There seems to be something amiss in Pittsburgh these days. Not even three weeks after being charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct after mauling a man in an art gallery and hurling him through a glass window, Pittsburgh’s 6’4", 260-pound defensive end Jabaal Sheard is back in good standing with the team.
Perhaps I should have said that Sheard was “alleged” to have committed assault, except in this case, it sure doesn’t sound like there’s much mystery over whether he did it. Sheard was caught red-handed by a police officer and ignored both his baton and his commands to stop fighting.
"Sheard refused to listen to my commands to stop fighting," the officer, Garret Brown wrote in an affidavit, "and continued to punch the victim, Edward Parker, in the face and to the body.
"At that time, Sheard then grabbed Parker by the clothing and threw him through the glass front door of the gallery.”
Brown went on to say that Sheard continued to punch him in the face while he was lying on the ground bleeding.
Clearly, this is not the sort of action that should be treated with a light slap to Sheard’s wrist, by the law, or the academic and athletic community that Sheard is a part of at Pittsburgh.
The problem is, ostensibly, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
On Wednesday, a judge reduced the charges to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and Sheard plead guilty. The punishment given to Sheard is simply to pay for his victim’s medical and legal bills, a fee he’ll likely have no trouble covering after the NFL draft in April.
There’s likely no suspension coming down from Pitt head coach, Dave Wannstedt either. ESPN.com’s Big East blogger Brian Bennett’s guess at Sheard’s punishment—“Sheard will continue to face some internal discipline, likely including some extra running and conditioning drills, but it looks like all systems are go for him to start the team's opener at Utah.”
Is college football really this far gone, that a starting defensive lineman can brutally assault a man and throw him through a glass door and receive nothing but a few extra wind sprints as penance to his college and his coach? If this had been a third-stringer, would we even be hearing about this, or would the guilty party have been quietly removed from the team?
Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting that Sheard be dismissed from the Pitt football program, but letting something like this go without even a short suspension just strikes me as absurd. It would be one thing if we were talking about a minor brawl with maybe a punch or two exchanged, but for me at least, throwing someone through a glass door crosses a line.
Maybe that’s just me though, and maybe Dave Wannstedt’s line is more extreme. Either that or perhaps he’s just too worried about capturing that elusive Big East title to worry about little things like this.