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Broad Run's Peeler reinstated

Broad Run running back T.J. Peeler's one-game suspension was overturned and the senior was reinstated by the Virginia High School League on Thursday following an appeal by the school and a joint decision involving the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association and the principals of both Broad Run and Potomac Falls, the Spartans' opponent last Friday night.

One of the top running backs in the D.C. area, Peeler was suspended after receiving two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties early in the first quarter of the third-ranked Spartans' 47-7 win over Potomac Falls.

In accordance with VHSL rules, Peeler was ejected from the game for receiving the two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and was suspended for the Spartans next game, a Virginia AA Region II semifinal on Nov. 20.

Speaking for the first time about the celebrations and suspension, Peeler said he was "just happy that I get to play" in the playoff opener.

"Definitely you just want to move forward," Peeler said. "Forget about it, put it in the past and just play the game you've got next."

After scoring on a 63-yard touchdown run, Peeler, who has verbally committed to play for Pittsburgh, was flagged for chest-bumping a teammate in the back of the end zone. During the run, Peeler also raised his finger for 10 yards, signaling "No. 1," and clapped the football twice after scoring. Peeler's first penalty was called minutes earlier for a chest-bump on the Broad Run sideline after a teammate scored on a two-point conversion.

The calls were two of four penalties thrown on Broad Run for excessive celebration in the first six minutes of the contest. Two other incidents in which other Broad Run players celebrated with chest-bumps -- on or near the Spartans sideline -- also drew flags.

The calls spotlighted a stricter emphasis on excessive celebration calls by officials and area coaches questioned whether some seemingly innocuous celebrations, such as chest-bumps or pointing up at the sky, should fall under those restrictions.

"After reviewing everything and talking with the crew, basically our association has a [standard] what we're going to call excessive celebration and we don’t think, we're not talking about the second penalty everyone knows the second was excessive and [had] taunting, but the first one it was not that excessive, it was just an excitement type thing," said Dennis Hall, commissioner of the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association. "Not just that one, probably the first two [penalties called on Broad Run] shouldn’t have been called. They weren’t excessive, demonstrative or aimed at the other team. … We thought it was the right thing to do with the penalty."

Broad Run, the defending Virginia AA Division 4 champions, appealed the penalties on the grounds that the two chest-bumps were not excessive and did not taunt the opposing team, nor involve an extended individual action.

Spartans' Coach Mike Burnett said the program has always emphasized celebrating together and not at the detriment to the opposition, and that though he felt the players handled the situation the right way, there may still be something learned from the experience.

"That's the most interesting question, is what is learned from this," Broad Run Coach Mike Burnett said. "We still will stand by what we think is right for our kids, which is that we want to celebrate life with each other and we want to celebrate the moment and never be demeaning of another player. Certainly what we'll learn is we'll re-evaluate whether we can be interpreted as doing that, and we can get better, we can get better as far as a team making it clear we're celebrating with each other. But in the end we support our kids and that's why I'm so happy they came to the result they did."

Peeler, who is third in the area with 1,616 yards and 18 touchdowns on 179 carries, said the incident probably will remain in the back of his mind when he plays next – and definitely will impact the way he celebrates.

"I'll just probably just not do any chest-bumps," Peeler said, smiling. "Probably just do a thumbs up or something like that, I don’t know, that's what my coaches told me to do. Thumbs up sounds better anyways."

By Paul Tenorio  |  November 5, 2009; 11:09 AM ET
Categories:  AA Dulles , Broad Run , Football , Region II , VHSL  
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Good to see they are doing the right thing. I hope they spread the word on proper interpretation of the excessive celebration rule to all officials.

Posted by: KurtProctor | November 5, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Was this the right thing? Sounds like preferential treatment to me.

Posted by: Fantheflames | November 5, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"I talked with the referee yesterday and the whole crew, and the thing is we want to do what's right," Hall said. "They judged it on what they saw at that point in time in the game. They're on the field, they know what's going on. I can't condemn them for it because it's not the wrong call because at that point in time it's what they felt was right."

So, let me get this right - Incorrect calls don't exist as long as the officials feel they made the correct call at the time? That's some pretty spotty logic. If the commissioner can't condemn the officials for the call then why was the player's suspension rescinded? Doesn't lifting the suspension imply that the officials were in error by making the calls? The official's association's response to this incident is confusing, at best, but not at all surprising. As a football coach in the area, I found the association's response to be typical.

Posted by: footballcoach9 | November 5, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse


"Doesn't lifting the suspension imply that the officials were in error by making the calls?"

Probably not. The decision has nothing to do with rules or judgment. Just a committee second-guessing and trying to find any reason to keep a marquee player on the field. I doubt the decision would have gone this way for a second-stringer.

Posted by: Fantheflames | November 5, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The league, the referees and all those people who want to penalize athletes for excessive celebration are idiots who probably never even played a game of badminton. Yes, there are fools who go to the extreme to promote themselves but they are in the minority. Do these idiots understand what it's like for a kid to score a touchdown or a goal, the excitement it brings doing it before the student body, friends and parents. Get off their backs, relax and pull your draws out of you know where

Posted by: renegade2 | November 5, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse


Since I have seen the videos from two different sources multiple times...and it's clear this was mishandled from the very beginning...what is the basis for your accusations? Were you there? Have you seen the video? Are you even from the Northern Virginia area?

Posted by: hphokie | November 5, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse


Yes I've seen the videos. Yes I'm from NoVa, Yes I've played football and I've rung up a few TDs. In fact, I've probably have seen more football than you have in your lifetime. Mishandled on the field? Not as badly as a committee making a judgment call 150 miles and six days away.

Posted by: Fantheflames | November 5, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

You can take the boy out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of the boy.

Posted by: Jmacaco4 | November 5, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

I have talked to a couple kids and parents who were there and I was at the game the previous week.

While chestbumping is what is cited, because that's easy to say "a kid shouldn't get flagged for chestbumping" in fact the run down the field with a hand raised, holding the ball out of the end zone (all seen on the video) were very excessive and demeaning to the other team.

People who were there also reported that Peeler and team were also dunking the ball over the goal posts, verbally taunting the other team, and being fairly poor sports.

From what the coaches are quoted, it sounds like this excessive celebration starts at the top.

Posted by: TuscaroraBob | November 7, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

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