Christopher Smith

Snowball Fight Involving Oregon Players Leads To Police Investigation

Created on Dec. 09, 2013 5:30 PM EST

It seemed simple enough: The Oregon football team, taking advantage of a rare Eugene, Ore., snow, invited the student body to a snowball fight following Friday's weight lifting session.

Though action got fairly intense, according to one report, with outnumbered players, including running backs Byron Marshall and Travis Tyner, taking some good shots, it seemed good-natured. At one point, a player, apparently in humor, screamed, "I'm sorry for Arizona!" referencing the team's disappointing blowout road loss to the Wildcats that cost the Ducks the Pac-12 North title.

Soon, though, a mob mentality took hold as a few non-participants tried to drive through the scene, including this older gentleman. The video is innocent enough — the students clearly weren't out to injure the driver — but they went beyond pelting his car or his person with a few snowballs. It's easy to imagine it getting further out of hand if the man, identified by KATU-TV as former professor Sherwin Simmons, had acted out of anger and attempted to retaliate physically.

Simmons exits his vehicle after students surround it, refusing to let him pass and covering his windshield in snow. As he does so, someone dumps a large container of snow on him and he gets pelted with snowballs.

Now some Oregon players will face discipline. Starting tight end Pharaoh Brown has been suspended for the Alamo Bowl against Texas, according to the Oregon Emerald, and others will face internal punishment.

"On Saturday, I was made aware of an incident that occurred Friday afternoon during the snow day involving multiple Oregon students, including members of the football team," coach Mark Helfrich said in a statement. "The behavior exhibited in the video is completely unacceptable and dangerous. We take this matter very seriously and disciplinary actions have begun."

It's an unfortunate truth that's held for years, but college students and others would be allowed to have more fun, and organize things like this more frequently, if individuals were able to discern the fine line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. What they did wasn't horrible, and Simmons told KATU he won't press charges, but it makes sense for Helfrich to enact some sort of minor punishment for players involved.

"Police hope to determine the identities of those who were throwing snowballs, whether they are UO students and whether their actions constitute a criminal act," the school's dean of students, Paul Shang, said in a statement. "The University of Oregon takes the conduct of its students seriously. Consequences are clear for those whose actions reflect poorly upon the university or violate its standards for student behavior."

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