Florida Gators Football

Brandon Spikes Ups His NFL Draft Stock with His Eye Gouge in SEC Play

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 31:  Brandon Spikes #51 and Duke Lemmens #44 of the Florida Gators tackle Washaun Ealey #24 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on October 31, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Tom KesslerCorrespondent INovember 3, 2009

If another defensive player had eye-gouged Tim Tebow like Brandon Spikes did to Washaun Ealey on Saturday, the offender would require a lifetime secret service contingent.

 

The perpetrator would have a huge suspension. Gator fans would want blood.

 

But this happened to Washaun Ealey, not Tim Tebow.

 

And instead of calling for blood, many Georgia fans want Mark Richt’s head.

 

But they’ll settle for Willie Martinez’s job.

 

The most unsettling thing about witnessing this event on TV was how naked the aggression was. We weren’t watching a football player stick his hand inside an opponent’s facemask; we saw a cold-blooded shark attack defenseless prey.

 

Raw. Naked. Base.

Brazen and vicious.

Pure angry violence.

 

While the gouge was an aggravated battery by societies standards, it was not even a flag in this year’s penalty-challenged SEC.

 

In Dan Wetzel’s column, he asserts that Florida’s timid treatment of Spikes transgression demonstrates a lack of leadership by Urban Meyer.   Wetzel writes, “For the act, Meyer will bench his star linebacker for the first half of the Gators’ game against Vanderbilt. Repeat: One half. That penalty isn’t a joke, although the man dishing it out is acting like one.”

Urban Meyer is not to blame for this one. Meyer suspended Spikes for half of the Vanderbilt game, with the NCAA’s blessing. He did this proactively, with the full approval of the NCAA.

If you’re going to get upset with the penalty, get upset at the NCAA. And if you’re going find fault with the eye-gouge, then it’s about time to ban the game of football. Because eye gouging, finger breaking and other unmentionables occur in the pileup after a play is whistled dead.

We just happened to see this one for ourselves.

Next time you’re watching a game, count how many players have eye shields on their helmets. They’re not wearing the shields because it improves their peripheral vision. They’re wearing them because it improves their vision, because opposing players cannot eye gouge them so easily

Does this make it right?

How can you answer that if you’re not a football player playing at a high level like the big boys of the SEC. Or the ACC. Or the Big East. Or at Harvard. Or Holy Cross High School.

Eye gouging happens. It’s one reason mothers dither when deciding whether to allow their sons to play football.

How did the NCAA come to accept the suspension handed down by Urban Meyer? Perhaps the fact that Washaun Ealey wasn’t injured helped. Maybe the NCAA knows this sort of behavior is as common in the sport as crashes are at NASCAR.

The reason that writers, and others are so upset with Brandon Spikes is because they don’t play football. If an editor reached over their cubicle and eye-gouged a columnist, charges would be pressed, lawsuits would be filed, and big money would be awarded.

But in football, this action is like a columnist taking a bottle of white out from their editor’s desk, and forgetting to put it back. Big whoop.

NFL personnel men say Brandon Spikes is a perfect middle linebacker. Tough, nasty, and mean. And his eye gouge of Washaun Ealey may have been the best business decision he’s ever made, as he’s dramatically increased his draft stock for this April’s NFL draft.

At least he’s not dog fighting.

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