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Another view: Hit heard around the world was justified

Tackling, detaining shirtless man was the right call
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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The power of the internet as a mass medium is quite amazing — especially when you get to watch it firsthand.

On Friday night at Colfax High School, I was one of a couple thousand people to witness Troy Minton-Sander’s tackle of a shirtless man who should have been flagged for a delay of game and indecent exposure at the Hillmen-Falcons football contest.

Since then the man has been called nearly every name in the book: from a goon to a high school bro jacked up to a plumber crack football streaker and even his real name Patrick Hurley of Colfax.

By the power of the internet, the incident went viral and more than 100,000 people were able to witness what Placer defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes dubbed the “hit of the year.”

And that’s no exaggeration, coming from the 6-foot-4, 305-pound sack machine Vanderdoes.

You’ve all probably seen it by now, but what you probably don’t know is how it all started.

The Hillmen had the ball and were up by 10 against their foothill rival with a third-and-inches looming in the second quarter. Out of the middle of nowhere — which some have described as the forest behind Marson Stadium — Hurley came on to the field. He looked dazed and confused.

For some odd reason, he decided to pick up the pigskin after he poured a clear liquid onto the Falcons’ field. He would later be charged for being drunk in public.

It was only a matter of seconds before Minton-Sander, a former Hillmen who works as a lieutenant for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and has a son on the team, drove Hurley to the ground. Opinions of whether Minton-Sander’s actions were right — which they were due to safety precautions of a potential mad man on the gridiron — have now flooded messages boards and YouTube comments.

It’s ironic to think that with Superstorm Sandy wrecking havoc across the East Coast, thousands of people from sea to shining sea have been tuned into a little incident in the even littler town of Colfax (population 2,011).

Days before the video of Minton-Sander’s tackle went viral, the hit heard around the world was being called live on KAHI radio, which was the first to break the news.

I was standing — Colfax High has no seats for the media — next to 950 AM’s Pete Dufour as he called the action. A second or two later, I grabbed my cellphone and started tweeting away on the home side of the field.

Within minutes, my followers informed me that man behind the rugby-ish tackle was Minton-Sander. I showed Dufour the messages, but we were asked not to release the name on the radio out of fear of retaliation.

Meanwhile on the other side of the field, the Hillmen fans knew it was Minton-Sander all along — they were screaming his and Stone’s name from the get-go. I know all of this to be true, of course, because Eddie Vanderdoes’ dad, Eddie Vanderdoes, captured the whole thing on his smartphone and posted it to Facebook.

Once I saw the Facebook video on Saturday afternoon, I knew what I had to do. Vanderdoes gave me permission to embed his video onto the auburnjournal.com and I started writing a small piece on the situation from home before coming into the office.

Luckily my co-worker, Gloria Young, was able to get in touch with the Sheriff’s Office shortly after I got to the newsroom to obtain the name of the shirtless man, which many bloggers attributed to our sister newspaper, The Colfax Record.

The story gained some popularity on our website, picking up some 2,000 hits by Monday night. Had Vanderdoes been equipped with a superb camera in the visiting team’s stands, it’s likely the story would have exploded on our site before it ever got to YouTube.

Meanwhile, I was in San Diego visiting my sister over the weekend. The entire time I was tracking the story, waiting for it to get to the masses as a former colleague correctly predicted it would. Somewhere along this whole process, Steve Montoya, executive editor of MaxPreps.com and the brother of Placer coach Joey Montoya, told me he had captured a much better angle from the sidelines.

What an understatement.

Montoya released his video on YouTube around 8 p.m. Monday night and blocked people from embedding it. Shortly after my return flight to Sacramento had been cancelled. So I kept searching the interwebs, knowing this made-for-the-internet incident was going to blow up.

Hours later it had spread to Deadspin and even Forbes.com.

By Tuesday Yahoo, USA Today and area TV stations were also doing some coverage.

Various people even ripped Montoya’s video, so they could embed it into their website and collect YouTube hits and web hits.

As more stories and blogs came out, more and more obscene comments started to emerge. And even worst — from a journalist’s standpoint — the facts were becoming extremely erroneous.

One site called Hurley, a tall man in his mid-20s, a drunk teenager who was having too much fun at a high school football game. Another site was so off on its facts that it had Colfax winning the game, which we all know the undefeated Hillmen won by a 24-7 margin.  

What’s even worse is that some of the people commenting on the stories say what Minton-Sander and the rest of the group of men did to subdue Hurley was wrong. Sure, one man appears to be taking a cheap shot or two at Hurley’s leg.

But in a bizarre situation like that, where a shirtless man is wondering around on the playing field on a night when everybody in the stands was wearing winter clothes, nobody could have known what his intentions were.

It was better to be safe than sorry.

For all we know the shirtless man could have made something explode much quicker than the time it took his story to go nationwide. 

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel