Within minutes of the announced suspension of Jalen Tabor and Cyontai Lewis for what head coach Jim McElwain deemed ‘behavior that is not acceptable’, I already had a couple of renditions of what happened between the two. Needless to say, neither was pretty and either would have led to McElwain’s full statement on the issue which is as follows.
"Both Cyontai and Jalen will not be involved with the team or practice due to behavior that is not acceptable,” McElwain said. “By no means are these bad guys and yet consequences have been handed down. We will not look the other way when it comes to breaking of team policies. I want to echo what I said earlier, these are both fine young men who will learn and be stronger from their actions. They will also be suspended for the first game. There are life lessons in everything we do. We will be better because of it and no one person is bigger than the Florida Gators."
True to form McElwain didn’t describe any incident so we can only find out second or third hand what went on. With that, you have to be very careful not to put too much stock into any one thing that you hear.
You can be assured that the two were involved in an altercation with each other. You can be assured that the altercation went way beyond the normal practice fracases that happen. Beyond that, we should just understand that this was a heated moment where things just got away from two teammates that have been on the up-and-up for a good while now.
Tabor will grab more of the headlines here because he is everyone’s All-American in 2016 and has been suspended for a game before. Lewis however is also a big part of what the team is trying to do on offense and missing time for him is not a good thing.
A lot of coaches will do a lot of different things when fights happen, and when they get really bad, there are usually stiffer consequences. You rarely see game suspensions for them, which does say how serious the matter was, and at the same time, it says how serious McElwain is about his team being teammates and not stepping over the line.
As much as this is a punishment, there is an example being made. These guys have to realize that there is a threshold that can’t be crossed. Fights happen a lot, but whatever it was that happened is not the norm, nor can it continue to happen.
Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, well after the suspension was announced, Tabor and his mother took to Twitter about the incident. Tabor while sounding surprised about the punishment in one tweet, did say he respected the decision.
As mothers do, Ms. Tabor defended her son with regard to the incident.
By now, I have heard a few different scenarios about how things went down. This isn’t a time to call anyone out on what happened, more so we should realize that this is pretty normal situation on a football team that just plain got out of hand. McElwain was put in a tough situation here, but he made the only one that could be made.
The team has to come first. Hurting your brother only hurts the team. The rest of them now know there is a line that is drawn, and they better not cross that line.