Former Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Mike Rice was defended by two of the team's players in telephone interviews conducted by the Associated Press on Thursday, according to USA Today Sports.
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Forwards Wally Judge and Austin Johnson insist there is another side to Rice, who was shown physically and verbally abusing players in a video shown by ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Tuesday.
"Honestly, a lot of the things that have been seen have been taken out of context," Judge said. "A lot of things that aren't seen are when we grab him and kid around. Like I said before, when people ask me why did I play for him, I told them 'He's a players' coach.'"
Johnson didn't condone Rice's actions shown in the video, but did agree with Judge's description of the coach. "I feel if people had a chance to see the other portions of practice, or had been at practice, their judgment would not be as severe," Johnson said. "I am not saying what he did wasn't wrong, because I do believe it was wrong. But it is also tough because it was a highlight reel of his worst moments."
"He wasn't a guy we hated or despised," Judge added. "After practice, we would all go in the locker room and laugh. It was never a sad face or a hung head."
Rice was fired on Wednesday after initially receiving a $50,000 fine and three-game suspension from the university for what it deemed "inappropriate behavior" in December.
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