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‘Hero’ Of 2004 Carolina-Clemson Brawl Facing SLED Investigation

Former Tigers’ running back Yusef Kelly loses his job as a police officer …

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Former Clemson Tigers’ running back Yusef Kelly – the subject of several iconic images taken in the aftermath of a vicious 2004 brawl between the Tigers and their arch rivals at the University of South Carolina – is now in trouble over a much different kind of picture.

Kelly is under investigation by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) after he allegedly sent at least one inappropriate image to a juvenile.

“We have an open investigation involving Mr. Kelly,” SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby confirmed to this news outlet, although he did not immediately provide any details regarding the nature of that inquiry.

SLED was asked to investigate Kelly because of his status as a former member of the Easley, S.C. police department, sources familiar with the inquiry told me.

News of the investigation into Kelly was first confirmed by reporter Cody Alcorn of Fox Carolina, who reported that Kelly was “no longer employed” by the Easley police following a “brief investigation” the agency conducted into the allegations.

It will now be up to SLED to determine whether he should also face criminal consequences.

Kelly played three years at Clemson from 2002-2004, rushing for 754 yards and 10 touchdowns over 29 games. The 6-foot-0, 230-pound native of Walterboro, S.C. also caught 21 passes for 110 yards. His best season in Tigertown was his sophomore year in 2002, when he rushed for 520 yards and scored 8 touchdowns on the ground.

Of course, his career at Clemson is not remembered by any of those metrics …

On November 20, 2004, Kelly was a central figure in a notorious brawl that erupted between the Tigers and Gamecocks in Clemson, S.C. during their annual rivalry. The melee began at the 5:56 mark of the fourth quarter, with Clemson enjoying a 29-7 lead over South Carolina in what was the 102nd installment of this series – which used to be the longest continuously running, non-conference rivalry in American football.

What happened?

After failing to convert a fourth down pass attempt, former Gamecock quarterback Syvelle Newton was thrown hard to the ground by Clemson defensive lineman Bobby Williamson (and punched in the head, too). In response, South Carolina offensive lineman Chris White shoved Williamson while another Gamecock offensive lineman – Jabari Levey – also joined in the scuffle.

From there, the violence exploded. Both benches emptied and players from both teams traded vicious blows up and down the field.  Among the most violent hits?  A sucker punch from South Carolina running back Daccus Turman against Clemson’s Duane Coleman – and of course Kelly’s infamous foot to the head of a defenseless Gamecock.

The original broadcast of the game can be viewed below (with the brawl commencing at the 2:11:00 mark) …

(Click to view)

(Via: YouTube)

Both teams surrendered the bowl bids they had earned in the wake of the incident – and numerous players were forced to miss games the following season.  Also, both schools coordinated a hand-shaking ceremony between players prior to the kickoff of the 2005 game in an effort to promote better sportsmanship between the two programs.

“It was a fight,” Kelly said after the game. “Everybody knows things like that happen during a fight.”

After the brawl, Kelly paraded in front of the Clemson student section with a captured Gamecock helmet – tossing it jubilantly into the stands.

“They’ll have something to remember me by,” he said at the time.

Now it appears as though fans could have something else to remember Kelly by …

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Years after the brawl, Kelly told The Clemson Insider he “went on the field as a peacemaker” but got upset after a Gamecock football player put him in “a chokehold.”

“I was a youngster out there,” Kelly said. “I try to tell people all the time don’t judge people in the snapshot of a moment.”

Speaking of not judging … Kelly has yet to be charged in connection with the ongoing SLED investigation. Even if he is eventually charged, as with anyone accused of committing any crime he would be considered innocent until proven guilty – or until such time as he may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any charges which might be filed against him.

But again, as of now there are no charges …

For those of you keeping score at home, Clemson boasts a 71-42-4 all-time lead in this “rivalry” – which was first played in 1896 and was played continuously between 1909 and 2019. Clemson currently enjoys a six-game winning streak over the Gamecocks, which is one victory shy of the series record.

Prior to that, South Carolina won five in a row over the Tigers …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Fayetteville Woodpeckers’ lid pictured above).

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