Sep 142006
Authors: SEAN STAR The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Ask any coach and they’ll tell you that competition for a starting position is a good thing.

However, competition over the starting punter position on the Northern Colorado football team reached an unprecedented level Monday when it was reported that the backup punter for the Bears was arrested for reportedly stabbing the starter.

He did what?

In an unprecedented incident, UNC sophomore Mitch Cozad faces charges of second-degree assault after stabbing the starter, junior Rafael Mendoza, in his kicking leg.

Physical fights between teammates happen all the time in dugouts, locker rooms and practice fields. But criminal violence between players on the same team is virtually unheard of.

The only thing this fiasco can be compared to is the attack figure skater Tonya Harding had arranged to take out Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The big difference, though, is that Harding and Kerrigan weren’t on the same team.

The fact that a college football player would resort to stabbing a teammate just to get on the field for a few plays is astonishing.

So much for team comradery.

“I’ve heard of teammates fighting over girls and stuff like that,” said CSU junior punter Jimmy Kaylor. “You never think it could go that far.”

Needless to say, Cozad was suspended from the team. For what he did, he should be suspended from competition for the rest of his life.

Imagine Cozad losing to you in a game of Madden. Even worse, think about beating him out for a job in the professional world.

Hypothetically speaking, even if a player’s mind was set on taking out a teammate, they certainly could come up with something better than stabbing them.

Cozad could have at least hired a hit man, or even poisoned the other guy’s Gatorade.

After all, what else does a backup punter do while everyone else is tackling, watching films and lifting weights?

This year was supposed to be a monumental year for the UNC football program after making the jump from Division II to D-IAA.

Instead, the Bears’ season will forever be remembered as the year – in the words of Peyton Manning – “an idiot kicker” thought he was a member of the Mafia instead of a backup punter for UNC who couldn’t cut it at Wyoming.

However, as bizarre as this story may seem, it’s just yet another reminder that athletes are fully capable of being as crazy as any one else.

Yes, Cozad has more than a few screws loose, but he is certainly not alone.

People get stabbed, shot at and beat up everyday, just not over things as insignificant as being the starting punter for UNC.

Staff writer Sean Star can be reached at

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