COLLEGE PARK — — Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen and a number of his players criticized the campus newspaper Tuesday for an editorial cartoon making light of the motor-scooter accident that left offensive lineman Pete DeSouza hospitalized with multiple leg fractures.
The cartoon by Morgan Noonan in The Diamondback, an independent campus daily, depicts a woman addressing a player in helmet and full pads. "I didn't think there was a game today," she says.
The player replies: "There isn't. But I'm afraid to hurt myself on my scooter."
Friedgen noted the cartoon during his weekly Tuesday media session at Gossett Football Team House, calling it "insensitive."
"We're very lucky to have Pete with us, trust me," Friedgen said. "*We're pretty sensitive to what kind of jokes are written about it."
Players said they saw the cartoon at breakfast. "I mean, it was an insensitive cartoon is the bottom line," said left tackle R.J. Dill. "I took offense to it."
Said linebacker Alex Wujciak: "It's a messed up thing to do. Kid gets in an accident, it's not even his fault. He's lucky to be alive. And they want to joke about it."
Calls to The Diamondback were referred to the the editorial board. No editorial board member was immediately available to be interviewed.
The cartoon was posted on the newspaper's website, where one reader commented: "Do you realize you're making fun of someone getting hit by a car and breaking both of their legs? How could you possibly think that's a funny thing to joke about?"
DeSouza was injured when a motorist turned left in front of his scooter and collided with him on campus Thursday night. The other driver was ticketed for failing to yield right of way.
Friedgen said DeSouza, a redshirt freshman who attended DeMatha, has been taken out of intensive care and has stabilized.
Maryland used Paul Pinegar at DeSouza's tackle position in Saturday's 24-21 victory over Boston College.
Friedgen said Tuesday that DeOnte Arnett, a second-year defensive lineman from Capitol Heights, has volunteered to switch to the offensive line to bolster the unit's depth. Friedgen said Arnett "might have a future as an offensive lineman."