Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Concussions a Black Eye for Football

It’s time to let the chorus begin.

In the next 10 days we’re sure to hear about St. Tebow, patron saint of spread offenses (or is that Pope Urban?). We’ll hear about his missionary work in the Philippines, “the promise” that spurred the Florida Gators to a national title last season, and of course we’ll hear about his reaction after his concussion – before he vomited into a bag, he supposedly asked, “Did I hold on to the ball?”

Whether he actually said that, or if it was the creation of Florida’s sports information director, we may never know. To be fair, he seems like possibly the most unique big-time college football player since fellow Gator quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner and devout Christian Danny Wuerffel.

Unfortunately, Tim Tebow will play next week against LSU, and the pundits will laud him with wreaths of praise, while the greatest player of this generation will blatantly ignore the greatest epidemic facing football today.

They say that this was Tebow’s first concussion, a fact that seems debatable. With the way he plays and runs, it is quite plausible that he’s had concussions before – just not to the extent of the one he received on Saturday against Kentucky. Head Coach Urban Meyer said it was his first, but Bud Kilmer told Mox in “Varsity Blues” the same thing about those shots going into Lance Harbor’s knee, and we all

know how that turned out.

Tebow’s appearance next week will send a message to the world that concussions are like falling off a horse: If you fall off (spend the night in the hospital), then you just need to get back in the saddle (get back under center). Concussions aren’t turf toe though. They induce brain trauma and can have lasting effects.

The NFL just released a study that says that former players suffered from Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related diseases 19 times above the national average for 30- to 49-year- old males.

In a Sports Illustrated piece two years ago, senior writer Tim Layden broke down the science behind the big hit – and it wasn’t pretty.

New York Jets cornerback Lito Sheppard, talking about the effect of some of the collisions, told Layden, “Everybody blacks out [after a hit]. Anybody who is playing football at this level and says he has never played blacked out is lying. You get hit, and you’re out on your feet. But as a man, you get up because you don’t want your homeboys seeing you down on the ground, crawling around. You have to show no fear, no damage. By the next play, you start to come back around. Not to say that you have all your senses, but you stay out there.”

“Jump off a 13-foot ladder and land on your feet,” David Haase, a physics professor at North Carolina State, told Layden. “You would be traveling approximately 8.81 meters per second, which is about 20 miles [per] hour. It would hurt, but bending your knees would absorb most of the energy, so it doesn’t sound too bad. But football players do not collide feet first. Now imagine diving off a 13-foot ladder and landing on the ground head and shoulders first.”

For all the progress that has been made in helmet technology, concussions still occur at a startling rate. The presence of helmets, despite all their benefits, seems to lead players to give up technique and trust that the armor on their head will protect them.

Watch any college or professional game this weekend and notice the number of times a defensive back lowers his head and just dives at a running back’s legs. When a 5-foot-10, 190-pound defensive back is one-on-one with a 6-foot, 225-pound running back, there aren’t many options besides lowering your head and diving for the leg – but that option runs the risk of neck injuries and concussions.

Another problem is that players wear their helmets way too loosely nowadays. Peyton Manning wears

his the right way – we know this because when he takes it off he has the beginnings of an indentation on his forehead from how tight it is. The majority of players, however, can have their helmets knocked off with a well-placed open palm, yet they expect that same helmet to protect their cranium from the force of a blunt object.

Last week, Mark Sanchez lowered his head and took a vicious hit before scoring a touchdown. Sanchez celebrated, Jets fans rejoiced, and the New York media solidified its place on the Sanchez bandwagon, but how close was he to a serious head injury? How many months did that one play take off of his life?

They say football is a game of inches, and with the way some of these players approach the game, inches could be the difference between the end zone and a hospital bed.

Fans complain that the NFL is doing too much protecting quarterbacks and other players, but the stats seem to say they’re not doing enough. The NFL and the NCAA need to do something to prevent the problem before we have a generation of our heroes unable to function in retirement. Chinstraps, which absorb the brunt of a hit and reduce the risk of concussion, are in use – but they’re only a start.

Last month, Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu and Arizona Cardinals receiver Sean Morey became the first active NFL players to say they will donate their brains and their spinal chord tissue for research. Obviously the concern is there – now it’s time for the powers that be to act.

Tebow will play next week, and he’ll probably show why he’s the frontrunner to win the Heisman. Tebow will lay it on the line every play – let’s just hope it’s not his health and his future that he’s laying out there.

Ryan Travers is a senior in the College. He can be reached at Illegal Procedure appears in every Friday issue of Hoya Sports. “

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