AUDL Quiet About First Discipline Cases Of 2021 Season

Three players were quietly suspended after an on-field incident between the Dallas Roughnecks and Seattle Cascades in the largest discipline case the league has dealt with to date.

Dallas Roughnecks' Dan Emmons (center) was one of several players involved in an on-field incident during a July 3 game against the Seattle Cascades, and was later suspended by the league. Photo: Alex Ho - The AUDL
Dallas Roughnecks’ Dan Emmons (center) was one of several players involved in an on-field incident during a July 3 game against the Seattle Cascades, and was later quietly suspended by the league. Photo: Alex Ho – The AUDL

On July 9, a story broke via the Sin The Fields Twitter account about a brawl in the July 3 game between the Dallas Roughnecks and the Seattle Cascades. While the version detailed in the tweeted image was exaggerated to match the STF brand, it is indeed true that an incident took place that went largely undetected for several days by anyone who wasn’t at the game. In the time since, the league itself has kept quiet about it and players on both teams have been instructed by team owners not to talk directly about the incident.

As the clock was about to expire at the end of the third quarter of that July 3 game, Seattle’s Manny Eckert put up a long scoober to a striking Marc Munoz. When the throw went up, Dallas’s Dan Emmons peeled off his mark and blocked the throw, preceding a heavy collision with Munoz. Emmons celebrated his block by flexing his arms and slapping his bicep. Munoz, who was shaken up on the play, was still sitting on the turf. That much can all be seen on the AUDL.TV footage before it cut away.

After speaking to people with direct knowledge of the situation, which AUDL.TV does not capture, it sounds like Emmons proceeded to walk in the middle of the field towards his own sideline. As he was walking, some Cascades players jeered at him and the referee, presumably to ask for a foul call on the block. Reacting to their comments, Emmons changed direction and shoved a Seattle player. Many people present rushed to the middle of the field to separate the two players, but a shoving match ensued. In the skirmish, Seattle’s Aidan Lopez-Escarez threw a punch, but was pushed out of the way by Dallas’ Connor Olson so that it did not connect. Lopez-Escarez was then held aside by one of the Seattle staff members and the groups drift apart. When the AUDL.TV footage returned, the teams could be seen returning to their sidelines and with the referees in a huddle. Five players were ejected from the game following the incident before play resumed.

AUDL Commissioner and CEO Steve Hall responded to a request from Ultiworld with the following statement on July 10:

“First, the AUDL does not tolerate excessive physical force at any time. There were five ejections that resulted from an incident after the third quarter in the game played between Dallas and Seattle on July 3rd. The AUDL has a review process in place for ejections and that process was followed in this case.

“As two players went for a disc at the end of the 3rd quarter, there was contact but no penalty occurred and this was confirmed upon further review. After some verbal barbs were exchanged, there was some physical interactions between some players. As mentioned, five players involved were ejected from the game.

“Andrew Lloyd, as Head of Officials, and Steve Hall, the Commissioner, review the officials’ reports, review any available information, and interview all the players involved. Based on that process, which is laid out in our bylaws, the Commissioner decides if there will be additional discipline. Any additional discipline is communicated to the players and they have fourteen days to decide if they will appeal. For this incident, two players were not assessed further discipline, one player was given a 1-game suspension and two players were given 2-game suspensions.

“This is a learning moment for everyone involved and we expect better from our players. As stated, the AUDL does not tolerate any excessive physical force. To be clear, at no time were the police ever involved in the incident. The incident lasted about 30 seconds and the game was played with good spirit in the fourth quarter.”

Ultiworld has learned that Seattle’s Aidan Lopez-Escarez and Dallas’s Dan Emmons were the players given a two-game suspension and the Roughnecks’ Connor Olson was suspended for one game. Emmons played in Dallas’s July 9 loss to Austin, but that was a rescheduled game from a weather postponement in Week 1. He and Olson served their suspensions during the July 10 game against Austin, and Emmons did not play in the July 17 game against Seattle to finish out his suspension. Lopez-Escarez is not planning to appeal his suspension and sat for the July 17 game against Dallas; he presumably will sit out one more game before being eligible to rejoin the active roster.

The league does not currently have a policy about publicly communicating information about player discipline and does not plan to issue a public statement about this incident or the subsequent suspensions. The closest the league has come to doing so came during the July 17 broadcast when the two teams in question met again during the DraftKings Free Frisbee Friday live stream. Evan Lepler, who announced the game, brought up that there had been an incident a few weeks ago, named the players suspended, and mentioned that several Cascades players were wearing “Free Aidan” t-shirts in reference to their suspended teammate. Emmons was shown present on the sideline while serving the second game of his suspension. The two teams had been in communication after the incident and leading up to the rematch, as they worked to repair their relationship.

It is still unclear why the league did not publicize its reaction to the incident. The individuals interviewed by Ultiworld emphasized that the league was not intending to cover anything up but simply didn’t want to sensationalize the incident further.

The play itself is not caught on the broadcast of the game, and most of the fourth quarter of the contest is missing from AUDL.TV, although Hall insisted that the two issues are not connected.

“We had some power issues that game where the stream kept getting knocked out by a lack of power,” said Melissa Battis, the Roughnecks’ Director of Communications. “Due to that, things got weird as we went from stream to stream. I believe that the AUDL is aware of this and, last I heard, were trying to figure out if there was a way to get a better version posted out.”

Roughnecks owners asked players not to speak about the incident; when asked for a comment from the team, Battis wrote, “Especially since we had a doubleheader this last week with each game decided by a single point against our longtime rivals, the Austin Sol, and we are headed into another doubleheader, where both games matter for final ranking. Because of that, we are trying to give our players the chance to focus on what they need to do in order to be ready for each new game. I appreciate and understand your desire for a comment, however, we have asked our players not to comment and to focus on the future games rather than rehashing things from the past. We stand by the decisions made by the league and the statement that they gave to Ultiworld and are now moving forward to the games we have this weekend.”

The league also declined to comment on the status of Sterling Knoche, who was ejected from Madison’s Week 5 game against Chicago after two flagrant fouls — one bad bid into a Union cutter’s back and one seemingly intentional trip against Nate Goff. Both of those moments were captured during the game broadcast, though it is unclear if the events went through the same review process as the incident in Seattle.

AUDL suspensions have been rare historically, and they have not typically been publicized. In 2015, Cannons head coach Tuba Benson-Jaja was disciplined for making contact with a referee during a playoff game and suspended for the 2016 season opener. That same year, the league suspended Geoff Powell of the Toronto Rush for what it deemed a dangerous bid — which AUDL commissioner at the time Steve Gordon addressed in an official league statement. This offseason, the league updated its Player Code of Conduct because of an off-field incident that the league commented publicly on with a post on its website. But the league has been much slower to comment on the on-field suspensions this season.

  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years, but now spends his time playing pickup and coaching de Toledo High School in Los Angeles. You can reach him through e-mail (rubin.alex14@gmail.com) or Twitter (@arubes14 or @dthsultimate).

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