Oregon tight end Pharaoh Brown reflects on December snow incident and suspension

The Emerald sat down with Oregon tight end Pharaoh Brown this morning and discussed last December’s snowball fight incident, after which Brown was suspended for the Alamo Bowl due to his involvement.

Brown talked about his actions on Dec. 6, the criticism he received, the extensive media attention surrounding the incident and his suspension.

When the snowball fight was happening, did it feel out of control to you?

“It was just a big learning experience, the whole thing. There were over 500 kids there. So, some people looking at it say it was out of control but it really wasn’t out of control. Just having a good time with the students and connecting with them, but it was a learning experience. I think everybody learned from it and put it in the past. It was what it was.”

Coming from Ohio, were you surprised that everyone was making a big deal out of the incident?

“There are snowball fights in Ohio because there’s a lot more snow, so we were used to the snow and being able to drive in it. It wasn’t shocking to where the whole city kind of shut down. Eugene doesn’t own snow plows and it was just a total mess out here.”

Do you think the rarity of snow in Eugene was a big reason people acted the way they did that day?

“That’s part of it. Everybody just wanted to be out sledding — you see people skiing, people getting dragged in the streets by sleds. It was just a fun time for the students. Some people (here) had never even seen snow before.”

How much do you regret throwing the snow on the retired professor?

“I do regret it, but like I said, we all live and learn. It was a mistake. I’m not the only one who made a mistake, but I learned from it. That’s the big thing for me: making sure I just learn from my mistakes and move on.”

Do you think the outrage about yours and other people’s actions that day was blown out of proportion?

“Not really, because I understand now that we (athletes) have a telescope on us more than regular students. With Oregon being a national brand, when stuff like that happens it does get publicity. I mean, stuff does get blown out of proportion but that’s what we signed up for.”

What did it feel like getting criticized on social media after the incident?

“I actually don’t have social media now, so I really don’t pay attention to it, honestly.”

Did you get rid of your social media accounts because of the incident?

“No, I was just spending too much time on it, honestly (laughs). I was on Twitter too much and it’s kind of pointless now. Just too much for me.”

Did you tune that criticism out? It has to be at least a little hard, right?

“It’s not really criticism to me because most of the accounts are, like, makeup accounts. Like Joe Blow from Montana or somewhere, the middle of nowhere. You don’t know who it is, so it’s not like you’ve got credible people. It’s mostly accounts that don’t have profile pictures, so I really don’t pay attention to stuff like that.”

What was one of the worst things you heard or read from that situation?

“There were a lot of racial comments and stuff like that.”

Did that bother you?


How did you find out about your Alamo Bowl suspension?

“I actually had a meeting with coach (Mark) Helfrich. He told me about it and that we were going to go from there, and that’s what it resulted in was a one-game suspension.”

How tough was it not to play in that game?

“It was tough not playing , but still being able to be there and cheer my teammates on and watch them get a victory… It’s always tough being a competitor to just sit there in one of the biggest games — a bowl game that’s always been one of the big games of the season, and have to just sit there and watch. But I’m still glad and blessed to be able to make it down there and cheer them on.”

What were your feelings towards the Emerald’s handling of that situation?

“That’s your job. We all have jobs, and your job is to get the story, negative or positive. With the world we live in today, the negative story is going to get the most publicity than the positive story any day. That’s just the world we live in.”

Was the Emerald’s coverage fair?

“It was on so many networks, I couldn’t even tell who… I was getting a lot of texts from parents. It was on The View, Whoopi Goldberg was talking about, Outside the Lines, it was kind of just everywhere. My uncle does management — he manages recording artists and stuff — and he was in Africa on a tour. He said he woke up and it was in USA Today. And he was all the way in Africa, so it was kind of just out there. I couldn’t really tell who was covering it. It was just ridiculous.”

Was there another moment like that where you realized how big that situation was getting?

“When TMZ called me asking about it, I was like, ‘Woah, if TMZ is calling me asking about the snowball fight, then this is really going viral.’ Being able to witness how social media (reacted) is a learning experience. You really think, ‘Man, I really have to walk a straight line,’ because eyes are always on you and stuff can get all around the world and it was a matter of, what, three days, four days that it was just everywhere? But like I said, it was a learning experience.”

Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415

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