The Washington Post

John Thompson Jr. calls Mike Rice behavior ‘incomprehensible’

By Mitchell Layton.
(Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)


There was some talk that Mike Rice’s much-replayed behavior at Rutgers was “old-school,” in the sense that it used to happen regularly when men were men and coaches were lunatics.

Chipper Jones, of course, was one of the biggest proponents of this view.



If there’s a D.C. standard bearer for old school — aside from Davey Johnson, anyhow — it would probably be John Thompson Jr. And let me tell you, John Thompson served with old-school. John Thompson knew old school. Old school was a friend of his. Mike Rice, you’re not old school. More or less.

“That thing transcended sports, period,” Thompson told his old co-hosts on ESPN 980 Friday afternoon. “I had never in my life seen anything like that on such a consistent basis. The thing that puzzled me more than anything is that the kids permitted him to do it. I said to my son [JTIII] that I don’t know that I’d want to coach a kid that would let somebody do that to them, because [that’s] not about physical toughness or anything else. You go home, you tell your parents, or your tell the coach, I’m sorry, this is beyond.

“And then you’ve got a staff that’s sitting there watching. I mean, stop and think about that, man. Somebody should have jumped up and said to coach, I don’t want to be here if you’re gonna do this. It’s just mind-boggling. They have the nerve to say that this is old-school. I hate to tell you: I played basketball when I was 12, 13 years old. I never saw anybody do anything like that to any kid. To me, nobody ever did that. And I used to always say that I’m not gonna put my hand on anybody’s child; nobody damn sure better not put their hands on mine. So I definitely had never seen anything like that. It’s incomprehensible to me.”

Brian Mitchell said people had also suggested to him that surely he saw similar things on a football field growing up.

“I’ve never seen it happen, and it damn sure didn’t happen to me,” Mitchell said. “If they put their hands on me….I would have Sprewelled him, point blank.”

“When my son John came to me and he said pops did you see the Rutgers thing, …you just think maybe a coach got mad at a kid and went beyond and made a mistake,” Thompson continued. “And I’m lying in the bed and I see this? I sat up and I couldn’t believe it. I said boy, this man’s got different clothing on, this thing happened in different places, and he constantly did it.

“But I resented most of all when they make it sound like this is what goes on with coaches,” Thompson said. “That is the biggest lie. Even physical education teachers — who were at times very aggressive when you were in junior high — I never saw anything done like that. EVER. And I just could not understand how he had those kids intimidated. See, we’re not talking about kids — we’re talking about college men. Those kids, they’re eligible to go to war, and they sat there and let that happen? That is phenomenal to me that that could happen like that. Really. I just didn’t understand it.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.



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