Gerald Seeks Closure After Incident With Former Boss Locksley at New Mexico
Gerald was the wide receivers coach at New Mexico, brought in from Illinois after serving the previous five months as a offensive quality control coach. He didn't know Locksley well, certainly not as well as the majority of the staff -- most of which had known Locksley for more than a decade -- but it was an opportunity to be a true assistant coach and steadily move up the coaching food chain.
But during fall camp last August, Locksley and Gerald got into a heated argument on the field after Locksley criticized Gerald's receiving corps for not lining up in the right formation. Locksley used profanity, Gerald retorted with a similar tone and the two found themselves engaged in a war of words in front of their fellow coaches and players.
"There were a lot more choice words on his part from the get go," Gerald told FanHouse. "And I did say, 'Well, get them effing lined up then.' And that was after several minutes and kind of just verbal attacks and profanity. From a man to another man in that type of situation, if you're going to disrespect me, curse me out in front of my players and all that ... it did escalate at the end just through words. It wasn't anything physical and those things happen."
While parties simmered down and practice eventually concluded, what happened after practice foreshadowed a transgression where Locksley allegedly choked and punched Gerald during a coaches meeting in September.
"As we were walking off the field, he pulled me aside and said, 'I will slap your ass right now.' And I said, 'No you won't,'" Gerald said. "And he said, 'I will slap your ass right now in front of everyone.' And then we went our separate ways. From that point on, I knew our relationship is strictly professional."
Gerald said the incident changed his whole demeanor. He stopped chit-chatting with Locksley and cracking jokes in meetings and when the coaches were together. The relationship was strained and the work environment tense.
Even Locksley acknowledges that, if the right steps had been taken in August, the incident on Sept. 20 could have been avoided.
"In August, when we had our first incident on the field, in hindsight, I should have handled it then," Locksley said. "In my mind, I was an older coach mentoring a younger coach, I tried to bring him along and I tried to mentor him through our differences of opinion of how things should be done."
Gerald doesn't coach anymore and isn't sure if he'll ever make it back to major college football. He's currently teaching sixth and seventh grade science at a charter school in Washington, D.C. He recently filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque against Locksley and the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. The suit claims that Locksley choked Gerald, punched him and used profanity in front of his peers and student-athletes. The suit also alleges racial discrimination by the school. It's Gerald's second suit. The first, filed to the U.S. EEOC, was dismissed.
Gerald said the suit isn't for money, but rather accountability by a university he claims handled the matter poorly. It's also a measure of closure on an event that has altered his life forever.
"No matter under what circumstances, that's just not something a respecting adult does to another adult," Gerald said of Locksley's action on Sept. 20. "I think from that standpoint, it could have been avoided and it should have been avoided by just not doing it. You don't put your hands on anyone no matter what. And that's where the line got crossed.
"It's unfortunate because you kind of get put back down to ground zero after an incident like this. I'll rebound. It's just another obstacle that I have to hurdle over on account of somebody else's actions."