Michael Moreno and Victor Rojas, the two John Jay High School football players who made national headlines when they intentionally tackled a referee, spoke publicly for the first time on Good Morning America Friday. The two students were joined by their lawyer Jesse Hernandez for an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.
Moreno and Rojas were suspended from school and are barred from playing football for the remainder of the season. Multiple entities, including NISD, University Interscholastic League and the Marble Falls Police Department have investigated the incident, and the players may still face criminal charges. The two students are due at a NISD hearing next Wednesday to determine their punishment. They face the possibility of alternative school or expulsion.
During the interview Moreno and Rojas expressed remorse for their actions and maintained they were just doing as they were told by John Jay Assistant Coach Mack Breed.
"He told me — and I quote— 'You need to hit him,'" Moreno said referring to Breed. "He pulled me and another player and told us, 'You need to hit the ref. He needs to pay the price.'"
Moreno said Breed believed the referee, identified as Robert Watts, was showing bias against Jay during the game. The students also continued to accuse Watts of using racial slurs directed at Jay football players. Rojas said he heard Watts allegedly tell a Latino player to "speak english; this is America" Moreno added that he heard Watts allegedly use the N-word to refer to a black player. NISD plans to file a formal complaint against Watts.
Watts adamantly denies he used racially charged language during the game. His attorney previously told ABC News that Watts may take legal action against the players.
When asked what consequences would be appropriate, Hernandez said Moreno and Rojas have already been sufficiently punished
"I think they've paid the appropriate punishment already," Hernandez said. "They suffered through three days of suspension. They've been in alternative school for a week. They're excluded from playing football for the rest of the season. I think that's enough. They've apologized. They're sorry. They didn't mean to do this."
The two say they regret their actions and understand what they did was wrong.
“Everyone sees me as this thug or this gangster, I did this because I’m this bad guy … that’s not who I am,” said Moreno. “Underneath the helmet and the pads, I’m a great kid.”