On May 6, Nihon University played Kwansei Gakuin University, two rivals in Japan’s small but growing college football scene. At one point in the game, Nihon defender Taisuke Miyagawa attacked Kwansei Gakuin’s quarterback in a blatant late hit.
Who would’ve thought Japanese college football would give us the dirtiest late hit of all time?! pic.twitter.com/7X4MdoBlb9
— Laces Out (@LacesOutShow) May 16, 2018
Kwansei Gakuin quarterback Kosei Okuno suffered ligament injuries to his knee and spine, and has since filed a case with police.
The nation was so disturbed, in fact, by the play that Miyagawa held a press conference Tuesday before a packed house at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo and broadcast to a national audience. He expressed remorse for the play while saying the late hit was ordered by his head coach.
“After the practice (on May 5), coach Inoue said to me, ‘I asked head coach what you would need to do to play in the game, he said if you squash the quarterback on the first play, we would let you play. So go tell him ‘I’ll squash the quarterback, so use me,’ ” Miyagawa said, according to the Japan Times.
Miyagawa went through with the order, he said, because Nihon head coach Masato Uchida questioned his “drive and fighting morale,” and executed the hit in order to win back playing time.
“I thought it was an implication that I needed to do it with a strong mind-set as if I would smash (the quarterback) but I really did need to do it,” he said. “So I felt like I had no choice and was in anguish.”
Uchida resigned as head coach of Nihon’s team, and Miyawaga withdrew his spot on Japan’s national team and retired from the sport. “I have no intention of continuing to play American football in the future,” he said. “I don’t even know what I should do from now on.”
Miyawaga held Tuesday’s press conference before a packed house at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo to apologize and clear the air about a controversy that, according to the Associated Press, “shocked many in a country famous for baseball, sumo and good manners.”
Miyagawa, though, declined to answer a question through his lawyer, as to not incriminate himself in a possible criminal investigation. He closed the event by bowing to a 90-degree angle, “a sign of deep remorse in Japan,” according to the AP’s account.
The press conference wasn’t just the end of the affair, though. It was the end of Miyagawa’s career. He withdrew his spot on the Japanese national team and retired from the sport. “I have no intention of continuing to play American football in the future,” Miyagawa said. “I don’t even know what I should do from now on.”