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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Update from Kessler and update about Rutgers


Before I start on my sports rant of the day, I wanted to give everyone an update on my medical condition. I’m still a patient at Kessler Rehabilitation Institute in West Orange, with this being day 11 of my stay.

And I can wholeheartedly say that I am improving with every passing day. I’m getting a lot of the strength and mobility back again in my right leg. My left leg is almost 100 percent and my right leg was at 43 percent the other day in a stationary bicycle machine. I’m doing anything and everything that the wonderful staff here at Kessler tells me to do. I have yet to miss a therapy session and listening to my great pair of physical therapists, namely Marissa (mornings) and Ivana (afternoons), and what they’re telling me to do.

I again am amazed at the strength and dedication of the fellow patients here, most of whom have conditions that are far worse than mine. There’s a woman, a quadriplegic, who is full of life and energy. She moves her body to the music that plays and talks of the days when she ran marathons and did triathlons. On Friday, with the assistance of three therapists, she took her first steps since her arrival. Her face beamed like a child on Christmas morning. I applauded as she took her steps.

I have a new roommate and ironically, he’s a Hudson County guy as well. Jeff is from Bayonne and until recently, he was an English teacher at Bayonne High School. A few months ago, Jeff lost use of his legs, almost like me, and couldn’t walk. He’s been back and forth from Bayonne Hospital to Kessler three times since August and is having a real tough time.

I cannot applaud the people of Kessler more, none more than rehabilitation assistant Harold Shaw, who is an absolute gift from God. Harold takes the time to make sure I have what I need. He has to watch while I shower just so I don’t fall. He provides towels, dry floors, clean sheets and more importantly, support. He’s a huge sports fan who somehow has four favorite NFL teams, the Steelers, the Packers, the Texans and the Raiders. He thinks that it’s good to root for four teams. I have a tough time with just the Rams.

So Harold has taken a special liking to me because he knows I’m a sportswriter and wants to spend time talking sports. Friday night, we went through the entire NFL schedule and picked our games, like we were doing Kessler’s version of “Inside the NFL.”

You cannot put a price tag on what Harold has provided for me during my stay here. I don’t know what I would have done without him.

So I’m getting better. There’s still no timetable for my release or when I can get back to my normal routine. But I am improving and that’s a good sign, thanks to the wonderful people of Kessler.


Now, back to the sports world.

It’s absolutely mind boggling that Rutgers is in the headlines once again for another imbecilic incident. You would have thought by now, with all that has transpired over the last two years, that the people on the banks of the old Raritan would have gotten it all down pat.

Yeah, right.

There are reports now of Rutgers assistant football coach and defensive coordinator Dave Cohen verbally abusing, threatening and “bullying” former player Jevon Tyree to the point where Tyree eventually quit the team. Cohen apparently called Tyree homophobic slurs, spit in his face and berated him time and time again.

When Tyree’s family brought the incident to the attention of head football coach Kyle Flood, he assured the family that the incident would be taken care of. The family also wanted to speak with beleaguered athletic director Julie Hermann about the incident.

Saturday, Rutgers released a statement which said that the athletic department was aware of the incident. Here’s the statement:

The situation between Jevon Tyree and Dave Cohen took place in the spring and was dealt with immediately.

Cohen apologized the following day for his participation in the escalation of banter, which resulted in the use of inappropriate language. Kyle Flood reprimanded Cohen and addressed the situation immediately with the entire coaching staff.

This was an isolated incident. At no time was there any threat of physical violence, which was verified by an academic counselor, who was present in the room.

Six months later, Tyree’s father contacted Director of Athletics Julie Hermann to discuss Jevon’s role on the team and how coaching decisions were made. During the conversation with Hermann, Tyree’s father reintroduced the March situation.

Since the situation occurred prior to Hermann’s arrival, she immediately contacted Flood, who apprised her of the situation and how it was addressed.

To be sure, Flood initiated an additional meeting with Tyree and his parents to address their concerns and his future with the team. The following morning, September 17, Tyree informed Flood of his intention to remain with the program.

Hermann spoke to Tyree’s father following the meeting with Flood and confirmed that the matter was resolved to his satisfaction.

There’s only one problem. Tyree’s father told reporter Dan Duggan that he never spoke to Hermann. Ever. He called the statement, “insane.”

“I never talked to her. That is insane,” Tyree’s father  told “My mother has passed and I would put my hand on a stack of Bibles in her goodness. That’s ridiculous that she would even say that. That’s scary.”

So who do we believe? The father of a disgruntled player or the embattled AD, who has lied several times in the past, about that fateful wedding video, about the letter written by her former players at Tennessee and then the claims of athletes being abused at Louisville and Hermann turning a blind eye?

Incredibly, my friend, Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi found Hermann yesterday, asked her a series of questions about the Tyree-Cohen incident and how the school handled it.

Well, Hermann danced around Politi’s questions better than Ginger Rogers and Kirstie Alley. She actually went as far as to say that she actually spoke to “somebody.”

 “Yeah. Somebody – if it’s not him, who calls me and informs me of it?” Hermann told Politi. “Otherwise I wouldn’t know about it. So I’m not trying to call – I’m not trying to use big words like the words he’s using, but I’m informed by him, to my knowledge. If it’s not him, who’s calling me?"

Excuse me??? You have no idea who you’re talking to? This Hermann woman has now swung and missed for the third time. Strike three and you’re out. Well, that’s the case in baseball, but certainly not at Rutgers.

Rutgers also said that Cohen apologized to Tyree the day after the incident took place. However, the family doesn’t say anything about an apology.

There’s no question that the allegations are enough to have Cohen removed as an assistant coach. Hell, the performance of his team’s defense is enough to get him canned. The 52-17 loss to Cincinnati Saturday is proof. The Scarlet Knights were not competitive at all defensively. It also was a case where the Scarlet Knights appeared to quit, which is not a good sign at all.

I am a huge fan of Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood and have been since he was promoted to head coach. I want him to succeed more than any other coach in New Jersey. Flood is a great man, a knowledgeable football man. If given the opportunity, I know Flood would do an incredible job.

But it’s not a good sign when your team is not competitive. They were not competitive against Houston and weren’t competitive against Cincy on Saturday. Maybe the Scarlet Knights can find some internal moxie and mettle to improve and play better over the next few weeks. If not, Flood could lose his job as well.

Hey, Greg Schiano appears headed for the door in Tampa Bay. Maybe this mess called Rutgers would want to bring back that true bastion of truth. Because after all, it’s proven that the athletic boss certainly doesn’t know what the truth means.

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