If you are a high school football player, who happens to be Muslim, who likes the gadget play, and has a respectable .40 time, then resist temptation and don’t take any calls from Hal Mumme. The New Mexico St. University HC and former UK skipper, who proficiently guided the team to a 0-12 mark last season, is being sued by the ACLU on behalf of three former players claiming they were wrongfully excused from the team last fall. The three players–Mu’Ammar Ali, and brothers Anthony and Vincent Thompson(sounds like Muslim tourists to me)–allege that Mumme booted them from the squad because of their Islamic faith. Furthermore, Ali claims that Mumme would have the team recite the Lord’s Prayer before each game (loss), and would frequently question him about the goings ons of Al-Qaida. Now that’s a conversation for the imagination:
Mumme: “Did you talk to Al yet today?”
Ali: “Al, Who’s Al?”
Mumme: “Al-Qaida! Oh, that one never gets old. Now get out of my office before I really blow up on you…or vice versa! Shoot, I’m on a roll today.”
So Hal is kind of in a tight spot here. It’s 2006; sensitivity is at an all time high, and Islamic extremists are the new Commies (= hot button). Unless you enjoy walking on eggshells, it’s best to stay down the middle Hal. From where I sit, I think he has two options, and neither is a fake punt: The first is a natural instinct for any male and was cleverly reiterated by hit artist Shaggy– just say “it wasn’t me.” But Hal, they caught you on the counter. “It wasn’t me.” They even caught you on camera. “It wasn’t me.”…and so on and so forth.
Number two is a little more conniving, but then again, so are thousand dollar checks to Melrose High School: Tell everyone they sucked. Gary Barnett tried it a couple years back at Colorado when he was accused of sexual discrimination after he cut a female kicker, and voi la, he kept his job. But Ali was good. He was the team’s leading rusher in 2004, and could hit the hole with the fervor of the Rashiduns during the great Hijra. So toss that one out.
Instead, Mumme chose option three, which is frequently tried but hardly to beneficial results: Label them “troublemakers” (See Dave Bliss). Ali claims he and the Thompsons were reprimanded for moving their equipment to an unapproved locker, as to find safe haven from the Christian mob, or, the team huddle. (Side note–Mumme had the courage to dismiss the players via voicemail. Nice.)
Good luck Hal. I suggest you start participating in the backpedaling drills with you DB’s, because this is a guaranteed no-win situation. And it would probably be a wise PR move to stop hanging out with Ray Nagin at foot-in-mouth fetish parties. Of course, solid improvement on the field is always a remedy for controversy, so hey, aim for that big 1 win season and hope for the best. Oh, and listen to Cat Stevens. He’s Muslim so you’ll appear cultured and at the same time you’ll be poetically entertained. Glide on the peace train Hal, Glide.