POLL: Should Sayreville football coach George Najjar get his job back?
As of last night's Board of Education meeting in Sayreville, School Superintendent Rich Labbe made the announcement that the Sayreville War Memorial football program will return in 2015.
What was not discussed - but will come up - will be the status of former Coach George Najjar - who'd been suspended back in October - when the football season was abruptly cancelled.
As I'd written back in October, Coach Najjar has had the undying support of players and former players.
One in particular had started a petition for the coach to keep his job
and presented it to the Sayreville Board of Education at the time - testifying that the coach was an inspiration not only on the gridiron, but as a builder of character.
That support goes back to Najjar’s former post as head coach of the Abraham Lincoln HS’s Honest Abes.
Something he would never tolerate, according to former players, were hazing rituals that would come to his attention. One former player said that when he was being hazed by older teammates, who used a paddle “Animal House style” on him, the coach stepped in and put an end to it.
But perhaps his one failing – among the plaudits he’s received from his former players, is that he trusted them too much in policing themselves.
But when it came to the locker room, Najjar kept his distance, allowing his players to run the room.
That approach appears to have continued at Sayreville. Back just before the program was cancelled, a Sayreville player said Najjar, in a meeting the day before the team’s Oct. 2 game with South Brunswick was cancelled, told them he could no longer count on them to behave when he wasn’t around.
“I had full trust in you and I shouldn’t be in there with you,” the player told NJ Advance Media. “But now if you guys are in there screwing around, I have to be in there with you.”
Some districts may or may not have a “no coaches in the locker room” policy – a policy that has been disputed by some with whom I’ve spoken.
Back in Brooklyn where Najjar coached, his predecessor made it a policy not to enter the locker room while the players were undressing. This followed a scandal involving a fellow coach at a nearby high school who was involved sexually with a number of students.
It would appear that Najjar followed a similar pattern of not staying in the locker area with his players.
Hence the quote attributed to Najjar from a player:
“I had full trust in you and I shouldn’t be in there with you.” “But now if you guys are in there screwing around, I have to be in there with you.”
Whatever the policy, someone takes the blame for the resultant actions of the players. And it’s not just the kids themselves, but the adults in charge of them.
Adults who, because of their positions not just as coaches of a football game, but coaches in the game of life; have to instill in them values that will serve them once they leave the football program.
Just ask any of Najjar’s former players. They’ll tell you he was as upstanding a person as you’ll ever find.
However it’s his one failing that will likely cost him his job. And it shouldn't! There should be no "sacrificial lambs" here. The only ones held responsible should be the alleged perpetrators of the hazing.
But given the amount of trust the coach had in his players - it was misplaced trust.
So despite the program being reinstated, the one who, unfortunately, will - in my opinion - not see it to fruition will be the head coach with "too much trust in his players"