Fullerton Junior All American Bears

The Fullerton Junior All American Bears are members of the Orange County Junior All American Football Conference (OCJAAF). Comprised of twenty-nine (29) chapter (city) members throughout the Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, OCJAAF is the largest youth football and cheerleading organization in the nation. The Fullerton Junior All American Bears are honored to contribute to OCJAAF's diversity, which makes the Orange County Junior All American Football Conference number one in competition. The Fullerton Junior All American Bears are proud to sponsor OCJAAF's core values of "family" and of "community" - the standards that keep OCJAAF and the Fullerton Junior All American Bears a leading youth football and cheerleading organization. Families come in many combinations and we celebrate the word of "family" as meaning: team, the Fullerton Junior All American Bears, community and the OCJAAF Conference. There is nothing stronger than the spirit in the word of family and you will see it and feel it within the Fullerton Junior All American Bears organization and our OCJAAF Conference.

The objective of the Fullerton Junior All American Bears program is to inspire youth, regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin; to practice the ideals of health, citizenship and character; to bring our youth closer together through the means of a common interest in sportsmanship, fair play and fellowship; to impart to the game elements of safety, sanity and intelligent supervision; and to keep the welfare of the player and/or cheerleader first, foremost and entirely free of adult lust for glory.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pop Warner At It Again

Published: Nov. 9, 2012 Updated: 10:03 p.m.

Mickadeit: Pop Warner clears itself



I'm disappointed national Pop Warner didn't find that a bounty program existed in Tustin, but I can't say I'm surprised. What did you expect? Pop Warner would say, "Yes, our coaches in Orange County conducted a bounty program in which players were paid when they knocked other players out of the game. Parents, please file your lawsuits against us accordingly."?

It doesn't work like that. There are investigations and there are independent investigations.

National Pop Warner's investigation into the Tustin Pop Warner was conducted by an 800-lawyer international law firm that defends Pop Warner in lawsuits. An independent investigation would have been conducted by a law firm or private investigator with no previous ties to Pop Warner and that was instructed to release its own report directly to the public about whatever it found.

This is not to impugn Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, or its L.A.-based attorney, Ian Stewart, who conducted the investigation. Wilson Elser has a fiduciary duty to be a zealous advocate for Pop Warner. The law firm can't lie, but it has no obligation to tell the public what it found and, in fact, it could be guilty of malpractice and face discipline if it did.

Given that, what the law firm conducted looks more like a series of prelitigation depositions than an investigation designed to tell the public anything useful.

Josh Pruce, the national Pop Warner spokesman, told me Friday that Wilson Elser was selected because "they have knowledge of how Pop Warner works." But how can the firm can be impartial when it is looking out for your best interests? I asked. Pruce replied: "I can't speak to that either way. I don't have a comment."

So, we'll probably never know what Stewart's investigation said, exactly, and why and how Pop Warner came to the conclusions it did about what it showed.

All we know about Stewart's investigation is what National Pop Warner released on Friday, a statement that condensed it to two sentences: "The investigation concluded that there was no pay-for-hits program or premeditated bounty system. The investigation did conclude, however, that one player may have been rewarded for his performance in one game."

Keith Sharon and I know what four players and two assistant coaches told us – the head coach and the defensive coordinator offered money for big hits and more money if those hits resulted in an opponent being knocked out of a game.

We know our sources talked to Stewart. As Keith pointed out Friday in the newsroom, there were fewer people who told the NFL about the New Orleans Saints.

Maybe the Tustin players and coaches told Stewart a different story than they told us. Maybe Stewart or Pop Warner concluded they lied or misunderstood and decided to believe the coaches who say no such offers were made. Did he believe some people and not others? Who? Why?

But Pop Warner would not discuss the evidence it collected or release transcripts or even summaries of the interviews. Stewart had not called me back as of my deadline Friday afternoon.

Still, some inferences can be drawn from what Pop Warner did do.

It suspended the entire coaching staff of seven for a full year. If just one player "may have been rewarded for his performance in one game," that seems like a rather Draconian penalty, doesn't it?

Pop Warner's statement says, "We hope members nationwide will learn from this incident and be reminded that the focus should always be on the safety and well being of our young athletes."

Pop Warner, however, doesn't link the player's "performance" or the "reward" for it with the "safety and well being" of players. How, specifically, does rewarding players make the game less safe? How did it do so in this case? To draw that causal connection would come dangerously close to admitting legal liability.

Reading between the lines, my best guess is that this was the best way out of a bad situation. Don't concede liability. But get rid of the bad actors for as long as you can and hope they stay away.

The most important question is: Has Pop Warner done everything it can to protect kids? Without knowing what people told Stewart, we can't know. All we know for sure is that by hiring a top-drawer law firm to conduct an investigation into its own actions, Pop Warner did everything it can to protect itself.

Mickadeit usually writes Mon.-Fri. Contact: 714-796-4994 or fmickadeit@ocregister.com

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