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."
November 5, 2009; 11:09 AM ET
Categories: AA Dulles , Broad Run , Football , Region II , VHSL
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