Georgia coach Mark Richt said the entire Bulldog Nation can take a lesson from the news than none of his players were involved in the March 28 incident when four men allegedly threatened and hit a married couple as they returned in a taxi from a downtown Athens bar.
"I'm just glad it all came out and that none of our guys were a problem. The only gentleman involved with it was a peacemaker, is I guess the best word for it," Richt said following practice Tuesday. "The thing that's hard to take is all the time that all the speculation and everyone just assuming that it was our guys and assuming they would do these things. That's the thing about the Internet, police reports and all that kind of thing. It's hard for anybody to really know what the reality is but your mind starts racing assuming things that may or may not be true."
Monday, Athens-Clarke County police did confirm that a member of the Bulldog football program was in the vehicle, but acted as a peacemaker during the incident and tried to keep the alleged series of events from taking place.
"One football player was in the taxi, but the investigation revealed he acted as a peacemaker and tried to calm the situation," police said in the statement. "The other males have been identified as residents of Heard County and warrants are pending."
The statement said additional information will be released when warrants are issued.
Richt declined to identify the player present in the cab, saying "I'm sure it will come out sooner or later.
Actually, it already has.
UGASports was the first to confirm through three sources speaking on condition of anonymity that the player in the taxi who tried to defuse the situation was backup running back Dontavius Jackson, who starred at Heard County High.
"When you asked me about it I didn't want to under-react, I didn't want to over-react because I really didn't know," Richt said. "Even me, as a coach, I could have assumed that thing was true and get all bent out of shape, make myself crazy. Then again, you don't want to act like there's not a possibility that it could be, so you don't want to under-react."
Richt hates to think what would have happened had the investigation dragged out any longer than it did.
"Let's say it took another week or two," he said. "Who knows how much longer people would be forming their opinions on our guys when in fact they weren't involved in that?"
Richt was asked if he felt any personal vindication for the outcome.
"I was more thankful. I just think, I just hope that the all the time as everybody spent reporting that, that they will spend as much time reporting it was not our guys and that somebody was trying to help out some people that needed help," Richt said. "I just hope in the future people reserve their opinions and their posts or whatever they might have and just wait till they find what the information is before they start throwing stones."
Richt did not indicate that the player (Jackson) would be subject to any discipline based on being at the scene.
But based on Richt's reaction, it does not appear that will be the case.
"The bottom line was the only thing he did was try to make a bad situation better," he said. "He didn't do anything, when you talk about what happened in that cab, he did nothing what I would hope our guys would do, try to defuse a situation."
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