Maegle predicted exactly what Alosi would say in his defense: that he was not thinking, that he made a mistake, that it took place in the moment. Maegle knew this because something similar happened to him in the 1954 Cotton Bowl, and when he watched the replay of Alosi’s gross misconduct, the memories came rushing back.
“People don’t understand,” said Maegle, 76, who changed the spelling of his name from Moegle to make it phonetically correct. “It’s not funny. When someone blindsides you like that, you could be injured for life. That’s why they put the chalk lines on the field. To keep your butt behind them.”
After spending Monday afternoon engaged in damage control, an art they have practiced with relatively high frequency this season, the Jets punished Alosi. They suspended Alosi without pay for the remainder of this season, including any possible playoff games, and fined him $25,000. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum said he did not expect further discipline from the
“We take full responsibility,” Tannenbaum said. “We’re going to hold Sal accountable for his actions.”
Alosi said, “I accept responsibility for my actions and respect the team’s decision.”
When asked if the Jets would fire Alosi, Tannenbaum said: “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. We felt it was the appropriate action to take.”
Alosi became perhaps the first strength coach in league history to draw national attention in season on a Monday — for the wrong reason.He offered another mea culpa from behind the lectern, apologized to Miami cornerback Nolan Carroll and labeled his behavior inexcusable and irresponsible. He added, “You’re asking me to give you a logical explanation for an illogical act.”
Maegle, the victim of another illogical act, had firm ideas on Alosi’s punishment.
“I don’t think they can allow him back on the field for the remainder of the season and maybe the next,” he said before the suspension was announced. “The player didn’t get hurt, but who’s to say he wouldn’t? I’d also fine him.”
In 1954, Maegle played running back for Rice. In the Cotton Bowl against Alabama, with Rice ahead in the second quarter, 7-6, he broke free around right end, juked the future quarterback Bart Starr and dashed up what looked like an open sideline.
At least until an Alabama player named Tommy Lewis ran onto the field and tackled Maegle, who finished with 265 rushing yards, a game record at the time, in Rice’s 28-6 triumph. Lewis, Maegle said, appeared to recognize the magnitude of his mistake instantly, as he sat at the end of the bench and dropped his head into his hands.
Soon afterward, Ed Sullivan invited both players to Manhattan to appear on his television show. Maegle went, against his wishes, because Rice wanted the publicity, and he flew on propeller planes from Dallas to Atlanta to Washington to New York.
Maegle said Lewis had apologized after the Cotton Bowl, with tears streaming down his face. Lewis seemed “convivial, nice and polite,” and “very Southern.” Maegle said Lewis told him that he was “so full of Alabama,” he could not stand to watch Maegle score again.
But that went only so far. After the show, Sullivan told Maegle he had booked the two players a single room at the Waldorf Astoria. Maegle requested and received not only separate rooms, but rooms on separate floors.
“I could have ended my career in a wheelchair,” Maegle said. “I had accepted his apology, but who knows? He might have had a nightmare and thrown me out the window.”
The took similar issue with Alosi’s actions after he tripped Carroll, who was covering a punt return in the third quarter. Carroll limped to his sideline but later returned. He told reporters the trip “was not important,” but linebackers Channing Crowder and Karlos Dansby disagreed. Crowder told reporters, “I would have gotten up and broken the old man’s leg” and said it spoke “to the character of the Jets.”
The notion surfaced Monday that the Dolphins’ punt-return gunners had continually run up the Jets’ sideline, out of bounds, and perhaps Alosi and others had been instructed to stand closer to the field, acting like a barricade. Alosi and Jets Coach denied that.
On Monday afternoon, Alosi, a former Hofstra linebacker in his second stint with the Jets, called the Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson; Miami Coach Tony Sparano; and Tannenbaum. Alosi apologized to Carroll at the stadium on Sunday night. Ryan said he “admired” that Alosi had taken responsibility, but added, “I was stunned that something like this actually took place.”
Alosi took more responsibility than the Jets’ players did for their two-game losing streak. During the hour of news-media availability, only 8 of 53 players answered questions.
And Ryan continued to answer for his team’s lack of discipline, or renegade persona, and he was asked if Alosi’s trip counted as the latest example in a growing body of evidence of bad behavior. Ryan disagreed, calling such reasoning unfortunate.
The Jets have three games to right their season, but the incident is likely to stick to Alosi for far longer. Lewis told The San Antonio Express-News in 2003 that “anyone who knows me, and all of my old teammates, would never dare bring it up.”
“They know that play devastated me,” he said, “and I still have to live with it. I can’t take it away.”