If you don't know the facts, you don't know much of anything.
That might be the most factually correct thing I've ever written. And, when it comes to the DUI arrest of Wizards head coach Peter Vermes reported last night, it's worth remembering.
Is it inexcusable for the head coach of a professional sports team to be in this situation? Absolutely.
Is it grounds for a rush to judgment about what his future with the team should be? Not quite.
Not until you know a whole lot more than you know now.
Until Vermes' arraignment on Nov. 9 (coincidentally, that would likely be the Tuesday after the second leg of the first round of the MLS' playoffs), there are likely just two people who know the full story: the arresting officer and Vermes. Which means the facts we have now will have to suffice and the presumption of innocence must be upheld.
When the facts come out later on, we can start to speculate on what this all means for the future of the team. (There are, unfortunately, several examples of high-profile coaches in this situation:St. Louis Cardinal's skipper Tony La Russa, University of Kentucky assistant coach Rod Strickland, Missouri football assistant coach Bruce Walker and Kansas State basketball assistant Dalonte Hill
. None of them lost their jobs in response.)
Knowing Vermes a bit, I have to think that this is the sort of thing that he will deal with head on. He takes responsibility for on-the-field mistakes, he'd be hypocritical if he didn't do the same for off-field mistakes.
He will, at the very least, owe the team, the fans and the community an apology.
For the time being, let's just be thankful that this was an incident that didn't end with anyone (or anything) physically damaged.
But... There is one thing that is fair game to ponder: What will this news mean to the team in the short term?
Athletes and coaches are human, and we all make mistakes. But a head coach should exude leadership, command respect and foster authority. Making poor decisions with the team and even poorer decisions outside the team erode all three of those traits.
The team is riding high and coming off the best results of the season. The playoffs are within reach and the technical changes that Vermes instituted in the offsesaon are starting to pay dividends.
How the team responds (the players to coach, the coaching staff to the team and the ownership to the coach) will be an interesting development over the next few weeks.