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Arrested Nebraska Players Say Police at Fault

Associated Press

University of Nebraska football players and graduate assistants arrested in the French Quarter say they were behaving themselves, and it was the police who were profane and abusive, Coach Tom Osborne said Friday.

“The players said they did not use any profanity on the officers, did not hit any cars, did not climb any railings,” Osborne said. “Most of them do not drink at all in that group. And there’s no charge of anything like that.

“So I don’t know what happened,” said Osborne, whose sixth-ranked team is in New Orleans to prepare for the Sugar Bowl game against No. 5 Louisiana State on New Year’s Day.

Police Cpl. Richard Hunter said those arrested were shouting and slapping parked cars early Wednesday. When a police officer told them to calm down, Hunter said, they shouted obscenities and climbed iron columns on the sidewalk.

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“We regret that it happened,” he said. “They were just a bunch of kids who were overreacting and overzealous in their celebrating.”

Osborne said the players and assistants told him Friday morning that they were walking back to the hotel about midnight or 12:15 a.m. Wednesday--well before their curfew--when they were stopped.

“They said a police car driving by said something about, ‘Now we know why they raised the drinking age,’ ” Osborne recounted.

He said he was told that when asked why, the officers responded: “Because of blankety-blanks like you.”

“They walked around the street, and the cops came around the corner and told them to line up against the wall, and hauled them all in,” he said.

A traffic court judge released the group a short time after they were booked.

The players arrested were Danny Noonan, 21; Marc Munford, 21; Mark Blazek, 20; Gary Schneider, 23; Jeff Tomjack, 23; John Strasheim, 25; James Toner, 21, and Jeff Wheeler, 20.

The graduate assistants arrested were Scott K. Fischer, 29, and Matt Strasburger, 22. Another man, Robert Johnson, 25, of Lincoln, Neb., was also arrested.

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Osborne said the group apparently was told there would be no publicity about the incident, and he hadn’t been told about it until a reporter called him Thursday night to ask about it.

“I feel pretty silly,” he said.

Osborne said he wouldn’t discipline anyone in the group unless he learned something that would disprove what they told him.


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