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BYU Fans Support Max Hall After ‘Regrettable Decision’ From Make-A-Wish Board Member

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 17: Max Hall #15 of BYU Cougars looks to pass the ball to teammate while playing against San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on October 17, 2009 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – This past Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Todd Noall, a Utah Utes fan and a board member for Make-A-Wish Utah, posted a tweet that contained images of him wearing a t-shirt that featured former BYU QB Max Hall on the front.

The picture wasn’t of Hall from his playing days at BYU (2007-2009). Instead, it was a picture of Hall’s mugshot from a 2014 arrest due to cocaine possession and shoplifting.

The shirt had a caption that read, “Max Hall’s Coke is Caffeine Free.”

Screenshot shirt

Screenshot captured from Twitter: @ToddNoall

Immediately after sending the tweet, fans from both BYU and Utah expressed displeasure with Noall’s shirt, asking him to delete the tweet and apologize.

shirt

Picture from Twitter: @ToddNoall

Back in 2009, after a win over Utah, Hall went to the postgame press conference and said, “I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything.” Since those comments, he has been at the center of rivalry banter. “Max Hall Hates Me” t-shirts have become a fixture among Utah fans for BYU week. Hall even took a picture with a Utah fan on Saturday wearing a “Max Hall Hates Me” shirt, showing that time heals all wounds, and it’s something that can be laughed at now.

But to make fun of a person who has fought addiction, that was crossing the line for a rivalry that has had its share of unsavory moments over the years.

Hall has been open and candid about his struggles with addiction and the difficult road someone has to take to recover. Five years ago, Hall opened up with KSL Sports about his battles with addiction.

Hall’s wife, McKinzi, saw Noall’s tweet and privately reached out to the Make-A-Wish Utah Board Member on Twitter Direct Messages. She expressed to Noall that the shirt was “unacceptable.”

Noall then blocked Hall on Twitter after sending the message. She then shared the private message publicly, stating, “Just want to make sure he and anyone else that wants to make fun of people who have had struggles in their life see this. Please share to make sure he can see it.”

From there, Hall’s tweet spread far and wide within the BYU fan base on Twitter and popular fan message board CougarBoard.com.

Hall, the winningest quarterback in BYU football history, attended Saturday night’s game and was an honorary flag bearer for Kalani Sitake’s team. He has not replied publicly to Noall’s tweet, which has since gone private.

Turning a negative into a positive

Garrett McClintock, a host of the fan-created BYU show, Give ‘Em Hell Podcast and Newsletter, wanted to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Knowing that Noall was a Make-A-Wish board member, McClintock found Noall’s Make-A-Wish campaign and donated on behalf of Max and McKinzi Hall.

McClintock donated $26.17. The amount reflects the score from Saturday night’s BYU win over Utah. When McClintock made his donation, there were no funds in Noall’s campaign. In less than 24 hours, BYU fans raised $17.794.80 as of publishing time.

BYU fans such as Joe Wheat were motivated to join in and donate because “there’s no sense in fighting fire with fire.”

“First and foremost, the goal is to help children through Make-A-Wish. It’s a great program with a great purpose that deserves our support,” Wheat said to KSL Sports in a text. “Second off, to some extent, this is in response to what I feel was an insensitive act against a prominent member of the BYU community and I want to show there is forgiveness and no hard feelings. We’ve all done dumb things before and it shouldn’t serve as a permanent black mark on our character. There is enough hatred in this world, and I would rather use my platform to promote goodwill, forgiveness, and positive outcomes to bad situations.

Wheat continued, “Donating [to Make-A-Wish] is our way of saying, ‘We saw what you did, we didn’t like it, but let’s all rise above it together and reach a level of common ground by supporting something we can all rally around.'”

Noall issued an apology on his Make-A-Wish donation page.

Apology

“Max Hall and University of Utah fans have a long-standing rivalry, I took the rivalry way too far. My choice in ‘rivalry apparel’ for the BYU Utah game was in extremely poor taste and showed poor judgement on my part. I am very sorry that my actions have caused any hurt for the Hall family. After reading his recovery story, I’m beyond impressed with all Max Hall has overcome and I wish him and his family nothing but the best.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the BYU fans and Max Hall supporters who have supported Make-A-Wish by donating $26.17 per donation (the score of the game) on my wish hero Make-A-Wish page.

“The generosity of Max Hall supporters has also been impressive and I look forward to seeing all of the good these donations will accomplish. I will join BYU fans in supporting the Hall family by matching donations on my “wish hero” page.

“The only thing I am more passionate about than U of U football is helping Wish Kids heal through the hope their wishes provide.

Make-A-Wish Utah issues a statement

Make-A-Wish Utah issued the following statement to KSL Sports in response to Noall’s actions at the game and the wave of donations from BYU fans and Max Hall supporters.

Make-A-Wish Utah values its longstanding relationship with BYU Football, its players, and fans. While this was an isolated incident for which Mr. Noall has apologized, his actions in no way reflected the values or opinions of our organization. We are extremely grateful that BYU and Max Hall’s many fans have united to create a positive impact out of a regrettable decision made by a Make-A-Wish board member. Their donations through Todd Noall’s Wish Hero page will help grant more life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses in Utah, and Mr. Noall recently announced that he will be matching donations to this page.

This positive response is in keeping with the Cougar Nation’s support for our mission. In 2010, Mr. Hall helped grant the wish of a 9-year-old girl battling a nervous system disorder. She was a HUGE BYU fan and Max Hall was her favorite player. Although she could no longer walk at the time of her wish, she was adamant in her wish to “run a wishing mile with Max Hall.” During her wish experience, Mr. Hall spent time one-on-one with her, connecting on a personal level before escorting her over the finish-line. This is the Max Hall that Make-A-Wish knows and is grateful for.

KSL Sports reached out to Max Hall for comment. That request has not been returned at this time.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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