Referee Peter McCabe is recuperating from a vicious attack at the conclusion of a North American Football League game on Saturday in Rochester, N.Y. McCabe was allegedly assaulted by a player from the Western New York Cougars, who, according to reports, pummeled the referee with the player’s helmet.
McCabe’s nose was detached with most of his facial bones broken. His alleged assailant, Leon Woods, is in prison on $10,000 bail, charged today with first-degree assault.
A witness, in a deposition released by police, claimed that he “heard a hard crack” while another said that he “saw the player swing his helmet over his head and hit McCabe in the face with [the] helmet.” Another official told a local TV station that the player was yelling, “Take that! Take that!”
The commissioner of the NAFL, Robin Williams, contacted the Zebra Blog on our request for comment. She expressed that the league is “deeply saddened by the event and wishes the injured referee a speedy and full recovery.”
“We’ve been managing a quality organization for the past 11 years and have never seen an incident like this before.”
We questioned whether the league conducted, or teams were required to conduct, background checks on their players. Williams stated, “In terms of background checks, the NAFL has a relationship with several other leagues, where we cross ban players and owners from joining our league, or vice versa, if that member had been banned by either organization. Because we do encourage mentoring, leadership and getting at-risk youth and adults off the street, we do not have a policy [of] banning players with former criminal or misdemeanor record.”
The Cougars applied for admission to the NAFL in 2009 but have yet to pay the league dues. Rather than canceling games, the NAFL permitted its teams to play the Cougars this year to help defray their costs.
McCabe is home right now, but scheduled to return to the hospital for more reconstructive surgery on Friday. In the meantime, the 25-year veteran official indicated that Saturday’s game will be his last.
Update, 10/29/09: A representative from the Cougars replied to our e-mail, stating that the team intends to issue a press release, but otherwise did not comment on the allegations or answer our questions.
The photo on this post was taken by another referee and is credited to 98.9 The Buzz in Rochester.