The NFL’s Darkest Weekend

In November 1963, as a shocked nation mourned its assassinated president, the NFL proceeded with its full Sunday schedule. One result of this controversial decision was a brutal off-the-field fight that came close to taking a player’s life

A version of this story appears in the Nov. 25 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.

By Tim Layden

There was a fight, though not a fight in the strictest sense. It was a beating. One member of the Eagles knocked out another and then leaned over him and pummeled his face and skull so fiercely that his own hands were reduced to bloody mitts. The man beneath him, the bigger man, drifted in and out of consciousness, and the Philadelphia teammates who saw him that evening would never forget the damage. His head, one man would say, was swollen “like a pumpkin on a little baby’s body.” His nose and mouth were battered to a pulp; at least two of his teeth were knocked out; and his blood was spilled in such volume that the floor of a stately old Philadelphia landmark looked like the floor of a slaughterhouse.

It was 50 years ago this weekend, on the eve of a game between the Eagles and the Redskins, two teams with four wins between them, buried at the bottom of the Eastern Conference of the old 14-team NFL. The Redskins had taken a train north from Washington on Saturday afternoon, while the Eagles had checked into the Sheraton Motor Inn at 39th and Chestnut, where they always bedded down the night before home games, at Franklin Field. The skeletal details of the weekend were like those of so many teams’ weekends before and after: meals, meetings and fitful sleep in preparation for the violent spectacle on Sunday afternoon.

But everything else about that weekend was . . . different. The course of U.S. history had been altered; a collective innocence had been shattered; and a nation was left staring at its televisions in disbelief.

nfl-jkf-scotti-mellekas-then-800
Ben Scotti (left) and John Mellekas, Eagles teammates involved in a life-altering fight the Saturday night after the assassination. (Courtesy of Philadelphia Eagles : : Courtesy of John Mellekas)

On that Saturday evening 26-year-old Ben Scotti, a fiery 6’ 1″, 184-pound defensive back from Newark, beat up 30-year-old John Mellekas, a 6’ 3″, 255-pound defensive tackle from Newport, R.I. They had argued about something, though the substance of the disagreement—and whether it was a disagreement at all—remains in dispute, made ever hazier by the aging of those who witnessed it and the manner in which they used their heads as young men. “There’s not much doubt that what happened between Ben Scotti and John Mellekas was due in some part to the emotion of the moment,” says Pete Retzlaff, a tight end and wide receiver for the Eagles from 1956 to ’66. “To the emotions of that whole weekend.”

Scotti, who likens himself to Rocky Marciano, hit Mellekas so hard that he sliced a tendon in his right ring finger on one of Mellekas’s teeth. Mellekas doesn’t remember being hit by any punch—only waking up in a hospital room with his wife at his side and Scotti in the room next door. Their fight would follow the two men into old age, boilerplate inserted into every story that tried to encapsulate the nationwide pain and confusion of that singular weekend. Scotti would say he regretted the incident, but he would retell it with a pugnacious zeal. Mellekas so disliked the notorious role he was assigned in history that he wouldn’t talk about it with anybody, even his five children. He and Scotti would go on to do much with their lives, in very different ways. But they would never escape that night.

And none of it would have happened if President John F. Kennedy hadn’t been shot to death while riding in the back of a limousine that Friday afternoon in Dallas, and if NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle hadn’t decided to forge ahead with a full schedule of regular-season games two days later—plunging the NFL into the strangest, darkest weekend in its history.

* * *

The motorcade in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963. (AP)
The motorcade in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963. (AP)

Early on the afternoon of the fourth Friday of November 1963, Philadelphia and Washington were practicing for their game that Sunday, each team’s 11th game of a lost season. Three years earlier the Eagles of quarterback Norm Van Brocklin and linebacker Chuck (Concrete Charlie) Bednarik had won the NFL championship, and they had followed that up with a contending 10-4 season. But the heart of that team was gone, and these Eagles had won just five of their past 23 games. The Redskins hadn’t won a league title since 1942 and hadn’t had a winning season since ’55. They would go to Philadelphia with only three wins in their previous 18 games.

The Redskins held their practice on a field by the Anacostia River, a few hundred yards from two-year-old D.C. Stadium, where they played home games. The team had just begun position drills at various spots on the field when coach Bill McPeak blew his whistle and called the players together. Everybody up, everybody up! Pat Richter, a 22-year-old rookie wide receiver and punter—and the team’s first-round draft choice, from Wisconsin—walked toward the gathering with a sense of foreboding that sticks with him five decades later. “It was eerie,” he says. “You looked around at the roadways and it was quiet, and you sensed that something had happened, but you didn’t know what it was.”

The players recall the silence that descended as they processed the unfathomable. Yet everyone remembers that the practice continued.

The players who encircled McPeak that afternoon are old now, from their early 70s into their mid-80s. Some of their memories have been lost to age or repeated concussions or both. Yet during interviews with 21 players from both teams, the sharpest recollections were of those first moments on Friday afternoon, in the minutes and hours after Kennedy was shot in Dallas while riding in a motorcade at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. McPeak, who was 37 and six years removed from his last game as a defensive end for the Steelers, said something to the effect of “the President’s been shot and killed.” The players recall the silence that descended as they processed the unfathomable. “I remember thinking, How could this happen?” says Lonnie Sanders, then a rookie defensive back. “How could that happen in this country?” Yet everyone remembers that the practice continued.

Back in the stadium defensive tackle Ed Khayat and cornerback Johnny Sample sat in whirlpools, nursing injuries. A groundskeeper ambled in, a cheerful guy who was always busting chops. He said, “The President’s just been shot.” At first Khayat and Sample didn’t believe him.

Eagles players recall practicing slightly earlier in the day on a rutted, unlined plot of land called River Field, near a set of railroad tracks adjacent to the Penn campus. They took a bus there every day from Franklin Field. “I remember getting back into the locker room at the stadium,” says former defensive back Irv Cross. “Nate Ramsey came running into the room. Nate was a practical joker, and he was saying some dude shot the President. It didn’t seem possible.”

Linebacker Maxie Baughan left practice quickly and was driving to an autograph-signing session at a downtown car dealership (for which he was paid $50) when he heard about the assassination on his car radio. He went ahead and signed in a daze. “That was good money,” he says. “What could I do?”

* * *

The events of Nov. 22, 1963, occurred so long ago and have been so thoroughly dissected (like those of Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 7, 1941) that the emotional impact of the assassination has been lost in the haze of deconstruction. Yet those emotions are worth evoking. In the autumn of ’63, the country lived in an idyll of hope and naiveté, much of it represented by Kennedy. We are a different people now—unspeakable tragedies (New York, New Orleans, Newtown) unfold live on television and the Internet, avidly consumed by an anxious populace. That transformation began when Kennedy died.

In the mid-afternoon, Redskins players left the stadium and drove to their homes through a ghost town. “I lived in an old hotel with Eddie Khayat,” says Billy Ray Barnes, a running back in ’63. “Just riding over there, it seemed like we were the only ones on the dang road even moving. It was just unreal.”

Offensive lineman Vince Promuto saw blank faces by the side of the road. “It was like everybody was in shock,” he says. “Nowadays you hear stuff every day, things blowing up and people shooting each other. That wasn’t the case in 1963.”

Eagles offensive tackle J.D. Smith went home to his wife, Melanie, in suburban King of Prussia, and together they alternated between watching coverage of the assassination on TV and looking out their windows at the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. “Usually the roads were jammed,” Smith says, “but there were hardly any cars at all.”

While players prepared for Sunday, the late president lay in state in the Capitol rotunda. (AP)
While players prepared for Sunday, the late president lay in state in the Capitol rotunda. (AP)

Redskins receiver Bobby Mitchell was overwhelmed by the news. Mitchell had been traded by the Browns in 1962, becoming one of the first African-American players on the Redskins’ roster. (Mitchell is often portrayed as the man who integrated the team, but four African-Americans were on the roster at some point in 1962. “I was represented as the first black player because I was the star,” says Mitchell. “Conversely, I caught the most hell.”) Mitchell was befriended by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the President’s younger brother and a future U.S. senator, who would also be assassinated, in 1968. Mitchell and his wife, Gwen, frequently visited RFK and his family at their home in Virginia. “When Coach McPeak told us the news, my mind immediately went to Bobby,” says Mitchell. “I knew how he felt about his brother. I just thought, Oh, my God.

A few months earlier, Mitchell and Gwen had been invited to a state dinner at the White House. Mitchell’s recollection of the event is that the only other black man in attendance was Sammy Davis Jr., with his wife, Swedish actress May Britt. When President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, appeared, the Mitchells stood in the background. JFK saw them and approached. “He shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you for what you do,’ ” says Mitchell, and he laughs. “Jackie shook my wife’s hand. She’s never washed it since.”

Years later Rozelle would call the decision to play on that Sunday the worst of his 29-year commissionership.

Players from both teams, and from the other 12 in the NFL, awaited word from Rozelle on whether the seven games scheduled for Sunday would be played. There was no template for such a decision; the country had never buried a sitting president in the television era. Some college football games were played that Saturday, others were not. The NBA and NHL continued playing on the weekend, yet the fledgling American Football League called off its games. Rozelle sought the counsel of White House press secretary Pierre Salinger, who had been his University of San Francisco classmate. Salinger advised Rozelle to play the games, and Rozelle gave the go-ahead on Friday night.

 “I’ve never questioned it,” Salinger told SI’s Peter King in 1993, nine years before he died. “This country needed some normalcy, and football, which is a very important game in our society, helped provide it.”

As the story of the Kennedy assassination weekend has been recounted over the past half century, a certain narrative emerged: NFL players were marched like gladiators to the Colosseum to distract the masses as the President lay in state and the man accused of killing him was gunned down in the basement of a Dallas police station. There was some truth to this. “There was an empty feeling,” says Retzlaff, “and I didn’t feel like we should go out and play football under the circumstances.”

Yet they were employees, under contract and powerless. “There was no activism among athletes at that time,” says Richter. “This was something the commissioner said to do, so you did it.”

Some players saw nothing wrong with this. “I wanted to play,” says Sanders. “I thought it would be relaxing for us, and maybe it would help the mood of the entire country.”

Baughan agrees. “I thought it was the right thing to play,” he says. “There was nothing [the fans] could do but sit at home and mope. They couldn’t change what happened.”

Against this emotional backdrop, the Redskins boarded a train at Washington’s Union Station on Saturday, and the Eagles convened at their team hotel.

* * *

What exactly happened in that hotel that night? This much is agreed upon: There was palpable tension among the players. “We were still shocked and dismayed about the President,” says J.D. Smith. “We didn’t know what was coming next.” Many Eagles were angry that the game was going forward, but few expressed it openly.

After the players met with coach Nick Skorich as a full team, they broke up into smaller groups. Sometime after that there was a disagreement between Scotti and another player, and then between Scotti and Mellekas. The rest of the story is less certain. Baughan recalls an argument involving Kennedy, and, he adds, “Scotti worshipped Kennedy.” (Scotti says he had been introduced to the President in Washington two years earlier, when he played for the Redskins. On the day of the assassination, he says, he went into a Catholic church and lit a candle “for the repose of the President’s soul.”)

Scotti, now 76, says that a cluster of players was talking about taking up a collection for the family of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, who had been killed by Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Scotti says that as he spoke, a teammate interrupted and said, “If it wasn’t for your friend Pete Rozelle, that guinea bastard, we wouldn’t be playing tomorrow.” Scotti, who is of Italian descent (though Rozelle was not), took offense and threatened to fight the player, who, Scotti says, then backed down. However, Scotti continues, Mellekas stepped in and also called Rozelle “a guinea bastard.” (Teammates would later recall that Mellekas sometimes teased Scotti in the Eagles’ locker room and that Scotti did not take kindly to it.) Shortly afterward Scotti and Mellekas left together, presumably to settle their differences.

That matches the version of events in a story written by Milton Gross of the New York Post a few weeks later. However, Gross’s only direct quotes are from Scotti. The writer asserted that the details of his piece “have been verified to me at the league offices.” Gross died in 1973.

Scotti left the NFL for Hollywood and became a successful producer.
Scotti left the NFL for Hollywood and became successful in the record and television industry. (Joey Terrill for Sports Illustrated)

According to Scotti, this is what happened next: “We go upstairs to the laundry room at the hotel. It was a little room, just about the size of a [boxing] ring. He’s a big guy, 250. I’m 184, but I’ve got a 19-inch neck and 16-inch arms. It was him and me, let’s go. I hit him a right hand, and he’s out. Then I hit him a left and another right and then moved in on him.”

It didn’t last long. Teammates and coaches had heard the ruckus and rushed in to stop Scotti. Some say the fight took place in a coatroom and others say it was in a ballroom off the lobby, but they all remember the scene. “Scotti had John Mellekas down on the floor, and he was punching him and poor John’s head was swollen up twice as big as it was supposed to be,” says Baughan. “We all got on top of Ben and pulled him off, or I think he would have killed John.”

Scotti, the son of a New Jersey Teamsters business agent, played football at Maryland alongside his younger brother Tony. Even in the hypermacho world of pro football, he was recognized as a tough guy. “Ben was an interesting individual,” says Tom Woodeshick, who was a rookie fullback with the Eagles in ’63 and roomed with Scotti, a five-year veteran, on the road. “He used to have me stay after practice for extra tackling practice before we played Cleveland. Then the Browns would run play-action, and Ben would run up and hit Jim Brown, and his man would catch a touchdown pass in the end zone. All Ben wanted to do was beat the s— out of people on the football field.”

Scotti took that same attitude into the business world after he was cut by the 49ers in 1965, at 28. He went to work as a promoter for San Francisco–based Autumn Records. “The job was to take records around to radio stations and get them played for your artists,” says Jerry Moss, who also started in the music industry as a promotions man and later founded industry giant A&M Records with Herb Alpert. “Ben was very good at it.” The job sometimes involved a light touch and sometimes a slightly heavier one. Scotti could provide either.

In 1974, Scotti and his brothers, Tony and Fred, started Scotti Brothers Records and later Scotti Brothers Pictures, which was associated with the fabulously successful television show Baywatch. According to a 1998 story in the The Washington Post, the brothers sold their company for $545 million in 1997 and a year later made a bid to buy the Redskins. Ben Scotti retains his sharp edge to this day. “[Tony] was the business genius of the operation,” he says. “I was the muscle.” Scotti has two sons: Anthony, who works for J.P. Morgan, and Ben, a lawyer with former FBI director Louis Freeh’s global risk-management firm. Both live in Dallas.

And what of John Mellekas? He had never been quoted about the fight. I called his home on an October afternoon, and he answered. I identified myself and asked if we could talk about his football career, but I also told him I was going to ask about ’63 and Ben Scotti. “I don’t talk about that,” Mellekas said abruptly. “I lost everything with that. My family. . . . I lost everything. Leave it out. Goodbye.”

Two days later I contacted Mellekas’s son Steve, 46, a Connecticut State Police lieutenant and the second youngest of John’s five children. He explained that his dad is a sweet, stubborn man who despises being associated with that night in Philadelphia. More than once Steve has tried to get the story from his father and never picked up more than a nugget or two. In junior high school Steve found Gross’s piece about the fight in an anthology of sports stories, and his father was deeply unhappy about it. But Steve also said the family would be thrilled if John’s story were told. I tried John again the next day, and, haltingly, we found some conversational ground.

John Mellekas played through the end of the 1963 season, then moved back to Rhode Island. He became a gym instructor and beloved member of his community. (Michael J. LeBrecht III/Sports Illustrated)
John Mellekas played through the end of the 1963 season, then moved back to Newport, R.I., where he became a gym teacher, restaurant owner and pillar of the community. (Michael J. LeBrecht II for Sports Illustrated)

Mellekas, 80, grew up in Newport and played football at Arizona. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Bears. George Halas flew out to Phoenix to sign him. Mellekas was a backup swing tackle for Chicago in ’56, spent a year in the Army (where he was on the Fort Dix team with Rosey Grier, among others) and then played four more years with the Bears. He loved it, teaming up with legendary linebacker Bill George and towering defensive end Doug Atkins. Mellekas met Martha Tsopelas, three years in the U.S. from Greece, at a Greek church in Chicago in 1958, and they were married just over a month later in Newport. “She was in the choir,” says Mellekas. “She was lucky I came along. No, not really. I’m the lucky one.”

Halas shipped him off to San Francisco after the 1961 season, but Mellekas says Papa Bear told him he was welcome back in Chicago anytime. When the 49ers cut him in ’63, Mellekas instead signed with Philadelphia. “Stupid me,” he says. “I was too proud to ask Mr. Halas for another chance. That was my mistake.” He made the Eagles and played defensive tackle. Where Scotti was explosive, Mellekas was nimble—a former basketball player who used quickness and speed to make plays.

Now it is Mellekas who brings up the Scotti incident. “I wasn’t even going to play that week,” he says. “I had a broken ankle.” He pauses. “I’m sorry if I was rude to you the other day,” he says. “I just never wanted my kids and my grandchildren to have to read about this. I don’t have a side of the story to tell.”

But he does. “I remember the meeting,” says Mellekas. “They told us we were going to play, and I figured we would. I really didn’t care one way or the other. [Scotti] said I called [Rozelle] a guinea. I would never use that word. I’m [of] Greek descent. I’m not a troublemaker. I never dealt with a person like [Scotti]. We walked out into the hallway, to the landing, and the next thing I remember I woke up in the hospital. That’s all I know.”

According to Steve, “My father always said, ‘I don’t know what he hit me with, if it was a fire extinguisher or maybe a soda can.’ ” (John remembers a soda machine in the stairwell.)

Martha Mellekas spent three days in the hospital with her husband. She says that on one of those days Scotti’s parents led her next door to the room where Ben was recovering with both his hands in casts. Ben, she says, apologized tearfully for beating John. “He was crying and saying he didn’t know what happened,” says Martha. “Then a few days later he was bragging in the newspaper. I just know I’m thankful that my husband didn’t see that thing coming, whatever he hit him with, because if he did, my husband would have killed that man and he probably would have gone to jail.”

If that thing didn’t happen,” Mellekas says of the fight, “I would have played maybe three more years.

Scotti says he doesn’t remember apologizing to Martha, “but it might have happened. I just can’t tell you I remember it.”

Skorich suspended Mellekas and Scotti the day after the fight. Scotti says he and Mellekas shook hands after meeting with Skorich later that week; Mellekas says he doesn’t remember that meeting or shaking hands with Scotti. By the end of the week Scotti was waived. Mellekas paid a $500 fine, rallied from the ankle injury and facial damage and played on Dec. 1, against Pittsburgh. He finished out the season and retired. “If that thing didn’t happen,” he says, “I would have played maybe three more years.”

But his initial response to me, that he “lost everything” in the fight? Well, that’s not true. John Stavros Mellekas went back home to Newport and worked 33 years as an elementary school gym teacher and helped coach a junior high football team. From 1967 to ’83 he and his family operated a Greek restaurant and bar called The Odyssey. His five children—three daughters and two sons—have given him nine grandchildren. “He’s a real old-school, top-notch guy, with a wonderful reputation around town,” says Rick McGowan, who was a sportswriter at the Newport Daily News for 35 years until his retirement in 2011.

Mellekas goes back to Chicago every year for team reunions and follows the Bears on television. “I’ve had a great life,” he says. “Except for one interruption.”

* * *

Bobby Mitchell and the Redskins played in Philly that Sunday, though players described the atmosphere as churchlike. (AP)
Bobby Mitchell and the Redskins played in Philly that Sunday, though those in the crowd described the atmosphere as churchlike. (AP)

They played the games that Sunday, like every other Sunday. They played in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and New York City. Every stadium was packed. “There were, at Yankee Stadium yesterday, 63,800 who went through the turnstiles,” wrote Stan Isaacs in Newsday. “Nobody twisted anybody’s arm.” It was perhaps the very first inkling of the real power of the NFL. Or perhaps people just needed a place to gather. A sellout crowd of 60,671 filled Franklin Field to watch the Eagles host the Redskins. A bugler played taps before the game, and Eagles flanker Tommy McDonald recalls feeling tears roll down his cheeks.

“It almost felt like we were all in church, not in a football stadium,” says Betty Lou Tarasovic, wife of Eagles lineman George Tarasovic. “It was crowded, but there was none of that raucous feeling you usually have at a football game. It was solemn. I remember right after the game started, the announcer said that Oswald had been shot in Dallas.” (Oswald’s murder by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, at 11:21 CST in the Dallas police headquarters, had been shown live on national television. None of the NFL games that day were broadcast on network TV.)

The Redskins scored 13 points in the first half and held on for a 13–10 victory. “It was a lousy-played game,” says Mitchell. “We were all out of it, just going through the motions. I can’t hardly remember anything about it.” That seems to be true for all the players, who can’t relate a specific memory.

It was a lousy-played game,” says Mitchell. “We were all just going through the motions.

Years later Rozelle would call the decision to play on that Sunday the worst of his 29-year commissionership. But the Eagles remember another response. During the 1964 season Robert Kennedy visited the team. “He told us we did the right thing by playing,” says Baughan. “He said that’s what his brother would have wanted.” It’s an absolution that many of them have carried into old age.

The Redskins returned to a devastated capital on Sunday evening. Kicker Bob Khayat, Ed’s younger brother, who had booted two field goals at Franklin Field, walked out of Union Station to find a line that snaked for miles. Citizens were waiting for their turn to file past the casket of the slain 46-year-old president in the Capitol rotunda. “I got in the line,” says Khayat, who would later become chancellor of Ole Miss. “I don’t know why. I just felt so deeply vulnerable and sad. So I got in the line.” 

The viewing line stretching from the Capitol on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 24. (AP)
The viewing line stretching from the Capitol on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 24. (AP)

More than a year and a half later, the 49ers played an exhibition game at Brown University Stadium in Providence. Some of the players visited Mellekas a few days before the game at his house in Newport, the same one he lives in today. They batted around stories from their one season together while Martha made dinner. Among those who didn’t visit was Ben Scotti, who would soon be cut by San Francisco and begin his lucrative second career.

As Scotti boarded the Niners’ team bus a day later, he saw Mellekas standing nearby with two of his small children. The men made eye contact but did not speak. They have not spoken since, bound together yet divided by a wound 50 years deep.

 

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92 comments
fletch-lives
fletch-lives

It was a terrible day, I remember it like it was yesterday. Tensions were high for all.  People dealt with the tragedy as best they could. Sounds like these two guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in the perfect storm of the day. Though Ben Scotti may have stood victorious in this incident, there were truly no winners that sad day.  What a well-written and emotional article!  Thank you for sharing the story.

donpalmer
donpalmer

I remember my father telling me this story once or twice. Scotti played for "his"  Redskins for a couple years and he said he got a bad rap in regards to the fight that the story so prominently mentions. This is a 50 year old story here folks, we're talking about 75 and 80 year old guys who are family men with probably lots of grandchildren for  heavens sake. All the name calling seems a bit out of place and a bit juvenile.  Remember that  these guys are cut from the same cloth at these two gents: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EB7-ook9aY

FrankRizzoRizzo
FrankRizzoRizzo

I'm surprised their weren't more incidents that weekend.  So much tension and sadness.  

Well written.

Hector19
Hector19

I wonder if this is all a ploy for Mellokust to file a grievance with the NFL against Scotti for bullying??? What a joke.

And again, unless Scotti was a ninja back then carrying numchucks, i dont believe weapons were involved. Get the sarcasm?

scottisucks
scottisucks

There is only one issue with this story that ruins the piece, and in my opinion, the integrity of the author. The fact that Ben Scotti ruthlessly beat Mellekas after the fight had already been decided is sickening. The author should have asked Scotti why he beat Mellekas rather than asking about the context of the fight, since obviously no one can remember the details. The rest of the article is littered with he said she said accusations. However, what we do know is that Scotti beat an unconscious man. The fact that he doesn't show remorse for his actions is unnerving. I think that the article indirectly glorifies Scotti while trying to provide some sympathy for Mellekas. Unfortunately only the former is accomplished since Mellekas doesnt have much to do with what happened. Regardless of whether he used a racial slur, he did not deserve to be beaten in the way he was. So basically the author used the controversy of a disgusting fight to promote an otherwise irrelevant story about how the NFL dealt with the Kennedy tragedy.

greece
greece

@Hector19 you keep bringing up the fact that this "fight" was all from a ethnic slur. the ethnic slur was NEVER proven, as STATED. this was clearly a cheap shot fight. if scotti was a real man he would have fought him man to man, face to FACE, not sucker punched from behind. ANDDDD since when did Italians and greeks slur eachother? I think Scotti was just looking for a excuse to attack somebody. but that's just my opinion.

palwit2
palwit2

According to Mellekas he was sucker punched with a weapon, that doesn't sound like a fight to me. Scotti was obviously intimidated by Mellekas and grabbed the first thing he saw, whatever it may be. anyways the fact that he denies apologizing to the family then gloating about the fight shows the kind of person he is, can you actually believe a word scotti says? no

greece
greece

scotti says mellekas uses a racial slur. mellekas dienies it. they walk into a room together to have a fight normel fight men stand toe to toe mellkas did not see the phantom punch. from the way I see it looks like mellekas was sucker punched our hit with something else.scotti was waived mellekas finised the season.draw your own conculsion. 

WhatsFair
WhatsFair

I am glad to see there are other intelligent Americans on this thread who have a distaste for racist comments.  Scotti not only had the courage to stand up for Italian Americans but for all Americans whether they be of African, Hispanic, Asian or any descent we are all one!  So i applaud Scotti in this instance in such an emotional time for the nation and the NFL.

"My fellow Americans ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country" John F. Kennedy, 1961

retroarama
retroarama

Like millions of others, I will forever recall  November 22, 1963 and the days that followed as  a childhood weekend transfixed by TV. As disappointed as I was to miss my favorite cartoons, my football fanatic father was equally disappointed that the NY Giants football game was blacked out. The sold out football game between the Giants and the St Louis Cardinals  at Yankee Stadium would still be played but the game would not be televised. Although WNEW radio promised to broadcast the game, Dad never got around to listening to it.

In a weekend that never seemed to end, it would be a series of sounds and images emanating from our own TV sets that would remain in the minds of those of us who watched. The startling live  shooting of Oswald forever changed the landscape of TV. Television would never be the same ; neither would we.
http://wp.me/p2qifI-1Qc

sumati87
sumati87

Great piece Layden, wow. I don’t think people understand the pain the country was in at the time. The NFL should have called off the games, and let the country and players mourn. The only thing I can relate it to is 9/11 and this was a terrible time for our country.

It sounds like Mellekas and a few of the other teammates were out of line criticizing the commissioner and making racial slurs at a time like this. I’m glad Scotti stood up against this kind of disrespectful behavior.

JerryLazar
JerryLazar

The best new book on JFK's assassination is an imaginative and meticulously researched alternate-history novel in which he DOESN'T get assassinated ... but instead survives the Dallas ambush and then (with his attorney-general brother Bobby) tries to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him and seek revenge... They become the original conspiracy theorists!... The climax is shocking but entirely plausible -- not a sci-fi time-travel fantasy... It's called "Surrounded By Enemies : What if Kennedy Survived Dallas?", by award-winning screenwriter and journalist Bryce Zabel... And this novel contains more truth than most non-fiction JFK assassination accounts!....Check it out at http://www.SurroundedByEnemies.com and http://www.WhatIfJFKLived.com ... 


WhatsFair
WhatsFair

@dontcallmejimma couldn't have said it better myself.  He lit candles out of respect for the great late JFK even before any of the racial slurs against Rozelle were thrown demonstrating real character.  Then having to hear inflammatory racist comments from a teammate none the less.  I commend Scotti for having the courage to stand up for what's right.

dontcallmejimma
dontcallmejimma

What happened to the days when men were men, and stood up for what they believed in, right or wrong, and did what they had to do? In the PC, white bread, 'touch me and I'll sue' world we live in now sure there would have been a lawsuit and damages awarded if a fight like this broke out in an NFL locker room. But let's not forget, a lesser player than Scotti would have retained council, filed a grievance with the NFLPA for workplace harassment, bitched about it on twitter, and then a week later maybe, just maybe he'd stand up for himself, his heritage and the assassinated President whom he loved and respected and give the guy a beating to shut him up. So let's not be so quick to judge with the 'thug' and ever so recently popular 'bully' monikers, it's so cliched. Two men argued, two men fought, one man caught a beating. The End.

WhatsFair
WhatsFair

@Hector19 Exactly..I have a zero tolerance policy for racism and ethnic slurs, especially growing up in a time of great civil rights progress.  Me thinks some of the peanut gallery are throwing around terms like hidden object, sucker punch the like to deflect culpability.


Hector19
Hector19

I wonder how many of you people actually read the story about what caused the fight? Did anyone in here happen to read that Ben Scotti was called a very disparaging and ethnically insensitive remark, and repeatedly at that, during a very sensitive time? What article are you other commenters reading? You people are inventing a fantasy here. How is the act of defending your ethnic heritage thuggish, bullying or somehow the act of a punk? Yes, sure, Ben Scotti is clearly the "bully," not the much larger lineman who was repeatedly teasing him and insulting him! Scotti was clearly a very tough and freakishly strong man - 19 inch neck! Are you kidding me??? How about personal responsibility people? You don't insult or disrespect a man's heritage and expect him to take it lightly, especially judging from the opinions of his own teammates who stated how rough he was. Homicidal and cowardly behavior? Really? What kind of fights are you guys used to anyway - pillow fights? Give me a break. Mellekas got his butt kicked because he couldn't keep his mouth shut and insulted this man's heritage. Good for Scotti for standing up. End of story.

WhatsFair
WhatsFair

@Hector19 Yes, phantom comments about a mystery object or brick or extinguisher I feel are intentionally being thrown in the mix by others to confuse people who didn't read the article.  Was a square fight and men were men.

B29Bomber
B29Bomber

- how ironic. Name calling is what got the loser Mellukas into trouble to begin with. We know how that panned out for Mamallukas! Don't you people ever learn? It's not too nice to call someone names....

WhatsFair
WhatsFair

Also read ronzoni's commnet or some of the historic articles as well with quotes from teammates corroborating the truth and Scotti's honor.

WhatsFair
WhatsFair

@scottisucks Your choice of moniker is sickening and shows your cards.  How about a name like ted or something else.


Scotti rules!

B29Bomber
B29Bomber

Still smarting from an event 50 years ago Greece? Guess what, Rome conquered Greece millennia before, and we all know history repeats itself. Italy won out here - sorry. But then again you don't follow what is in fact history, that has been verified by many writers (including Milton Grosse and the famous boxing analyst Larry Merchant); rather, you modify it to defend your own positions. Mellekas had plenty of time over the years to: call a press conference, press charges, hire a private eye to find the mystery object, file a grievance, speak out against this villain and bully, deny use of the ethnic slur - or maybe he just realized he was wrong and just had nothing to say. What could he say? A smaller man beat me down because I called him an ethnic slur time and time again. He took his beating like a man. Good for him. But that's just my opinion.

WhatsFair
WhatsFair

@greece @Hector19 I am going to use a ufc reference.  if Matt Hughes (a super strong fit 179 pounder) knocked out Larry Holmes which is what would happen today (80 lb weight difference) would Larry Holmes make up a story and say he got sucker punched or did the super strong and fit Matt Hughes win.


Also let's not forget the winner of a fight doesn't get penalized for defending himself.  It does not deflect culpability which seems evident in this camp.  The teammates, history show Scotti's honor.  Period.

B29Bomber
B29Bomber

You guys got it all wrong. I think Scotti hit Mellekas with a soda machine not a soda can. Or maybe he ran over him while driving a fire truck, forget a fire extinguisher. And just maybe Cindarella's fairy godmother appeared and turned Mellekas' noggin into a pumpkin. Keep telling yourselves what you want to hear, keep spinning it, keep up the fantasies. If y'all had any sense you'd stay silent like Mellekas - Scotti said it all. The proof is in the pudding, I mean the pumpkin.

johnnyronzoni
johnnyronzoni

So you believe the word of someone who has chosen to remain silent on the issue for 50 years? Plenty of time for revisionist history. 

inthepresent
inthepresent

@WhatsFair 

closing with a famous quote from JFK doesn't justify the beating an unconscious man. 

and your efforts to make it something of a noble conquest on behalf of all Americans is equally disturbing. 

inthepresent
inthepresent

@sumati87 

and continued to beat a man long after he was already unconscious ? 

bravo. 


Allan B
Allan B

@WhatsFair 
If you go by his word, of course.
Nobody else confirmed his side of the story.

inthepresent
inthepresent

@WhatsFair 

how is the hidden object or sucker punch or culpability you speak of related to beating an unconscious man ? 

his actions and comments from then to now are the marks of an arrogant repulsive man.


SIreaderSA
SIreaderSA

@Hector19 Even if this incident was a "fight"... And even if Scotti "won" this "fight", explain why he beat the unconscious man to the point that he severely injures his hands.  You can't and he can't explain it... Scotti was obviously a lunatic, and lunatics rarely fight fair.  That seems to explain things better.  The lunatic ambushed the other man, knocked him out, and worked him over... period.  

Facts and circumstances indicate that Scotti was taken off Mellekas by other teammates while still punching. Scotti claims in Gross' article that the two consented to fight in a locked room... this reportedly is false by several accounts.  If Scotti wanted to stand up for himself and his honor, he should have went toe to toe.... every thing else is BS... get it? 

inthepresent
inthepresent

@WhatsFair @Hector19

and again, you still haven't addressed the fact that it seems he never apologized for (and even seemed to brag about) beating an unconscious man. 

why haven't you? do you think it was ok ?

inthepresent
inthepresent

@B29Bomber 

intentionally misspelling someone's name is pedantic. it is spelled mellekas. 

but your monker is a tough one. it involves a "bomber". that's a man's word. 

i don't imagine you're very tough in real life, though. but behind a keyboard suits your needs. 

well done, internet tough guy.  

inthepresent
inthepresent

@B29Bomber

mellekas could have done all of those things but maybe he wanted to leave it in the past. 

speaking of the past, here we come to what's really grinding your gears. it is an italian heritage thing. 

God bless. 

italian heritage of the past 75 years: italy was part of the axis powers - playing cheap prostitute to hitler - and mussolini came to an  ignominious end. is that what you're referring to ? 

no. history has nothing to do with your vitriol. you're just an angry man, venting your bile on the internet. but that's just my opinion. 

carry on, then. 

inthepresent
inthepresent

@B29Bomber 

but in order for your point ot be understood, it needs to make sense. 

here's a mulligan. try again. 


B29Bomber
B29Bomber

You cite to Baughan as if his statement carries the same legal weight as an opinion just handed down by the Supreme Court. Okay we can play the legal game if you want, using witness statements as proof of fact. But then again we can also use them as rebuttal evidence to question, character, credibility and raise doubt. Try this one on for size - http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20131124_JFK_and_the_NFL_s_mourning_game.html. Here I'll help you and post the relevant paragraphs: The team held a meeting to go over strategy and a heated discussion broke out as to whether the Eagles should play or not. Ben Scotti, a hot-tempered 6-1, 185-pound defensive back, and John Mellekas, a 6-3, 255-pound defensive tackle, got into it.

"I witnessed the fight; in the meeting, Mellekas said something about Rozelle and Scotti thought he was talking about Kennedy," Baughan recalled. "There was a misunderstanding between Ben and Mellekas. Mellekas didn't want to play the game, and he said something about that. So after the meeting, they were jawing at each other next to a coatroom. That's when they went in there and went at it. Scotti had a ring on his finger and he was pounding on Mellekas, who definitely got the short end of the stick. He had blood all over him. Ben was a bit of a hothead, but he was a friend of mine."

Both players, according to Baughan, went to the hospital. Mellekas was treated for cuts and bruises, and Scotti had his gashed finger stitched. It worked out well for Scotti. He didn't play the next day.

Baughan's story here has some different and/or additional views. So let's take what is a common thread in his statements since that's how "evidence" in a legal sense is corroborated. Scotti was a hothead, there was a verbal disagreement, and Scotti got the best of him and made him pay. Weapons? Unsubstantiated! Had to pull him off? No mention here! Sucker punches? Not corroborated. Ambushed? I'll quote your favorite source- "They went in there and went at it!" Facts are facts - deal with it people - the smaller tougher man destroyed a man who incessantly teased him and his heritage - he was defending his honor and was unstoppable in the heated moment. He didn't care about his hands being bloody. Mellekas was too arrogant to see the situation he created - he could have apologized or backed down (like Quinlan) - he chose not too. You just don't want Mellekas to take responsibility for his actions because you don't like the outcome right? I can't say I blame you so you go ahead and keep inventing the fantasy. Clearly, Scotti was not a man to be trifled with. Where are your "facts and circumstances" now? Here's a fact for you - I want Scotti on my side in a fight - you can gladly have Mellekas. You mess with the Bull Scotti you're gonna get the horns.

inthepresent
inthepresent

@FrankRizzoRizzo 

apparently you've failed to read the other accounts of the story some of which were actually spoon-fed to you in this very article and the comments below. 

but you can't be bothered with those. you have facts

and resorting to name-calling when having a discussion is a sure sign of either  weakness of character or weakness in the argument. not sure if only one or both apply to you. 

carry on. 


FrankRizzoRizzo
FrankRizzoRizzo

I forgot, you were in the room when the fight happened. his own teammate, Maxie saw the fight, philly.com. Fact.

Stand by this, you're a scumbag. Only losers carry on like you do. That's a fact.

The End

inthepresent
inthepresent

@FrankRizzoRizzo 

i see you still haven't addressed the actual points i've raised, frankie. 

it would take reading, comprehending and responding. you've done the first, but probably not much of the second, and certainly none of the third. 

i'd be delighted to debate any point with you. what's "weak" is your (non)response. 

the sum of my arguments is that scotti was and is a scumbag. i stand by it. if you want some variety on my opinions of him, i can give it the old college try. but only for you frankie, because you're such a good sport. 

happy thanksgiving. 

FrankRizzoRizzo
FrankRizzoRizzo

Your commentary is weak, your opinions lacking in substance. All you can say is a man is a scumbag. Wonderful thoughtfulness and depth.

inthepresent
inthepresent

@B29Bomber 

what seems to be the consensus is that he lost consciousness when he was hit with a cheap shot. by scotti. 

perhaps you think that this is a good tactic. i wouldn't expect any less after reading a few of your comments.  

i've been in my fair share of fights. i've lost some and i've won some. i've never hit a man after he's given up and certainly not if he were unconscious. perhaps you have. again, i would certainly think it possible after perusing your comments. that's not called finishing a fight. that's called being a thug. perhaps you listen to music that glorifies that sort of thing. in any case, you've shown what an upstanding man of integrity you are. congratulations.    

scotti was - and still is - a scumbag thug. 

B29Bomber
B29Bomber

An unconscious man? And how did he lose consciousness? Oh I forgot, Scotti gave him a beating - its called what happens when you're in a fighting frenzy. It's called adrenaline. Guys go down in fights all the time and continue to get hit. Tell you what, stick to the safety of the couch and the Atari, Sega, Nintendo, Playstation or whatever other console your generation played. Avoid any confrontations period - you might actually get hit by a spitball during one. Apologize? For what? Sorry for finishing a fight that he didn't instigate? You people have no sense of reality. It's a rough world and someone got a rude awakening... Nah wait I mean an overdue visit from the Sandman.

inthepresent
inthepresent

@FrankRizzoRizzo @inthepresent 

i'd feel rather silly wearing a dress. 

but i am still left wondering why you haven't addressed the issue i raised. 

does it bother you that he beat an unconscious man? 


FrankRizzoRizzo
FrankRizzoRizzo

@inthepresent Address?  maybe you should wear a dress since you keep rambling on like a woman about the same thing


oh the horror!!!! 


B29Bomber
B29Bomber

@inthepresent @B29Bomber


It’s amazing to come back on here and see all your responses – I’m flattered you would give my comments so much attention - guess I struck a nerve.   So I read your responses and thought, perhaps this poor fellow needs a few explanations "spoon fed" to him.  Your fellow poster's moniker is Greece, so he got Italy; another said Pearl Harbored and that elicited the Bomber moniker.  Feel better now?  And the fantasy claims of the soda can/fire extinguisher, coupled with the pumpkin head analogy about John's noggin?  It's a fantasy Cinderella reference where the carriage turned into... wait for it... a pumpkin, and so on.  But I guess you missed that and want to make it personal, make it all about me.  Again, I'm flattered.  But I noticed your (non)responses were very terse at best and could not address (at all) the other salient points made in my detailed explanation of Baugh's second account.  I'm still waiting for your article references and or citations to all of the other witness accounts that were "spoon fed" to us peasants....  Careful, your arrogance and ignorance are showing.  


A classic hypocrite - "and resorting to name-calling when having a discussion is a sure sign of either  weakness of character or weakness in the argument" – is what you posted elsewhere previously.  I see… but no issue with a fellow commenters disgusting moniker, yet you attack a moniker (and me) that doesn't insult anyone.  How macho - how tough!  How about calling a man a scumbag who is not in your presence to defend himself?    Or what about posting internet comments in such a spiteful manner, and you did this on Thanksgiving nonetheless (WOW).  Internet tough guy?  Look in the mirror.  You're one to talk - so honorable.  But then again, you already knew that. 


Glad you liked the heritage reference and thanks for your Mussolini comment (by the way, since we are delving into much more recent history, read any good stories about Greece's economy lately?) - guess you missed the symbolism since this is an article about ethnic heritage - along with the assassination of the president and the sadness and grief it caused, which you seem to gloss over as you obsess over this man Mr. Scotti.


A Greek called an Italian guinea-bast***.  The Italian defended his heritage.  Rome conquers Greece?  Get it? Go ahead and insert the requisite "don't you care that he was unconscious" comment here please - guess what, nobody cares about your self-serving comments that you would never do such a thing and your otherwise self-righteous comments about how you would behave in a fight.  It's insipid.  Get your own article, one written about your fights, so everyone can comment on the minutiae of your behavior before, during and after.  Oh wait, again nobody cares about your story.


I'm curious why you care so much about this "unconsciousness" idea that you obsessively ask the same question?    Tell me, why are you obsessed with this man, posting for days on end in here?  Actually, I don't really care.  That's your problem.  "Mellekas could have done all of those things, but maybe he wanted to leave it in the past."  That's great.  A man who does nothing, with all of those options, a man who was so wronged.  At the very least he should have denied "the Ben Scotti version" that Mellekas made those the disparaging remarks all those years ago.  But guess what, that's not what we have on record now is it.  In multiple stories.  And that bothers you doesn't it?  Otherwise, why else would you continue to focus on one small part of a fight story that was a tiny part of a world tragedy?  I think you're embarrassed that Mellekas just did absolutely nothing - but that's my opinion.  Why don't you just contact him and find out what he was thinking?  Then you can write your own article with whatever slant you choose to put on it.  Clearly you can't leave it in the past (ooooh - I like that - Mr. In the present!!!!  Got you there - eyes rolling), so why don’t you open up an official inquiry because you have that kind of time on your hands.  What's the matter, the verified by league sources statement doesn't suit you?  That's what we have so deal with it!

Speaking of source materials, you love the idea of a conspiratorial cheap shot / sucker punch by Scotti.  I know it makes you feel better, but again please point to something in the record, counsellor, so we can recognize and possibly validate your position?  What consensus are you talking about?  Anything besides hearsay commentary stated by posters like yourself?  Oh yes, the family statements - also hearsay.  You understand that concept right?  Nothing from John personally....  You have nothing to stand on - in fact you have no comment to the rebuttals I offered of the only teammate who spoke up - Maxie.  Oh and guess what, did you catch his statement that he was Ben's friend - didn't say he was John's did he?  So he must be a scumbag too right?  And guess what, you and your cronies keep citing to Maxie.  That must sting right?  Oh how the air is thick with irony, again.  


You all can't stand the idea that a smaller man could be tougher, and can defend himself and his heritage and in the heat of a terrible moment destroy someone much larger, beat him to a pulp in fact.  And yet he's the villain in your book.  You know nothing about Scotti, except that he pummeled this man and was proud he defended his heritage.  I would be proud too if I shut a much larger man up, one who had been incessantly teasing and insulting me, to the point where he wouldn't and couldn't talk about it.  Again, no commentary from you about personal responsibility - do you think it's right to use ethnic slurs?  “Even in the hypermacho world of pro football, he was recognized as a tough guy….Ben would run up and hit Jim Brown, and his man would catch a touchdown pass in the end zone. All Ben wanted to do was beat the s— out of people on the football field.”  A guy that tough and strong doesn’t need to cheap shot or sucker someone - I’m sorry you just don’t disrespect a man like that, but apparently that’s beyond your and Mellekas’ comprehension.  He should have known better.  Again, Mellekas knows what happened that day and won't talk about it (stammering even to this day) because he was wrong.  He should apologize, but he won't and he didn't. 


So you go ahead and hide behind that computer and post your anonymous Internet graffiti attacking a man's character and making it personal.  You go ahead and be proud standing by that "scumbag" comment – who’s the Internet tough guy?  What a joke!  

SIreaderSA
SIreaderSA

@johnnyronzoni @SIreaderSA @WhatsFair @Allan B so now you doubt Maxie Baughan and the other Eagles?  Baughan tells his account to Layden... that they rush over and find Scotti on top of Mellekas still punching.  They get him off the unconscious and gravely injured man.  What? ...Did Scotti stop, unlock the door, and then resume the beating?  That makes no sense... but more sense than everything you comment... Scotti is less than truthful... 

Quinlan also didn't comment on this matter... is he ashamed and embarrassed?  I suspect he is just grateful that by the grace of God, this lunatic didn't ambush him; but unfortunately Pearl Harbored Mellekas

johnnyronzoni
johnnyronzoni

@SIreaderSA @WhatsFair @Allan B So let's get into these remarks.  So what that Mellekas hasn't spoken about it? Maybe he's embarassed, maybe he's ashamed.  At this point, it's completely irrelevant. 

What other publications specifically have you searched???  If you actually read an earlier post about the fight from Milton Gross, you would have read that an Eagle named Bill Quinlan began with disparaging remarks, and then Mellekas jumped on.   


How do you know that Maxie Baughan got in?  Your comments imply that everything in the article is true, except for what Scotti says.  Sounds like selective reasoning.  Sounds like a discriminating commentary. 


SIreaderSA
SIreaderSA

@WhatsFair @Allan B maybe you should take the time to re read the article.... this time you may notice that Mellekas hasn't commented since the incident.  I also searched those "other" publications, where Scotti was inconsistent with his account... Other Eagles identified another teammate as the taunter toward Scotti.  Scotti also claimed in the publication you cite, that he locked the door... how then did Maxie Baughan and the other Eagles get in? ... they got in because the door wasn't locked and Scotti was not being truthful...then, now, or ever

B29Bomber
B29Bomber

@SIreaderSA


You missed the entire point of the comment!  A ring was not mentioned in Maxie's other account.  If you'll go back and read what I wrote about a common thread in Maxie's statements (and pointed out that this is how evidence in a legal sense is corroborated), then you are left with Scotti was a hothead, there was a verbal disagreement, and Scotti got the best of him and made him pay....  The ring is not mentioned by Maxie in the other account and so my point is that it was not corroborated and unsubstantiated.  So I did not gloss over anything.   Unbelievable.


No I don't get your fascination with a ring.  I don't get how you now shift your entire story just to focus on a ring - no more sucker punch or ambush or weapon (oh wait, sorry I suppose you'd say a ring is a deadly weapon).  Do boxers wear rings?  How are they able to cut up their opponents faces?  And further, speculation that Scotti possibly removed it and continued to administer a beating.  Really?  Is it possible that Scotti cut any number of his other fingers on either hand?   Or just the ring finger?  Hmmmm.  Go read Milton Grosse's story again, the original one from 50 years ago, where he states that BOTH of Scotti's hands were severely bleeding - did he have rings on all of his fingers then?  Your comment about protecting his finger makes no sense.  He didn't care about protecting his fingers - he cared about shutting this man up.  You are just looking for any excuse to make Scotti the bad guy - Mellekas (and you) seemingly refuse to accept the idea of personal responsibility.  Mellekas should not have put himself in the situation to get beat down - he didn't think he would because Scotti was much smaller and because he had gotten away with teasing Scotti incessantly and guess what, the ethnic slur was the final straw that let the Bull out of the ring.  Yes the Bull gave the Bully the horns.  So get over it!



And the personal insult BS remark - you used it twice.  So that makes it doubly clever.  These comments are so asinine.  You guys never produce any material to cite to, nothing in print, only conjecture.  Never an investigation - so sorry about that....  The original story written by Grosse "was verified to me by league sources."  That's the closet to a record you're ever going to get.  Deal with it or don't - makes no difference to me. 

SIreaderSA
SIreaderSA

@B29Bomber Just read the article... You seem to skim over the "ring" part.  "Ring" or was Scotti telling people about the ring, because he knew fists couldn't cause that much damage?  "Ring" right?  Also how come this ring didn't protect his hand from the cut... that's weird.  Maybe he took it off to continue the beating?  The bottom line is all facts are not corroborated because there was no investigation into the incident.  You mess with the bull you get BS... get it? 

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