Former NFL player Joe McKnight was shot to death during a traffic dispute with a 54-year-old man just outside of New Orleans on Thursday.
McKnight, who played for the Jets and Chiefs, was 28.
“I was his mentor,” Bart Scott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “My wife was best friends with the mother of his only child, his son. Joe had a lot of demons. He was a Katrina survivor. He was always dealing with a lot. I think he was stuck on a roof for about six days. He had championed those things. He was displaced after Katrina. He came in the league kind of young, immature. He tore his Achilles and he battled his way back to the Canadian League. He was back. He loved his hometown.”
Scott condemned the gun culture in America.
“At some point, we have to start talking about what’s going on in New Orleans and what’s going on with these carry states,” he said. “When you live in a carry state, you don’t know the people that are allowed to carry a gun. People don’t realize carrying a gun is a very powerful thing. Just like getting a bunch of money, it’s a powerful thing, and not everybody can handle that responsibility. Now you get in an altercation and you feel empowered because you have a weapon. You do things, you say things, you can’t take things to a point that you would never take it if you didn’t have a gun.
“For me, it hits me personally and it hurts, but we’ll be talking about this again in another month or the month after that,” Scott said. “This story just continues to repeat itself. I sound like a broken book. I sound like every friend of a fallen person that has the same conversation. It plays out like a broken record. ‘Oh, I felt threatened, so I did this, and I was in a carry state.’ We’ll get some song and dance and people will be upset and nothing will happen. Nothing will happen. Violence only begets more violence. So now as people on the side of the victim, what’s going to happen? People are going to start erring on the side of caution as well, so you’re going to have people shooting people.”
The fact that the nation is so divided, Scott said, certainly does not help and could lead to similar altercations in the future.
“Right now the temperature of this country is divided and it’s full of hate,” Scott said. “You have to ask yourself what is a man’s life worth? Is the punishment for an argument death? Is it death? Is a life worth that little? That because of a traffic altercation, a man is losing his life? It’s senseless and it’s stupid. But they’ll play that song and dance. Something may or may not happen to this man because of who Joe McKnight was. . . . Other than my life being in danger or my kids’ life being in danger, it’s really nothing that’s worth me taking another man’s life or another person’s life. But when you have a gun, that’s how you feel. You feel empowered.”
Scott used to carry a gun but no longer does.
“I stopped carrying a gun because it was stupid,” he said. “Because whenever anything happens, you lean on the fact that you got the ultimate equalizer next to you. It’s a powerful thing. Everybody can’t handle power. We know that. But we continue to see allow these idiots to carry guns and we don’t know their mental backgrounds. We don’t know what they’re going through. On any given day, somebody can (have) a bad day and it can be intensified by getting into an argument. Come on, man.”
Ronald Gasser, who is white, reportedly shot McKnight multiple times.
“I guarantee you he’s going to say (McKnight) looked like a threat because he’s a black man with dreadlocks,” Scott said. “But in what scenario do you see a 54-year-old man attacking a 28-year old man? You don’t. But you put a gun in his hand and everybody feels empowered. I’m not talking about a race thing. It’s just a stupidity thing. ‘I feel empowered. I’m going to take your life.’ What’s a life worth? A dent in a car? An argument? Now you got to prove yourself? Now you want to shoot somebody and stand over them and say, ‘I told you not to mess with me?’ It’s stupid and senseless.”