Victor Rojas and Michael Moreno claim they hit Robert Watts after he used racial slurs.
Robert Watts, the referee who was struck by two John Jay High School football players during their game against Marble Falls High School on September 4, said in a written statement to the Marble Falls Police Department that the did not say racial slurs toward John Jay players.
This contradicts the story of the two players who struck Watts, Michael Moreno, 17, and Victor Rojas, 15. They claim that after hearing Watts insult players on their team, former Assistant Coach Mack Breed told them to make Watts "pay the price." Video of the hits has been viewed on YouTube over 11 million times.
Breed allegedly admitted to telling his players to hit Watts, then denied it. He has resigned from John Jay.
Watts gave his official statement to the Marble Falls Police Department on the evening of Wednesday, September 23. In the statement, Watts describes the events which led to two John Jay players tackling him from behind, routine game procedures and the concussion-like symptoms he experienced in the following days.
Here are some of the key passages of Watts’ statement:
The game was fairly chippy from the start. Several penalties on both teams preceded the two John Jay Players tackling Watts:
#11 for John Jay then shoved the ball at me forcefully, hitting me in the solar plexus. This was painful and I grunted in response. I then spotted the ball, but walked over to #11 and told him that if he did that again he would be out of the game. Earlier in the game, he had already been assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct foul by the Referee for disparaging language toward an official. This meant that one more unsportsmanlike and he would automatically be ejected. John Jay #11 said, “What did you say to me?” I responded by telling him again that if he shoved the ball at me like that again he would be out of the game. He waved his hand at me as though to brush me off.
Watts was struck from behind by Rojas and Moreno during the fourth quarter of the game. Watts describes the hits like this:
The initial blow to my body was to my left middle back, left arm and left side. I was knocked to the ground and hit my head on the ground. I was then hit from behind a second time, which forced my head into the ground again. I could feel the hit on my back and the right side of my body.
I stood up and threw my flag, knowing that neither hit could be by accident. My first comment was to John Jay #12. I asked him, “Why did you hit me?” He started to walk away and did not speak. I said to John Jay #12, “Did you hit me on purpose?” Again, he did not respond. I then turned to John Jay #8, believing that he had hit me. I asked John Jay #7 why he had hit me. His response was, “You were in the way.” He then laughed. Video evidence revealed that the play ended with #7 near me but that #81 was the player who hit me a second time.
On the sideline, John Jay Head Coach Gary Gutierrez told Watts that several players heard Watts saying racial slurs, which Watts denied:
I walked over to the John Jay sideline and told Coach Gutierrez with the Head Linesmen that if any of the officials were touched again the game would be over. Coach Gutierrez said that I should do what I needed to do, but also said that he had three players saying that I had called them “fucking niggers.” I told Coach Gutierrez that I had not done that. While this was going on, there was a John Jay assistant coach, whom I now know to be Mack Breed, standing behind Coach Gutierrez yelling profanities and gesturing angrily at me and also at the other officials.
After the game, Gutierrez told Watts he couldn’t recall the names of his players who had struck him:
I went over to Coach Gutierrez and told him that I needed the names of his players #7, #11 and #12. He told me that he did not know their names. He said the had forgotten them. He wanted to know what my name was. I told him that I had introduced myself twice prior to the game and that we had given him our names on a card prior to the game.
The day after the game, Watts felt dizzy and had headaches. He went to an emergency clinic in Austin, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.
During the next few days, my symptoms continued. I tried to work, but got little done. I recall having some short term memory loss, feeling feverish, having hot flashes and sweating. My left knee ached. My left ear rang for a time. By Thursday, September 15, 2015, the nausea was really bad. I had been having a hard time finding a neurologist that could get me in quickly.
Watts’ symptoms continue. He maintains that he never used racial slurs toward any of the John Jay players:
Both of the hits I took from behind were painful to receive and it was also painful when I struck the field both times. Since then, I have had continual headaches, chest pain and sensitivity to light, and the other symptoms as described above which have also been painful. My symptoms are continuing and I do not know what ultimately will happen.
Since the night of September 4, 2015, I have learned that players and possibly coaches from John Jay High School, among others, have said that during the game, I used racial slurs and insults against John Jay High School players. I did not do that.
Watts' full statement is available below: