If something about the report that the assault on Montee Ball was "unprovoked" didn't quite pass the smell test to you, well, the Madison police are starting to agree.
As the Wisconsin State Journal reports, the police are looking for a "precipitating event"—and according to a witness, the assailants might be targeting several other Badgers:
Madison police said they believe a “precipitating event” led to the attack early Wednesday on University of Wisconsin senior running back Montee Ball, who will miss next week’s start of the preseason football camp after suffering a concussion.
Central District Capt. Carl Gloede said Thursday police were still trying to find out what that incident was, when and where it happened, what Ball’s involvement might have been, and whether other football players were involved.
A witness to the attack on Ball by five men at about 2:15 a.m. in the 500 block of University Avenue said one of the assailants said something like, “One down, nine to go,” Gloede said, suggesting others might have been targeted.
This, by the way, doesn't mean that TMZ's unattributed report—the one that said Ball was involved in a prior fight—is correct. As a matter of fact, the Madison police specifically refute it, saying that "what they’re describing is not what we’re looking at."
And just so there's no ambiguity about the alleged statements by the attackers, one witness specifically attached it to football players:
UW-Madison student Luke Will, who witnessed the attack, said he heard one of the attackers say, “something along the lines of ‘nine more football players to go.’”
“They said that two or three times and they just kept running,” Will said, adding that the attackers were also uttering profanities. “But that line is what really stuck out to me.”
This shouldn't be a major cause for concern for the Badgers and their fans. It's not like there are seriously going to be nine more assaults, one by one, of various players without anybody figuring out what's going on.
This isn't Hollywood. The police are on this, and doubtlessly so is the football program. If something's up involving several other players, it'll be known soon enough.
All that said, the fact remains that there are five unidentified assailants at large who just beat the hell out of the Big Ten's best tailback and evidently want a big piece of some other players, and until this situation's resolved, that's something the rest of the team has to account for going forward.
It's kind of a big deal.
Also, if I'm the student that witnessed the attack, there is no damn way I'm letting the paper print my name. You're a brave man, Luke Will.