Allen Pinkett links Irish football success to "criminals"; later apologizes
Notre Dame, IN, United States (4E Sports) – Former Notre Dame running back and current Irish radio analyst Allen Pinkett issued an apology in the wake of his controversial comments Wednesday when he said there is nothing wrong with having “criminals” on the roster of his alma mater’s football team.
Pinkett, in a radio interview with 670 The Score in Chicago Wednesday, said Brian Kelly’s team could use more “criminals” if they want to succeed.
“I’ve always felt like to have a successful team you’ve got to have a few bad citizens on the team,” Pinkett said on WSCR-AM 670. “That’s how Ohio State used to win all the time. They would have two or three guys that were criminals and that just adds to the chemistry of the team. I think Notre Dame is growing because maybe they have some guys that are doing something worthy of a suspension which creates edge on the football team.
“You can’t have a football team full of choir boys. You get your butt kicked if you’ve got a team full of choir boys so you’ve got to have a little bit of edge. But the coach has to be the dictator and the ultimate ruler. Here’s my opinion: You don’t hand out suspensions unless you know you’ve got somebody behind that guy that can make plays.”
The controversial remarks by Pinkett, a two-time All-American running back with the Irish (1982-85) before entering the NFL in 1986, was apparently in connection with the recent suspensions of four Notre Dame players by Kelly, who indicated that his goal with the ban is to make his players “better citizens.”
Irish starting running back Cierre Wood and backup defensive Justin Utupo were each meted a two-game suspension for violating team rules. Kelly also is sitting quarterback Tommy Rees and linebacker Carlos Calabrese for the season opener Saturday against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, in connection with skirmish with police following a party in May.
Pinkett, 48, who reiterated his suggestion later in the interview, was apparently less concerned about Kelly’s goal of making them good citizens.
“I absolutely meant that,” Pinkett said. “The chemistry is so important on a football team. You have to have a couple of bad guys that sort of teeter on that edge to add to the flavor of the guys that are going to always do right because that just adds to the chemistry of the football team. You have to have … you look at the teams that have won in the past, they have always had a couple of criminals.”
Many disagreed with his remarks, and Pinkett later backed off his comments and issued an apology.
“I am deeply sorry and did not intend to take away the focus from the upcoming season opener. I especially would like to offer my sincere apology to the current members of Notre Dame’s football team, including Coach Kelly, the entire Notre Dame community, the IMG College Audio Network and the Ohio State football program. As a proud Notre Dame graduate, I wish nothing but the best for our football team and the University,” the statement said.
“I understand that there may be consequences to my actions and accept whatever discipline is imposed.”
Pinkett starred for Notre Dame at running back and left the University as its all-time leading rusher. Pinkett played seven NFL seasons with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.
In his career with the Oilers (1986-91), Pinkett gained 2,624 yards rushing with 21 TDs, and caught 119 passes and 5 TDs.