Knocked out

Tony Barnhart had a piece up from SEC Media Days about the new targeting rules and got to the main purpose behind them:

The bottom line is this rule change, and the reason people like Shaw believe it’s so significant, is bigger and more important than any single player, any single game, or any single season. With a class-action law suit on concussions against the NFL working its way through the court system, college football officials know they have to be proactive on this subject. Someday they may have to sit in a court of law and be asked the following question: “Did you do everything you could to make the game as safe as possible?”

The answer to that question had better be yes.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case.

Back in January 2010, two NCAA staffers exchanged a series of emails mocking the concussion safety efforts of David Klossner, the organization’s director of health and safety.

“Dave is hot/heavy on the concussion stuff,” wrote Ty Halpin, the director of playing rules administration. “He’s been trying to force our rules committees to put in rules that are not good — I think I’ve finally convinced him to calm down.”

“He reminds me of a cartoon character,” responded Nicole Bracken, the associate director of research.

“”HA! I think you’re right about that!” Halpin wrote.

The emails are part of hundreds of pages of internal NCAA documents and depositions filed in federal court late Friday, as part of a motion seeking class-action status for a lawsuit challenging the organization’s handling of head injuries.

(More details on that potential class action matter here.)

Worse for us, one of those e-mails hits close to home.

A 2009 email from a University of Georgia assistant football trainer discussed potential NCAA concussion legislation and admitted athletes were returned to games after suffering concussions.

“I personally have seen an athlete knocked unconscious and return in the same quarter in recent years,” Dean Crowell wrote in an email to Klossner as several others.

Here’s the actual text.  (h/t Jon Solomon)

That’s pretty disturbing.  I’d like to know who was involved in the decision to let the player return to action and who was injured.  It’s certainly not news you’d expect out of the program.

This is going to get some attention.


Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

32 responses to “Knocked out

  1. Rampdawg

    The pussifacation of football and America continues


    • You think it’s okay to put a concussed kid back in a game?


      • DugLite

        I don’t and I would think most people that are parents would agree. The problem can be that a player voluntarily puts himself back in the game. You know the whole “big team, little me” train of thought. The whole targeting deal is Kind of a grey area for me with a receiver crossing the middle, but not a grey area for the Quinton Dial hit on Murray.


        • Dolly Llama

          @DugLite: “The problem can be that a player voluntarily puts himself back in the game.”

          That shouldn’t be a problem. A concussed player is no more capable of judging whether he’s ready to play than a slobbering drunk is capable of deciding whether he’s capable of driving home. In both cases, you must take away the keys if you care at all about the person.


  2. Debby Balcer

    Some people just don’t get how serious a concussion is.


  3. Rampdawg

    The pussifacation of GTP begins.


  4. Gatriguy

    Pretty sure Tra Battle was concussed in the 05 Auburn game when he busted the coverage on that 4th down. Heard that from multiple sources.


    • That’s the one I thought of, too.


      • adam

        Saw this on twitter earlier and that exact player/game/moment is what I thought of as well.


      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        In defense, that was several years ago and the emphasis and understanding about concussions and the effect of same has really advanced greatly in the only last few years. When I was in HS (admittedly a long time ago) it was common practice for a player to get knocked out on one series then go back into the game the next series. We now know that is extremely dangerous but no one really knew that then.


        • NRBQ

          Buddy of mine was an all-state HS linebacker, and in his late fifties, not a MoFo you ever wanna piss off.

          He knocked himself out making a tackle in the state championship game, and doesn’t remember the second half, in which he excelled.

          But he’s a little punch-drunk, and I know where that started.


      • hailtogeorgia

        Definitely the one I thought of as well.


    • WF dawg

      That’s been one of the hardest losses to stomach. Fortunately, Battle exacted his revenge the following year against Brandon Cox.


      • hailtogeorgia

        That was a tough one – the only thing that made that one okay was that the loss to Florida had already put us out of MNC contention, and the loss to Auburn still didn’t put us out of SEC contention.


    • Um, King here

      First one I thought of


  5. I don’t think anyone (sane) would disagree that concussions need to be limited as much as possible. However, it feels at least to me, that we are “softening” the game a bit will all of these new rules. I am worried that one day contact will be severely reduced.


  6. I just worry about the enforcement of this rule. Seems like we get the short end of the stick (see the Oklahoma State game). I fully expect Trey Matthews to deliver some blows early this year, and against Clemson and South Carolina one or two flags can really make a difference.

    If this is a rule that can be enforced consistently and reduce player injuries that would be great, but that’s a long shot. We’ll see.


  7. Macallanlover

    I don’t like the either/or nature of how this subject is discussed. You do not have to be opposed to strict guidelines for concussions with better equipment, high medical standards, mandatory clearance procedures, etc. and still have serious concerns about what is being proposed in the targeting rules.

    There are clearly cheap shots that should be flagged and heavy handed disciplinary action taken, there are also hits where the defender has time, and an option of where to hit the offensive player and still do his job as a defender. But there are hits that are not “targeted hits” where contact will be made in the upper body area in a violent collision and they occur in “slam/bam timing” at full speed with two athletes moving in different directions. It is those that are impossible to judge as deliberate, and especially by officials on the field who may, or may not, be in a good position to view the contact. We have already seen contradictory actions on the part of the SEC office with several days and multiple camera angles available. We are about to enter very murky, slimey water and we are doing so with people who have not proven to be that competent.

    To be clear, I want stronger safety procedures to reduce the horrible effects of concussions but I feel the direction being taken is wrong and misjudgements will cause fans and players to not understand why one hit is judged legal, and another result in both a penalty and suspension. To oppose the way this process is going does not mean you are not compassionate and don’t want to take all reasonable precautions, some feel the direction we are going is unreasonable.


    • Cojones

      Continuing on with this train of thought, by placing this decision on a field ref we are begging for corruption of the rules and the game by uneven and biased calls. It’s another judgement rule, but this one can affect a game.

      I would like to see the degree of differentiation between “His bell was rung” and what is diagnosed during a game as concussion. “Seeing stars” can be classified as a concussion because that’s what it is (a mild concussion) and probably occurs on most plays with most players. The accumulation of many small mild concussions is what leads to susceptibility for larger concussions.

      I don’t have to type scenarios where a close game with SC, FU and LSU can be decided by application of this rule and negate the hard work everyone has put in; besides, I thought the spearing rule covered what occurs, including head-to-head.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      I concur. If we are not careful they will legislate out of the sport the very things (on defense at least) that separate winners from losers. The Oklahoma State situation is a perfect example. The receiver was going for the ball and had it on his fingertips when the Georgia defender separated him from the ball with a hit that wasn’t even at the head. What should have been 4th down at the 30 turns into a first at the 15 and an eventual TD that sealed the win for Okie State. Of course, I will go to my grave believing that game was fixed by crooked Big 12 refs who never would have let Okie State lose the game where they were dedicating their new stadium.


      • Macallanlover

        Yes, the interpretation I fear is we will see officials err so far in the direction of not being criticized that any strong collision (the kind that makes the crowd ooh and aw) will bring a flag. We see an example of this in over zealous attempts to protect the QB, and even more often with any hit along the sideline. There is no penalty for hitting a player in bounds yet quite often a player is flagged for a hit right on the boundary, when no one even knows if they are in, or out, but results in the offensive player being knocked far out of bounds into players and benches. Those are often legal, in-bounds hits, or ones where the player is trying to advance the ball for every inch they can gain.

        Think about where a defensive player has to make that decision of go/no go. But refs always flag that in the name of safety. The intent of the rule was to penalize late hits out of bounds, not give the offense a free run along the boundary. As a defensive coach you would criticize your player for pulling up 3-4 yards away from a sideline hit, bit truthfully, he is at risk if he doesn’t begin pulling up long before the offensive player does. With the new “targeting” rule, a mistake doesn’t just cost you 15 yards for a bad call, it might cost the team their best defensive player for the next game. Afraid a well-intended rule will hurt the game because the application will be abused; in our society it almost has to be.


  8. D Basham

    Whatever. So far, the claims against UGA are very unspecific as far as the when and where such an incident (might have) taken place. Above, there. seems to be a consensus that whatever happened came some eight years ago. Without explicit documentation, that sounds like a bunch of revisionist crap to me. What is very fresh in the memory, however, is one of UGA’s best players, Malcolm Mitchell, getting knocked out of the Capital One Bowl following a kickoff return. I’d put that up against any past accusations and let it ride.


    • In the statement I read, the trainer could have been referring to players on opposing teams. Not necessarily talking about UGA kids. I am sure, however, that players that are concussed and do not always report it and try to play thru it. Something I am sure of is that if Ron Courson knows a UGA kid has been knocked out or even suspects a concussion, he is held out of the game. Period.


  9. Cojones

    Now Crowell says that is exactly the case; an opposing player from the opponent’s team was sent into a game after concussion. He further stressed what is stressed here about Ron Courson and his management of concussion. Ron was also defended by others saying he has been the leader in study of concussed players.

    Love it when a blog ends peaceful and attention is paid to factual knowledge.