Saturday, July 12, 2014

Good intentions ends in football brawl

Fight mars first scrimmage of team meant to bring people together

October 19. 2013 11:07PM

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WILKES-BARRE — A fight ending with one unconscious and one in cuffs didn’t seem to dampen a Wilkes-Barre community football team’s will to do something good for the city’s men.

The Wilkes-Barre Phantoms, a semi-pro arena-style team, was holding its first scrimmage against some King’s College students Saturday afternoon in Kirby Park when three Phantoms started to fight amongst themselves.

It was halftime and everyone had taken a knee. One player, a known troublemaker whom no one seemed to know his name, insulted another player’s wife, according witnesses on the scene. When tempers flared between the two, the insulted player’s cousin, Cordell Walker, who also plays on the team, served the instigator with a single punch that leveled him.

The instigator was taken to Geisinger Wyoming Valley for treatment, according to police radio chatter. Walker was taken to police headquarters, but had not been charged with anything by the end of the day, police said.

The team’s manager and head coach, Ed Espaillat, said the team was not going to give up its original mission to help Wilkes-Barre men work together for something good.

“We’re still a very positive team. We’re brothers. We’re family,” Espaillat said. “I formed the team because there’s a lot of people who need to stay out of trouble.”

Each player signs a contract vowing not to bring violence or profanity to the gridiron, Espaillat said.

One of Espaillat’s friends paced around the scene, worried that the incident would smear the Phantom’s name and make it harder to find community support.

Espaillat cut him off.

“No!” he shouted. “You only build from this.”

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