A youth football coach in Georgia was banned from the league for life this week after footage went viral on social media showing him striking a player during a game.
According to Yahoo Sports, the incident occurred during an opening game Monday at the American Youth Football (AYF) national championships in Kissimmee, Fla.
In the video shared on Twitter, the coach of a 9-and-under team from Savannah, Ga., identified as Gerrel Williams, can be seen hitting one of his players in the head twice as the team walked to the sidelines at halftime causing him to be knocked off balance.
Moments later, Williams can be seen hitting the same player again hard enough to push him to the ground before grabbing him by the helmet and pushing him off the field.
Someone shared this with me. It was on their Facebook page. Supposedly happened in Florida during some championships during the past week. Anyone know disposition? Should’ve been arrested . . . . . Absolutely, totally uncalled for. We have to rid sports of “coaches” like this. pic.twitter.com/X57VMr7Rfe
— Chris Fore (@CoachFore) December 9, 2020
In a statement to Yahoo Sports, AYF called Williams’s actions a “complete breach” of its code of conduct, adding that the league had expelled the coach from all future events.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Department obtained video of the incident, writing in a report that police had made contact with the victim’s mother who “advised she was aware of the incident, and specifically stated she did not want to press charges.”
The child’s mother also told the Savannah Morning News she did not want to talk about the incident, but said she knows “that none of these coaches would harm [the] kids.”
Yahoo Sports also reported that Williams was fired from his job as a detention center counselor at Georgia’s Chatham County Sheriff’s Office after the department saw the video.
“We reviewed the video, we did an internal investigation, we brought him in, we interviewed him and he is no longer employed,” a spokeswoman reportedly said. “We do not condone that type of behavior.”
In response to the incident, Williams shared a private video on Facebook Wednesday apologizing and saying there was “no excuse” for his actions.
“At the end of the day, I am a man, and I’m not gon’ make no excuses for what I did,” he said, according to Yahoo Sports. “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have disciplined him in public — I shoulda waited ‘til he got back — for doing what he did.”
“At the end of the day, I apologize to him, the kids, the city … and my family back at home. I do apologize,” Williams continued. “I hope he forgive me, and his parents have forgiven me.”
The incident drew attention throughout the week on social media, with LeBron James writing in an Instagram post, “Ain’t no way!! Couldn’t be my kid. Hell if I there and it’s not even my kid we gone have more than words for sure.”
NFL Hall-of-Famer and TV host Shannon Sharpe took to Twitter to criticize other adults in the video for not stopping the coach.
“I won’t let anyone pray on the weak or vulnerable in front of me. Not going to happen,” Sharpe said
I’ll whip him even IF* that’s his kid. I won’t let anyone pray on the weak or vulnerable in front of me. Not going to happen https://t.co/YZ765bTdaY
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) December 10, 2020