I've thrown only one punch in adulthood, and that happened on a soccer pitch.
I was in the Federal Way over-40 league (the league demanded only that we actually be over 40, not necessarily that we acted like it), and I was jawing with some forward. (And you know how forwards are.) In any case, things got a little more personal than they should have, and finally the guy spit at me. I hadn't expected that, so I paused a second while debating what to do -- ignore it? complain to the ref? punch him? I settled on the third option under the theory that some infactions transend the game and therefore call for a response that transends the game. (My wife didn't necessarily fully understand, but apparently the ref did. He listened to both of our stories and let me remain in the game despite league rules demanding a red card for throwing a punch.)
I mention this now because I was envisioning something like that reasoning from Tyrone Marshall's immediate defense of the red card that he picked up Saturday vs. Columbus: "He was coming in being very aggressive. I think he ran into me with his elbow. Being the competitor that I am, I'm not going to take that, you know? I'm going to let him know."
And while I kind of understood, that answer also could be taken as vaguely selfish. Marshall seemed to be standing up for himself while leaving his team a man short in stoppage time of an even game, and now sending them down to Chivas this weekend without him.
However, I asked Marshall a little more about that today -- sparing him my spit/punch story -- and he clarified that he saw his actions as standing up for the team as much as for himself.
"I don't think it's putting yourself ahead of the team," he said. "I think it's trying to give the team an opportunity to win and not lose. They are pressing and we're trying to make sure as defenders that the forwards don't get the upper hand on us, so we have the proper position and all that good stuff. A lot of things come into play in that situation. Never ever will I put myself in front of the team. It's a team effort. If you're not thinking about the team it's a different sport you should be playing, it should be tennis or golf of one of those things."
I also asked if this was one of those situations where he wouldn't have had to act if the referee had proactively kept things under control.
"The best referees in the world are the ones who you don't noticed in the game and manage the game properly," he said. "At that particular point, the lineman called him over and said he saw me hit him with a closed fist. I don't know if from 30 or 40 yards you can see if my hand is closed or not. It's basically a judgement call. That's why I think he's on the line and the referee is in the middle, closer to the play. It's just one of those situations, it happened, and I have to move on and hopefully my team will do well this weekend and my suspension will not hurt the team. It's one of those situations where I'm a competitior and that's what I bring to the table day in and day out. Everybody knows me, and that's how I play and it's not going to be any different next week. If it comes to the same situation it's going to be the same thing. It's one of those things that happened, it went against me and I hope it won't happen again."
Marshall said he will try to put his free weekend to use by having a barbeque with his family, resting his 35-year-old bones, and watching on TV like the rest of us.
"It's going to be tough," he said. "But at the same time, too, I have to utilize these minutes. The game that I'm off, I'll try to take care of my body and keep it strong and fit for when I get back the next time around."
That should be June 13, when San Jose visits.