Monday, September 8, 2014

Gano calls trombone player to apologize for pushing him during Panther halftime

The saga of Panther kicker Graham Gano and the trombone player from Bethune-Cookman that he pushed out of the way at halftime Monday is getting a happy ending.

Gano felt very bad about the incident after Sunday's game and asked me in the Panthers' locker room to try to track down the trombone player, because he wanted to talk to him in person and apologize. I did that Monday with the help of longtime band director Donovan Wells, who says Gano's push was "no harm, no foul, no malice" and that the Panther kicker has "been getting a bad rap" on social media (where the video of Gano's push has gone viral).

The trombone player turns out to be 18-year-old Marquel Ballard, a freshman trombonist from Atlanta who is so good that he's on partial scholarship and also has made the marching band as a freshman -- which the band director says is difficult to do.

"We were both just doing our jobs, and our paths crossed," Ballard told me when I reached him by phone Monday. "I think it's kind of funny now."

With the permission of Ballard and Wells, I gave Ballard's phone number to Gano. They talked Monday afternoon and both came away feeling much better after that conversation, which included Gano apologizing and being forgiven by Ballard.

"We're cool," Ballard said. Gano tweeted out after the conversation that "all is forgiven" and called Ballard an "extremely talented trombonist."

Gano also offered Ballard two field passes and tickets for the Panthers' game at Atlanta Dec.28th, because Ballard is from Atlanta and is a Falcons fan. Ballard said he hopes to take that offer but "it depends on what the band is doing, because I love the band."

Wells said that Bethune-Cookman has never previously been late for a gig in his 18-year career as its band director. But what is normally a three-hour drive from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Tampa, took more than four hours because of a horrific storm that slowed the seven charter buses carrying 330 band members to 10 miles per hour in some stretches.

The band had to literally run from its buses onto the field and didn't get there until about 3 minutes and 30 seconds remained in the 12-minute halftime. By then, Gano was already back on the field practicing kicks. The band took its spots around him and started playing and dancing while Gano was kicking, and two pushes -- "really one nudge and one push," Ballard said -- ensued as Gano tried to get in his practice kicks despite the band playing all around him.

"It was a difficult situation for everyone," Wells said. "But I understand what Gano was doing, and what Marquel was doing, too. I thought they were both pros about it."

"I regret that it happened," Gano said, "but I am very impressed that Marquel never broke stride. He just kept playing."


Anonymous said...

Scott, why was Gano on the field in the first place if the band had the 12 minutes time block? Shouldn't Gano have stayed on sidelines to wait and kick AFTER the 12 minutes block?


Scott Fowler said...

Kickers and punters are routinely on the field the last few minutes of halftime. By then, halftime shows are usually over. Not this time -- that's just when it started. Tampa's kicker was also on the field, but he had a little more room to maneuver on his side of the field while practicing his kicks.

Anonymous said...

ANYBODY who tries to make this out to be more than just something that happened during the course of a rushed schedule due to travel delays is an absolute idiot.

Gano did NOT aggressively push the band member and the band member did not force his way back into the space he was moved from.

Both guys handled it well and remember, this is a living for Gano... it was an invitation for the band.

Glad that Gano was so propfessional in reaching out to him and that proves that this was NOT RACIALLY MOTIVATED! So everyone tweeting and posting otherwise, you are the only racists involved with this entire incident!

There are the facts... plain and simple!

Anonymous said...

I was there at the game next to the cops and even they stated he could've been charged with battery for pushing the kid. It's not acceptable to be pushing someone around because they in inconvience you. And if he makes a living playing football he should be more considerate to the consequences of his actions.

Would've been hilarious if the kid did press charges and the nfl would've had to utilize its new violence policy on him

Anonymous said...

Who the hell would ever say this was racially motivated? Is any interaction with 2 people of different color now automatically assumed to have some deep seated racial implication?

Anonymous said...

Good sportsmanship on the part of both- Gano and the young man in the band. That's how conflicts should be handled.

Anonymous said...

It seems that in a BC-UNC Bowl game in Ericsson some years ago the band was in the way of the kicker practicing (or the kicker was in the way of the band). I just don't get why this continues to be a problem. Whose space is it?

Conan said...

So Mark, can you read???
"The band had to literally run from its buses onto the field and didn't get there until about 3 minutes and 30 seconds remained in the 12-minute halftime"

And battery, really!! You guys are idiots, and sore losers!!!

Salittish said...

Battery Charges?!?!? You are a moron and so are the "cops" who told you so. There was no malice or injury, and nor was there anything offending about the touch. No Officer would have dared to arrest him. Even simple battery charges wouldn't have made it to court. Wow!!

As for Gano!!! What a stand up guy!!! I am proud of him for reacting quickly to this and being the guy we know him to be.