Death In The Afternoon: The Assassination of Joe McKnight by the Cowardly Bastard Ronald Gasser
Joe McKnight is dead at 28.
Back when Joe McKnight was 18, he was considered the very best in the world among his peers that year, at something.
That something, in his case, was playing football.
Have any of you ever for a second been considered the best in the world at anything?
Nah, me neither.
Back when Joe McKnight was a high school star football player in Louisiana, his name was hotter than a fever.
As soon as Joey stepped on the field at the University of Southern California, as a freshman, he made many of us believers.
I definitely counted myself among them.
Joe McKnight had it all: world-class sprinter speed, 'wiggle' as my brothers over at Fiyastarter.com would describe it, along with peripheral vision and toughness.
Toughness that made me, a man who had just watched Reggie Bush for three years, describe Joey as "Reggie Bush with better between-the-tackles ability".
I loved Smokin' Joe McKnight, the football player, as much, if not more, than anyone who ever came thru Troy, during the Pete Carroll era.
That appreciation grew while watching every snap the Trojans took over his three seasons, whether at home at The Los Angeles Coliseum downtown, on TV during their road games or at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
As time passed, one of the things I grew to appreciate most about Joe McKnight, was his uncanny ability to fight on, pun intended, through any and all adversity in his path: hurricanes, migraines, nagging injuries, dragging inquiries, ill-advised schemes or oft-deferred dreams.
After crossing paths with Ronald Gasser, that fight has been permanently stilled.
That feels wildly unfair to me.
But Joe McKnight knew by the time he was a teen, that life could be unfair.
Joe was not always appreciated at USC, at least not the way he was supposed to be.
Most Trojan fans with a degree of self-awareness would probably concede that.
The seeds of that mixed emotion were planted before he even first landed at LAX, in a press conference where the #1 recruit in the country declared, accidentally dry-snitching on his self and USC in the process, that he'd spoken to Reggie Bush, a USC legend playing for Joe's hometown New Orleans Saints, prior to publicly announcing his decision, which is technically an NCAA "infraction".
Never mind that Joe McKnight seeking counsel from a man at the program he was to join, charged with the responsibility of replacing said Heisman Trophy winner, is a practice that would be acceptable in almost any other profession known to man.
It's a practice as acceptable as getting paid for providing a uniquely valuable service.
Still, the sham of "amateurism" as well as the racial injustices of big-time college athletics you can read elsewhere.
This post is about Joe McKnight being murdered.
Joe's life was taken from him on Thursday, as he was continuing to fight his way back from a torn Achilles' that ended his NFL career in Kansas City, after mounting comeback in the CFL, not long before an upcoming private workout with the Minnesota Vikings, healed and healthy while still only 28, an opportunity that had helped to recharge his everlasting battery.
Regardless of what some NCAA clowns say, as someone living local during his stay at Southern Cal, all my indications via verifiable sources, is that Joe McKnight was a “good kid”.
There are certainly a long list of players that I've heard otherwise about.
Do you know how hard it is to remain a good kid at 18, while 3000 miles from home, in a city like Los Angeles, where USC was essentially the city's pro team for two full decades?
Especially being declared the most highly recruited prospect the school has ever landed, while everybody is continually telling you how great you are?
Somehow, Joe McKnight, amidst all those trappings, stayed relatively regular.
That's no small feat in itself, no matter what occurred on a football field.
That alone takes a level of determination and maturity that most, self included, could never dream of having at 18.
Besides that, it helps to come from a good family, as Joe seemed lucky enough to do.
Those things had helped Joe overcome the sometimes savage streets of New Orleans.
As if ducking and dodging the pitfalls of The Big (It Ain't) Easy wasn't difficult enough, Hurricane Katrina arrived in late August 2005, prior to Joe's junior year of high school.
Separated from the mother who raised him for the first 16 years of his life, Joe temporarily relocated to Shreveport, playing a few games for Evangel Christian Academy, in a high school football season tragically truncated by Katrina.
The following season, his last at the high school level, Joe returned to River Ridge in New Orleans and John Curtis Christian High School.
The McKnight family home was completely destroyed by the storm, so they instead rented a one-bedroom apartment, which the family shared during Joe's senior year.
Joe touched the ball 68 times his senior season.
He scored 29 touchdowns.
Joe stood only 5'11" in cleats, while weighing maybe 190 soaking wet, but those are positively Paul Bunyan numbers.
That's a better TD-to-touch average than Kobe Bryant's career field goal percentage.
Still, Joe was an ambitious and hard-working soul who wanted more.
With his hometown in upheaval, you could understand why someone might feel an urge to get away.
Where better to get away to become a world-renown star than L.A.?
Particularly by joining the best college program in the country, coming off three straight seasons of playing for a national championship, in a star-making city without an NFL team?!?
Trojan fans thinking that since Joe never won a national title or did the Heisman pose like the premier tailback preceding him, he was somehow disappointing?
You all need to head to Heritage Hall immediately to take a course in Context 101.
Joe McKnight was great from the moment we all saw him.
Joe McKnight was also saddled with Steve Sarkisian, sans Lane Kiffin, determining when to call his number in one of the more crowded, decorated backfields in FBS history.
Joey split carries with the likes of Emanuel Moody, Chauncey Washington, Stafon Johnson, CJ Gable, Stanley Havili, Allen Bradford and others while breaking in his freshman year with "Next Reggie" expectations.
Joe McKnight was the youngest yet still best of all of them, by a significant margin.
Joe McKnight is third on the all-time yards-per-carry list in USC Trojan tailback history.
This is the place that garnered the name Tailback U.
Joe McKnight's name on that YPC list is above guys you might have heard of before like Mike Garrett, Charles White, Marcus Allen, OJ Simpson.
Joe McKnight, yeah, that was him.
Who among Trojan Fans could forget his freshman year Rose Bowl?
Who among Trojan Fans forgets Joe McKnight's role in The Drive at OSU in The Horseshoe?
Joe McKnight, when his body enabled and coaches abide, really did the damn thing.
Fast-forward to Joe as a pro, navigating the hustle-bustle of New York City, while as a running back/return man registering the longest play from scrimmage in the franchise's history as a Jet.
Joe even scored two touchdowns in his final game as a Kansas City Chief.
Who the hell would wanna kill a little giant like Joe McKnight, as if he was a dog in the street?!?
Some cowardly bastard called Ronald Gasser.
If that name did not sound familiar to you, I don't blame you.
It did not sound familiar to me when I first read it either.
I wish to God that it still didn't.
Now it rings to my soul like a fist to the ear, because Ronald Gasser is by his own admittance, the reason why Joe McKnight is no longer here.
Before last week, those two names never went together.
With Joe's death, they are now tied together forever.
Ronald Gasser doesn't deserve to breathe the same air, let alone be mentioned in the same sentence, as Joe McKnight.
Joe McKnight can no longer draw breath while Ronald Gasser walks free, at least in part because he is white.
Far less reckless than Ronald Gasser proved to be, while operating his vehicle and his firearm.
The black man who killed former Saints great Will Smith, in a "road rage" incident earlier this year, certainly hasn't seen a day outside of penitentiary walls since it happened.
And that was while in an altercation with another armed man, rather than without a weapon, as Joe McKnight was.
This is what we know about the day that this coward killed Joe:
There are eyewitness accounts that said after an issue in traffic crossing the bridge, Ronald Gasser eventually fired off three shots at Joe McKnight from his readily accessible piece in a nearby parking lot.
Accounts differ on whether he was inside or outside of the car before he started firing.
They did not find a weapon on Joe McKnight or in his car.
There were no bruises, scratches, nor any indication from the witnesses gathered that Joe wanted a fight.
This was also not Ronald Glasser’s first aggro-rodeo either.
It wasn't even his first “road rage” incident at that exact intersection.
On that same stretch of road, ten years before he first met Joe, Ronald Gasser followed a man to the same gas station and spit on that man while making him fear for his safety.
He is apparently a chip off the old block.
That man wisely exited the scene.
That man lived to tell us about Ronald Gasser.
In doing so, he adds further detail to the state of civil discourse and scarcity of equal justice in 20SickDream.
Several eyewitnesses said they saw Joe apologizing to Ronald, moments before the first shot rang out.
Three shots later, Joe's fighting spirit was on its way to leaving his body.
A body that a witness said Ronald Gasser is alleged to have stood over and shouted "I told you not to fuck with me!" while Joe's blood drained out.
In what fucking world is a malicious act like that in any way viewed as okay?
What pretzel-logic, legal semantics can you spew to explain why Ronald Gasser is not currently detained?
If this hateful Cowardly Bastard Ronald Gasser truly feared for his life?
He would never attempt to follow a world-class athlete to a stop light.
Unless he had a great equalizer, like a gun, which, like a grudge, he managed to carry.
Otherwise he would have instead stepped hard on the gas, on his way out, like Barry.
The statement from police said this was "not about race".
After letting a confessed murderer walk up out the place.
Someone telling you it's not about something, usually means that's exactly what it's about.
Similar to when someone starts a sentence with "I'm not gonna lie to you", expect to be knee-deep in bullshit soon after.
The police chief said that it wouldn't be fair to give us further details, in order to not taint a future witness.
Yet he managed to publicly discredit the one he's got, plus give potential protesters the business.
Joe McKnight Junior, deserved better than this.
His father Joe McKnight Senior, a former employee of the same police department that let Ronald Gasser walk out the door uncharged, deserved better.
His mother Jennifer, separated from her eldest son 11 years ago by a storm, now separated from him by a senseless death, deserved better.
His older sister Johanna, a basketball star at the University of Richmond, deserved better.
His younger brother Jonathan and especially Joe's young son, who Jonathan had to break the news to that he'd never see his father again, deserved better.
And so do we.
With a legal 72-hour hold optional before charges are filed, there is absolutely no reason that a confessed killer should be in the span of an afternoon, out uncharged and walking free.
Yet somehow, when the cops finally came around, while a once-great shining athletic beacon of hope named Joe McKnight lay on the ground, they didn’t arrest anybody.
They eventually took Ronald Gasser in for questioning because he let them.
Not before an accomplished young man's corpse was guided up onto a gurney, then eventually the morgue, long after his brief life had left his body.
I still believe LOVE will conquer HATE.
But how many more must die young?!?
And for how much longer do we wait?!?
Jefferson Parish Police Department, in the name of truth, justice, and this idealized, aspirational dream called America, we wait impatiently, hoping you do the right thing, and in doing so, honor one young man's memory, while justly ruling on an old man's fate.
Hurry up though, because you're already late.