Last week’s play-by-play at a seventh-grade football game in small-town Ohio became a source of controversy after a high school student announcing the contest said “he’s got that getting-away-from-the-cops speed” to describe a particularly impressive gridiron gain.
The kerfuffle occurred on Thursday. The excited 15-year-old student announcer was mimicking a description originally uttered by sportscaster Gus Johnson, reports the Sandusky Register.
The seventh-grader who ran the ball during the play is of Haitian descent. The Register does not mention the 15-year-old kid’s ancestral background.
After the incident, the unnamed announcer received a number of threats, both in person and on Facebook, prompting his parents to file a report with the Erie County Sheriff.
Deputies are reviewing the case.
Meanwhile, school officials decided to punish the student announcer in some unspecified way.
“We worked with the student, and we hope this is a learning experience,” Margaretta Local School District superintendent Ed Kurt told the Register. “We want to move forward in a positive fashion.”
The kid’s parents told deputies from the Erie County Sheriff that their son learned to say “he’s got that getting-away-from-the-cops speed” by playing the perennially popular Madden NFL videogame. They said the phrase is part of the game and “very popular” with the game’s aficionados.
Johnson originally used the description live on CBS on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009.
“Watch out! He’s got gettin’-away-from-the-cops speed,” Johnson said, as Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson tore off a 52-yard touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After the game and a torrent of criticism, Johnson issued an apology, according to USA Today.
“If there is a perception of racism in this analogy, it is not coming from me,” the legendary announcer said. “People of all races have run from the law. However, to those who are offended, I apologize.”
Bleacher Report has acclaimed Johnson’s notorious play-by-play description as #10 on its list of the “Top 10 most awesome TV calls in NFL history.”
Incidentally, Johnson also boasts the #1 call on the Bleacher Report list—a touchdown by Brandon Stokley of the Denver Broncos. “STOKLEY! DOWN THE SIDELINE! CAN HE CATCH HIM? STOKLEY! WOW!!”