenton Hobdy, was wrongfully ejected for Moreno's hit on the referee. Moreno followed the hit on Watts by committing another flagrant foul on the very next play. The Marble Falls High School quarterback kneeled in a victory formation, the whistle was blown, and then Moreno hit the kneeling quarterback. His behavior is exactly what one would expect from a rogue player blaming a coach for the player's actions."
Reeves said that while others are at fault for what happened on Sept. 4, Breed too has accepted responsibility for his actions and is ready to move on.
"In hindsight, Mack feels that he could have handled the situation better," Reeves' statement said. "For that reason, Mack has submitted his resignation and will move forward taking responsibility for his role in the events that occurred. Mack never intended for the kids to hit or hurt the referee, but the result was the same. While Mack is moving forward, others have yet to accept responsibility for their roles."