I don’t know whether it’s my love for the Southeastern Conference, my deep belief in good sportsmanship, or my lifelong affection for our hometown-based Krystal Restaurants but when I got back from out-of-town Wednesday night I was deeply saddened.
My email was packed with copies of a sickening video that was apparently taken just hours after Alabama won a 21-0 victory over LSU in this year’s national championship football game. It was taken by a passer-by in the wee hours following the game on Jan. 9 and first appeared on the YouTube website but was hurriedly taken down. But copies then resurfaced on several other websites. The viral video was obviously taken at the Krystal Restaurant, located at 116 Bourbon St. in New Orleans, where purportedly many strange things have been known to happen late at night in the past. It clearly shows an inebriated and unconscious LSU male slumped over a counter and mockingly covered with several empty hamburger cartons and debris.
He is surrounded by a horde of cheering University of Alabama revelers who ridicule him, two in particular dressed in crimson who take great sport in teasing and threatening to “put a cheese-fry in his ear.” But then the tape shows what New Orleans police claim is sexual battery - one vile Alabama fan unzipped his pants and – in full view – rubbed his genitals in the neck and face of the LSU drunk in a disgusting act known as “tea-bagging.” During the act, other Alabama followers can be seen cheering and laughing.The New Orleans police, who also have a copies of the tape, have issued a “very serious” wanted poster for a “person on interest” – showing several pictures from the tape of a bearded male wearing his hat backwards – on numerous Louisiana websites. The NOPD has now intensified the search, asking for the public’s help with identification, and prosecutors are no longer waiting for the victim to file a complaint before moving forward.
The website Deadspin.com claims its tipsters have revealed that one Alabama fan seen in the video is from Mobile, Ala., and television station WKRG in Mobile has since reported the man to be the son of the station’s sports director. The news anchor from the station identified cheering man as Patrick Setterstrom, a recent Alabama graduate, and the sports director has been absent from telecasts.
The video has now been shown, obviously in edited form, on several TV stations in Alabama and Al.com, a website showcasing Alabama’s largest newspapers, has a poll in progress to learn who has brought “greater shame to Alabama” - tree-poisoner Harvey Updyke or the villain now being called the “Big Easy Tea-Bagger.”
As of 8 p.m. Wednesday night, 45 percent of the 5,480 who responded to the poll believed the two have “brought equal shame,” 20 percent strangely took the view “both add to the legend of Alabama fanaticism, ” 18 percent voted for Updyke and 12 percent the “Tea-Bagger.”
Updyke, who appeared in an Auburn, Ala., court last week and will go to trial on March 5, was seen wearing Alabama apparel in New Orleans before this year’s championship game and some on Bourbon Street reportedly had their pictures taken with the man who is believed to have poisoned the trees at Auburn’s famed Toomer’s Corner.
Ironically, fan message boards at both LSU and Alabama are filled with equal rage and the biggest question on both is why no bystanders rushed to stop the incident and the act of sexual battery as it occurred. Why didn’t Krystal managers or employees call the police? Why didn’t other Alabama fans call “911”?
“Fanaticism,” indeed! This is sick stuff and the view here is that the “tree poisoner” and the “tea-bagger” should both spend time in jail with the other thugs. Updyke maliciously attempted to kill Auburn’s beloved oak trees after Auburn beat Alabama in November of 2010 and then was caught after he bragged about it when he called in as “Al from Dadeville” on a popular Birmingham sports show.
But the audacious Alabama fan who committed the flagrant act, so clearly seen on the video, is clearly guilty of sexual misconduct and things look worse for him in a New Orleans court because there are clear and concise laws in Louisiana in dealing with sexual deviants.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, sexual battery is defined by law as “the touching of the ... genitals of the offender by the victim" if the offender acts without the victim's consent, and, under the laws, “a victim has not consented if he or she is ‘incapable, through unsoundness of mind, of understanding the nature of the act, and the offender knew or should have known of the victim's incapacity.’" Are you kidding me? This isn’t funny. This is sick. The University of Alabama needs to be pro-active in cleaning up what at least 20 percent of one poll sloughs off as adding “to the legend of Alabama fanaticism” and the Krystal restaurant, located at 116 Bourbon Street, needs to hire cops instead of servers.
Lastly, such behavior is clearly not part nor parcel of a national championship. I can readily assure you Paul “Bear” Bryant would weep.