LINDEN - The mother of a suspended high school football player is coming to her son's defense, saying the punishment is too severe for what amounts to an accident on the field.
Fritz Moncion, 18, was kicked off the Linden High School football team for the season and suspended from school for 10 days after he was caught on camera appearing to remove the helmet from the head of an opposing Immaculata High School player and hit the player with it.
"His hand was actually stuck in the helmet," Anita McDuffy, Moncion's mother, said during a news conference Thursday. "He tried to get his hand out, and that's when the helmet came off his head, and he tried to get the helmet off of him."
Representatives for Moncion said that racial slurs had been used during the game and that the player who was hit had speared Moncion. News 12 contacted Immaculata for reaction, but the school hasn't responded.
Moncion didn't attend the news conference, which was organized by community activists who want the school to reconsider Moncion's punishment.
"I think it's very harsh that they kicked him off the team," said McDuffy.
Danny Robertozzi, the superintendent for Linden public schools, stood by the punishment but added that Moncion isn't a bad student.
In a statement, the family of the 16-year-old Immaculata player, who required about 10 stitches, said, "We are proud of our son's peacefulness and self-control."
McDuffy said her son apologized to the Immaculata player and game officials after the incident at last week's game, but Moncion also wants to apologize formally.
A prosecutor will decide whether Moncion will face criminal charges, but the nature of the game of football may complicate that decision.