Did Chris Samuels Try To Hurt Mathias Kiwanuka?

Craig Garrison SrSenior Analyst ISeptember 6, 2008

New York Giants' defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka has accused Washington Redskins' left tackle Chris Samuels of a "dirty play."

While Samuels was obviously guilty of holding on the play, and a flag was thrown, the accusation of the play being an attempt to injure Kiwanuka is ridiculous. Unfortunately for Samuels, the way the story has been handled by the general "press" has propagated an inaccurate picture of the play.

For anyone that did not see the play, and for the many who would prefer to have "an axe to grind" against the Redskins (not just Giants' fans, by the way), the description of the play by AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan, a well-respected writer, paints a picture of a fairly obvious attempt to injure Kiwanuka.

The facts of the video simply do not support his description, however.

From the article:

"Replays showed that Kiwanuka beat Samuel to the outside on a pass rush and started moving toward Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell in the waning seconds of the Giants' 16-7 victory." entirely accurate


"Samuels quickly turned and made a low, lunging tackle, wrapping his arms around Kiwanuka's legs. His upper torso pinned Kiwanuka's left ankle." not entirely accurate

The first thing that struck me about this portion of the article was the claim of "wrapping his arms around Kiwanuka's legs," which I didn't remember seeing. So I decided to take a closer look at the play, to see if I had simply missed it or if it actually happened that way.

As it turns out, it didn't really happen that way.

Samuels' right arm doesn't wrap around Kiwanuka's legs, not even one of his legs. In fact, even his left arm, which is the arm he used to attempt to hook Kiwanuka's waist, doesn't wrap around Kiwanuka's legs either.

The "lunging tackle" part is a bit questionable as well. Samuels was beat on the play, and was off balance and out of position, while trying to "hook" Kiwanuka around the waist with his left arm, Samuels extended his upper body outside his "center," causing him to lose his balance and fall forward.

Unfortunately for Kiwanuka, his left foot struck Samuels' left knee, as he attempted to continue his path around Samuels, causing him to fall forward, with Samuels falling on top of Kiwanuka's left foot (hard to tell if Samuels' right shoulder actually makes contact with Kiwanuka's right foot).

I decided to write this for several reasons, including the fact that I consider Chris Samuels to be a quality human being and don't think he would do what he is being accused of. But I also consider it important to present such things with as much accuracy as possible. And I don't think Tom Canavan did that.

With the Associated Press being what it is, Mr. Canavan's story was picked by thousands of papers and Internet outlets. Some published his story in its entirety, while some only used excerpts, which made the presentation even worse. Even the NFL published his article, as is.


Certainly different people will choose to interpret what they see differently. Ask 10 witnesses of the same accident from the same physical position to describe the accident and you will get at least five different descriptions.

But as journalists, and particularly an AP writer, who is supposedly unbiased, accuracy is of paramount importance. Mr. Canavan could have described the play accurately, and then offered his own interpretation rather than describing the play in such a way as to support the "meat" of his article, the accusation itself.

Was this an effort to gain readership? Create controversy when it might not really exist? I don't know what Mr Canavan was thinking, I only know he didn't portray the incident accurately.

For anyone who would like to dispute the "facts" of the play as I described them, here is the play:

All comments are welcome.