A Japanese college football player has apologized for the late hit he made on an opposing player and said he did so on the instruction of his coach.
Nihon University defensive end Taisuke Miyagawa went after Kwansei Gakuin quarterback Kousei Okuno early in a game between the schools on May 6. Okuno rolls to his right in the video below and you can see Miyagawa take nearly 10 steps to make the hit after Okuno released the ball.
Okuno suffered a lower-back injury and Miyagawa was ejected from the game after multiple personal fouls. Okuno is expected to be out for approximately three weeks.
Why did the hit happen?
The story has become such a big one in Japan that Miyagawa read a statement in front of assembled media on Tuesday. Look at the gathering of media folks.
According to the Japan Times, Miyagawa said he felt pressured to injure Okuno by his assistant coach via an order from the team’s head coach Masato Uchida. Miyagawa had lost his place in the starting lineup and was trying to get it back. He said assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue told him he needed to change what he was doing if he wanted to play again.
Miyagawa, who continued to not be allowed to be to practice on May 5, said that Inoue suggested to him that he would be able to play in the game next day if he would injure the Kwansei Gakuin quarterback.
“After the practice (on May 5), coach Inoue said to me, ‘I asked head coach what you would need to do to play in the game, he said if you squash the quarterback on the first play, we would let you play. So go tell him ‘I’ll squash the quarterback, so use me,’ ” Miyagawa recalled.
Miyagawa added that Inoue told him that it would be beneficial for the Nichidai Phoenix team if the Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture team didn’t have its quarterback in the fall season.
“I thought it was an implication that I needed to do it with a strong mind-set as if I would smash (the quarterback) but I really did need to do it,” said Miyagawa, who was also told by Uchida to withdraw from playing for the national team at June’s World University Championship in China. “So I felt like I had no choice and was in anguish.”
Multiple apologies to Okuno
Uchida has already resigned from his position as the team’s head coach. Per the Japan Times report, he apologized personally to the quarterback before his resignation, though he has not commented publicly on the accusation by Miyagawa that he was behind the order to injure Okuno. Miyagawa and his family said they requested the coaching staff admit the order to injure Okuno came from them but that the coaches have declined to do so.
Miyagawa and his family have also apologized to Okuno and Nihon University has also issued a public apology. Miyagawa is also retiring from football because of the aftermath of the incident.
“I don’t think I have a right to continue to play American football,” he said in his statement. “Going forward, I have no intention to keep playing American football.”
Criminal complaint filed
Okuno’s family filed a criminal complaint about the hit. Uchida resigned on Saturday.
“The responsibility for this series of problems lies directly on my shoulders. I will resign as head coach,” Uchida told reporters at the Osaka Airport. “I am quitting for the sake of the young players. We must create a new Nichidai.
“After the incident, I did not warn my players and that is my responsibility. It was my poor judgement.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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