LOS ANGELES — University of Southern California offensive lineman Doug Montague on Thursday informed his coaches the broken hand he suffered early this morning occurred as the 320-lb. fifth-year senior heroically rescued six school-aged children from a burning building filled with pedophiles and hungry tigers.
“I don’t want to speculate at this point, but the training staff tells me Doug’s probably going to be out of commission for a few weeks,” Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian said Thursday during his morning briefing ahead of Saturday’s highly anticipated matchup with 13th-ranked Stanford. “It’s a shame because Doug is such a leader on our team and so integral to what we do on offense. But what was he supposed to do? Ignore those kids and let them be molested by sex offenders before they’re ultimately consumed by a ravenous tiger and/or a raging fire? I haven’t known Doug very long, but I do know he’s not the type of guy who would hang those kids out to dry like that.”
Montague’s broken hand comes on the heels of another high-profile Trojan’s own off-the-field injury. Just days before the team’s season-opening 52-13 win over Fresno State, Trojans senior defensive back Josh Shaw, a team captain, suffered ankle sprains in both ankles, an injury the Palmdale native initially told USC staffers occurred during a heroic rescue of his seven-year-old nephew. Apparently noticing his nephew was drowning in a pool, Shaw leapt from a second floor balcony to save the child, hurting his ankles in the process. That story later proved to be a fabrication, shocking Shaw’s teammates, coaches and fans alike, and leading some to question how Sarkisian could so easily be duped by a story that, upon closer inspection, contained such obvious holes.
But in spite of his recent experience with Shaw, Sarkisian, who is in his first year as Trojans head coach, sees no reason to doubt Montague’s own elaborate tale of heroism.
“I’m a football coach, not a zoologist or psychotherapist, so I have no idea how all those tigers and sex offenders happened to converge on the same house at the same time that a handful of unsupervised school-aged children also came about the property,” said Sarkisian. “But tigers and pedophiles seem like a pretty volatile combination to me, so it seems perfectly reasonable that a residence filled with especially large feral cats and men with a sexual attraction to children would spontaneously combust right around two in the morning when bars have just announced last call. I just thank God Doug was there to save those kids, which is even more impressive when you realize he was there by himself with apparently no corroborating witnesses.”
When asked to describe the process the school used to vet Montague’s story, longtime USC sports information director Tim Tessalone noted that the school spoke with one of the children on the phone in the hours after the hulking lineman first shared his story.
“I spoke with one of the children myself, and I have to be honest, Doug’s being especially modest with regard to the picture he’s painting about this incident,” Tessalone said. “Because the child I spoke to on the telephone sounded like a fully grown man, not unlike the kind we have in abundance here on our football team. So this was no toddler Doug saved from the teeth of those tigers or the perverted paws of those pedophiles. This was a big kid and that just goes to show you Doug’s physical strength matches his strength of character.”
While the USC athletic department is quick to believe Montague’s story, skepticism remains within a community fresh off the scandal involving Shaw.
“I’m not saying that kid didn’t run into a burning building and break his hand prying those tots away from those tigers and sex offenders,” said Ted Stryker, a USC alum and owner of Ted’s Tap House, a popular weeknight hangout for many members of the school’s 14th-ranked football team. “But I think it’s also possible he fractured that mitt the moment he punched my bouncer, Curtis, in the jaw as he was running out on his tab last night. But hey, I’m just a sud slinger, not a doctor or a detective.”