by Irvin Muchnick
One player after another on the Cal football team, defying risk to scholarships and careers, offered testimony contradicting the accounts of the university, head coach Sonny Dykes, and staff in the aftermath of the fatal hill rope drill orchestrated by strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington.
In this new installment, a player being deposed in what would become the $4.75 million civil lawsuit settlement by the family of Ted Agu said athletic trainer Robbie Jackson couldn’t make eye contact with the team while he explained Agu’s death, and that Dykes, while addressing the situation at a team meeting, “tried to put us at ease with something that wasn’t true.”
This is the basis of excerpts from an additional player’s February 26, 2015, deposition. Concussion Inc. will be publishing the complete “Ted Agu Papers” as an ebook, with proceeds benefiting research and education on sickle cell trait. Prior to publication of the ebook, we do not intend to name any player-deponents.
We had a team meeting. Coach called a team meeting, Coach Dykes. He had the trainers, he had Dr. Batten, he had Robbie.
And Dr. Batten was speaking to us, the team, telling us what was going on. But when he was talking, you could tell he didn’t really know what was going on, because he wasn’t even at the hill. He wasn’t there at all. So he passed it on to Robbie. Robbie’s face got red and he was not talking fluidly at all. He was stuttering and he wasn’t looking at the team at all. He was pretty much looking down. He wouldn’t look at the team in their eyes at all. He wouldn’t look at us in the eyes at all.
And when he was telling us what was going on, we had a couple of teammates of mine that knew something was up, that they was hiding something. So when they went to ask a question, they couldn’t answer it. They were covering it up. They knew something, but they just — they just didn’t want to tell us. So they were covering it up.
And he looked at Coach Dykes, so Coach Dykes would get up. And Coach Dykes would say — he — he says something like — I don’t remember his exact words — but he pretty much tried to put us at ease with something that wasn’t true.
And that’s pretty much when we knew that everything was a lie, that they were hiding something.
[Deponent asked why he chose to testify voluntarily, without being subpoenaed.]
Because I don’t think it’s right. This is somebody’s son. This is somebody — it’s a family member of someone. You have to look at it in like if this was your son. How would you feel if this happened to your son and you don’t know exactly what happened?
I mean, you send your son out to college and your coach is like your father while you’re off to college because you’re not home with your dad, you’re not home with your mom. So this man’s responsible for you. And your parents — and you trust this guy to watch out for you and take care of you. But if something goes wrong and can’t give the truth, that’s — that’s irresponsible, you know. That’s not right at all.