Another year, another Apple Cup-related blackeye for Washington State University fans, even as they celebrate a game that in their eyes ended oh, so beautifully.
It was an extremely ugly ending for one Husky: Gig Harbor product and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
According to the website Cougcenter.com, a user submitted a video of the post-game celebration following the Cougars' 31-28 overtime victory over cross-state rival Washington. In the video, you can make out a Washington player swimming upstream against the flood of WSU fans who rushed the field.
Shortly after the 10-second mark, the white-jerseyed Washington player appears to stop, and a dark figure emerges out of nowhere, then the player immediately drops.
Cougcenter.com's Brian Floyd wrote that he's watched the video, slowed it down and focused on the Husky player. The website determined that the player is Seferian-Jenkins, and, yes, it appears someone rushing the field sucker punched him.
The question is why in the world a fan threw a punch at Seferian-Jenkins following the game. That's something we can't really answer, though, beyond pointing out the stupidity of the act. It looks like Seferian-Jenkins bumps into the woman running onto the field a second or so before he was punched. It actually looks like he reaches out to catch her, at least to me. This is no excuse for anything at all.
And you know what? It doesn't matter if Seferian-Jenkins was punched or shoved. Either way, this was absolutely stupid. The fan, or fans, took a moment of joy and jubilation and turned it into a awful incident. This shifts the way the Apple Cup is framed. It turns the narrative into "WSU has bad fans" again.
That's a damn shame. On Friday, you had a team that never gave up and fought back, as well as a ton of great storylines. But thanks to a couple idiots, this is what people will be talking about.
Later, Seferian-Jenkins posted the following on his Twitter page: "I prayed for that man that struck me. He must have some issues.''
Seferian-Jenkins could have easily lumped all WSU fans together and reinforced stereotypes of the quality of Cougar fans. I admire and thank him for his approach. It's a class act from the best tight end in the country.
But the person who apparently sucker punched Seferian-Jenkins? That's the antithesis of class. It was cowardly. If it's true that the person punched ASJ while he wasn't looking, that's even more cowardly.
It doesn' matter who the Cougars were playing. Apple Cup or not, there's no excuse. You, mystery puncher, turned something memorable into something memorably ugly. ASJ didn't deserve it. Cougar fans don't deserve it.
We watched a team that fell short all year win the biggest game of the season. Watching that winning field goal made us shout into the night.
But a sucker-punch against the opposing team's best player as he's walking off the field? No excuse. No class. All cowardly. Now, you've joined the ranks of such embarrasing episodes as the ice-throwing incident of 2010 and the beer-bottle barrage a decade before.
I hope WSU leaders immediately denounce this behavior. I hope authorities find the fan and punish appropriately. I hope Mike Leach, never one to mince words, chastises such idiotic behavior.
I also hope Seferian-Jenkins scores the winning touchdown in whatever bowl game UW plays. I hope he wins the John Mackey Award for best tight end in the country.
And if there were any justice, I would want to see whomever hit Seferian-Jenkins face him 1-on-1 in a room, when the 6-foot-6, 266-pound tight end is looking.
Then again, Seferian-Jenkins would probably just walk away in that situation. That's what class acts do.