218 Football Casualties Severe to Fatal in America 2011
By Matt Chaney
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2012
Updated February 13, 2012; corrected February 15, 2012, removal of 1 duplicate case
Last fall in Oklahoma, athletic trainer Dan Dodson saw the horrific side of tackle football become manifest.
Grave injury struck down three teen players under Dodson’s watch, leaving one dead, from one team.
In a span of barely three weeks, Edmond North High School became site of perhaps the worst cluster of acute casualties in known history of American football.
Junior player Ryan Smith died on Oct. 12, likely of blood clots originating from leg fractures that the 16-year-old suffered at football practice the day before.
Two weeks later, sophomore Dillian Barrett, 15, was hammered in a collision during practice at Edmond North, breaking a rib that caused lacerations of his liver and spleen.
Then, on Nov. 4, sophomore player John Liles took a lethal blow at practice, damaging internal organs, and the 15-year-old underwent emergency surgery for removing spleen and part of his pancreas.
Questions rose in aftermath about Edmond North football, seeking explanation for the team’s catastrophic injuries, and school trainer Dan Dodson pointed to obvious culprit in the sport itself.
“It is a lot of injuries from one school,” Dodson conceded for KFOR-TV, “but you gotta look at the nature of the sport they’re playing. Football is a violent-contact sport.”
No matter how football advocates always spin the violence, regardless their talk of solutions always in progress, the tackle sport rolls on as predictable mass carnage, maiming players by the thousands annually, killing far too many—and at much higher rates than acknowledged by game officials, associate researchers and the adoring public.
This report presents an unprecedented collection of injuries surrounding football in a given year, 218 cases ranging from severe to fatal during 2011, with the large majority juveniles. The list is comprised strictly of information available in Google banks.
The annotated cases below are 192 survivor casualties and 26 fatalities, with players ranging in age from 5 years old to 50 and including 1 female.
Here is the breakdown by category of injury or diagnosed condition, in listed order, of these cases located for American football during 2011:
*4 survivors of “compartment syndrome,” including 1 with leg amputation.
*8 survivors of heatstroke or related illness.
*11 survivors of non-cerebral blood clots mostly originating from leg fractures.
*16 survivors of lung collapse or injury.
*12 survivors of kidney rupture, bruising or malfunction.
*6 survivors of liver laceration.
*15 survivors of spleen rupture or injury.
*1 boy who survived numerous internal injuries.
*2 survivors of facial fracturing, including injury to orbital sockets.
*5 players hospitalized in critical care for infection, including MRSA.
*1 case of knee injury involving paralysis of the peripheral peroneal nerve.
*8 survivors of cardiac arrest or condition and 1 survivor of heart attack.
*17 survivors of brain bleeding requiring surgery, with about half of them still in recovery.
*2 survivors of vessel rupture and stroke requiring surgery, including 1 yet in recovery.
*4 survivors of brain bleeding requiring hospitalization without surgery, including at least 1 yet in recovery.
*1 survivor of brain seizure requiring surgery, caused by a congenital artery tangle known as AVM, with rehabilitation underway.
*2 survivors of head and/or neck injury causing nerve damage.
*1 survivor of skull fracture.
*5 additional survivors of severe or catastrophic head injury or condition.
*20 spinal cases requiring surgery, largely for stabilizing vertebral fractures, including at least 6 victims experiencing continuing paralysis for insult of the spinal-cord nerve bundle.
*49 spinal injuries of no paralysis that did not require surgery, with large majority of cases involving fracturing of vertebral column.
*1 survivor of staph infection in spinal column, no paralysis.
*26 fatality cases surrounding tackle football in 2011, a collection first reported last week in this space, including 23 players and 1 coach, 1 referee and 1 cheerleader, .
This report makes no claim of epidemiological quality on American football beyond the apparently reliable scope of death numbers generating from news accounts every year, available particularly through electronic search.
Among categories above, an untold large number of football injuries goes undisclosed every year, and Google cannot include all reports by local news media, which in turn only publicize a fraction of casualties and typically sidelined players of prominence, like varsity starters in a prep program. The majority of juvenile survivors below were standout players already making news in their local regions, prior injury.
Medical databases, incidentally, are not yet capable for harvesting valid national roundup of catastrophic injuries in tackle football, a vast, high-risk population of about five million players spread among tens of thousand programs across 50 states.
For further discussion on the problem of underreporting survivor cases, beginning with disclosure limitations, see recent reports on ChaneysBlog.
The Jan. 4 post, “Football Researchers Mum on Faulty Injury Statistics,” features insight of epidemiologist Charles E. Yesalis, ScD, professor emeritus of health policy and administration at Penn State University.
For example, the supposed authoritative reports of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR), University of North Carolina, are instead proven invalid as epidemiological study, minimally for years 2009 and 2010, because of insurmountable limitations recently demonstrated in part by my extensive review.
For those two years together, I currently hold about 100 candidate cases for “catastrophic” designation missed thus far by NCCSIR researchers Frederick Mueller and Dr. Robert Cantu. Both men, funded by football organizations, have declined comment while ignoring my offer to forward their missing cases for 2009 and 2010, still available through Google.
Meanwhile, no case in this report qualifies as medical study, with each requiring expert follow-up for data verification and additions—and hopefully on part of researchers beyond merely Mueller and Cantu at UNC.
While football apparently caused or contributed to the large majority of injuries below, per medical details in news reports, some cases will not qualify as game-related for either verifiable elimination or because no evidence exists to establish a link.
Regarding casualty survivors of 2011, Mueller and Cantu are examining 111 of my list for their report upcoming, only those cases involving trauma to brain, skull, spinal cord, vertebral column and/or the heart. Their current high tally of such survivors is 63, for year 2008.
The Mueller-Cantu reports of 2009 and 2010 currently list 44 and 24 survivors, respectively, of catastrophic football injuries by NCCSIR classification. The numbers are far short of my electronic harvests totaling about 165 such survivors for those years, names currently available in Google. The UNC team also missed at least 2 football-related deaths for 2010, still online.
Mueller and Cantu do not recognize survivors of football’s catastrophic risks such as non-cerebral blood clots, organ rupture and heatstroke.
Meanwhile, terrible health outcomes already beset American football players in 2012, such as 1 fatality and 1 case of cerebral stroke I have retrieved from Google.
I probably will sandbag my 2012 casualty collection until next year, to post it following publication of the Mueller-Cantu report they can compile without my assistance, unlike for 2011.
Then we can compare results once again—or at least I will.
218 Casualties in American Football of 2011
By Matt Chaney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Online Reports of Compartment Syndrome Requiring Surgery, Football 2011
Sept. 3: Jacob Rainey, teenager, Virginia, senior quarterback for Woodberry Forest School, projected as a top college recruit in 2013, suffered femoral artery burst of a leg during a preseason scrimmage, among contact injuries when he was “tackled from behind.” Surgeries followed in hospital, where “compartment syndrome” developed in the lower leg, cutting blood flow and killing tissue. “Once I got compartment syndrome, that changed everything,” Rainey later recalled. Doctors amputated the lower leg a week after the tackle injury. “I don’t know ‘why me,’ ” Rainey said in late November. “I’ve never asked myself that question. I think that would just make me feel sorry for myself, and that’s the last thing I want to do.” Sources: The Daily Progress, The Associated Press, and MaxPreps.com.
Oct. 28: Kirk Kaliszewski, teenager, California, senior running back/linebacker for Ramona High School, sustained a calf injury during a game. Compartment syndrome developed of the injury, damaging nerve, artery and muscle in the area, and Kaliszewski was hospitalized for surgery to remove tissue. Kaliszewski was sidelined the remainder of football season. Sources: North County Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Romona.Patch.com and Romona Sentinel.
Nov. 28: Ryan Gill, 17, Arizona, linebacker for Yuma Catholic High School, was struck in a thigh muscle during a state-championship game and played on while injured, through the second half. Two days later, Gill was rushed to a hospital for an emergency fasciotomy operation to combat compartment syndrome of the muscle; he underwent three additional surgeries during eight days hospitalized. “Physically, he’s a beast,” said coach Rhett Stallworth said of Gill. “He made a huge sacrifice for everybody but it helped ensure that we won the football game. It’s the kind of the thing that legends are made of.” Gill rehabilitated and returned to athletics less then two months following the injury, competing in school wrestling. Gill, a 4.0 student, had an academic scholarship to Arizona State University and did not plan to compete as an athlete in college, according to The Yuma Sun.
Dec. 24: Marshal Yanda, 27, Maryland, offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens, was injured during an NFL game then hospitalized for what the franchise described as a “thigh contusion.” Actually, Yanda was kicked in a lower leg and compartment syndrome developed, threatening to kill tissue that could lead to amputation or even become fatal. “I got leg-whipped in my calf area,” Yanda said weeks later. “They had to do emergency surgery that night and slit the muscle open to release the pressure. It was a nasty scar and shitty way to spend Christmas Eve, but that was the way it was.” Yanda played the next game for the Ravens, with stitches removed afterward, then the post-season rounds. Sources: Ravens24x7.com and Baltimore Sun.
Online Reports of Heatstroke or Related Survivor Cases, American Football 2011
July 11: Jordan Hawthorne, South Carolina, sophomore lineman for Greenville High School, was stricken during morning team workout as local temperature would later reach the mid-90s and about 100-degree index. Hawthorne, listed as 5-foot-10, 200-pound defensive lineman, reportedly passed out but regained consciousness before transport by ambulance to a local hospital, where he spent the overnight in ICU. Source: WPSA-TV.
Aug. 1: Ciani Davis, 17, Texas, offensive/defensive lineman for his 6-man team at Advantage Academy Charter School, collapsed of heatstroke in morning practice. Paramedics found 108-degree body temperature for the teen, listed at 6-foot-4 and 350 pounds, and he was placed in medically induced coma for 48 hours. Davis was hospitalized for a week, mostly in ICU, and began outpatient rehabilitation. Sources: WFAA-TV and KDFW-TV.
Aug. 2: Dustin Snow, 17, Ohio, offensive tackle for Wauseon High School, collapsed at team lunch break after a practice. The 6-foot-1, 285-pound teen slipped off a chair, tried to stand up, then a teammate caught his fall. Emergency response resulted in helicopter life-flight to Cleveland, where Snow was hospitalized in critical condition before he began to recover. His father, Bob Snow, said, “It was a nightmare the first 24 hours.” Dustin Snow, a 4.0 student ranked No.1 in his senior class, was discharged from hospital after a week and soon spoke with reporter Bill Bray: “I barely remember [Aug. 2] practice,” Snow said of the hours leading to his collapse, continuing: “It was severe dehydration. … The first thing I remember I was waking up in the hospital with the [ventilator] tube in my mouth. … I was really freaking out. … I had so much lactic acid in my body that they had to put a room full of fluids in my body. They had seven IV bags hooked up to me at one time. My kidney function was very close to dead as was my liver function. That started to affect all my other organs and my stomach began having problems functioning as well. I couldn’t digest food and it was really bad.” Snow will no longer play football; in addition to his heat illness, he has learned of “an extra bone growth in the back of my head,” discovered during hospitalization, which doctors warn could damage his spinal cord on impact. Sources: Wauseon Reporter and Toledo Blade.
Aug. 9: Two unidentified teenagers, Texas, players for Odessa Permian High School, suffered “severe heat exhaustion” that injured their kidneys during a practice session in extreme heat, Robert Guaderrama reported. Laura Tindol said her sons on the team were hospitalized for two days, treated with intravenous fluids, because the school held summer practices outside between 3 and 9 p.m. Coach Gary Gaines said there were no other times available for football practice, during an interview with KOSA-TV.
Aug. 10: Clay Huskey, 14, Alabama, player for Buckhorn High School, collapsed of heatstroke during a water break at afternoon practice. Coaches applied ice to Huskey’s body while awaiting paramedics. The teen was hospitalized for three weeks, including 17 days in ICU, as chronicled on Facebook by a deep thread of relatives, friends and more followers. For about a week Huskey was basically comatose, wracked by high fever and body pain, then had to overcome a lung infection and surgery. Upon his hospital release at day 21, Huskey faced “a lot of physical therapy,” Denise Sisco Shockley reported online, “and he will be out of school another 4-6 weeks, but he is healing. Thank you, God, for answering our prayers!” Sources: Shockley on Facebook.com and WAFF-TV.
Sept. 2: Clay Callahan, teenager, Ohio, junior lineman for Conneaut High School, was stricken as primarily 100-degree heat and humidity sent six players to local hospitals from a game between his school and Champion High. Callahan was unconscious in critical condition, hospitalized on ventilator for an overnight before discharge after about a week. Candy Oliveira, identifying herself as a relative of Callahan on Facebook, wrote on Sept. 7: “I have been to other high school football games and have seen large ice coolers with towels soaked… . My nephew showed multiple signs of HEAT STROKE prior to his unconsciousness.” Callahan, whom his aunt described as “very lucky,” returned to the Conneaut team for the Oct. 14 game, reports sportswriter Don McCormack. Sources: Ashtabula Star Beacon, WJW-TV, Oliveira on Facebook.com, InAshtabula.com, and Conneaut Area City Schools.
Oct. 8: Jason Foster, 22, Rhode Island, offensive tackle for Rhode Island University, suffered severe heat illness during a game and was hospitalized, according to The Portland Press Herald.
Online Reports, Survivors of Non-Cerebral Blood Clotting, American Football 2011
March, circa: Evan Hailes, 18, Pennsylvania, a lineman for Pennsylvania State University, experienced what he thought were cramps in a leg during winter conditioning drills. After twice driving to Virginia and back, for his grandfather’s death and funeral, Hailes fell short of breath and was hospitalized for about a week, diagnosed with blood clots in lungs and the leg. He did not participate in contact drills of spring football and was placed on blood-thinning medication about six months, countering threat of clots. In August doctors cleared Hailes to resume football, and he played in games as a reserve defensive lineman for Penn State. Sources: FightOnState.com, PennState.247Sports.com, Centre Daily Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and ESPN.Go.com.
April: Nermin Delic, 19, Kentucky, defensive lineman for the University of Kentucky, underwent emergency surgery for a blood clot. The life-threatening condition followed his operation to repair a torn groin muscle, an injury from spring football. “In the second week of April, I was walking to class and my arm was turning blue,” Delic told reporter Drew Brantley. “They told me I had blood clot. I spent eight days in the hospital. I had some internal bleeding and a two-foot tube down my throat. It made me realize some things.” Soon after, Delic had surgery to remove a rib, and he chose to leave football and the university. In July, however, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound athlete announced he would return to UK and the football program in 2012. Sources: Dalton Daily Citizen, BleedBlueKentucky.com and Lexington Herald-Leader.
Aug. 20, circa: Christian Bonnell, 17, California, linebacker for Arroyo High School, underwent surgery for blood clots near his spine following a shoulder injury during a practice session, according to The San Bernardino County Sun.
Aug. 27: Jacy Dike-Pedersen, 16, California, fullback/linebacker for California School for the Deaf, experienced difficulty breathing during a scrimmage; two days later, an arm became swollen. Doctors found blood clots in his upper body and Dike-Pedersen entered ICU for drug treatments and then surgery to remove a rib, Phil Jensen reported. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound honors student began taking blood-thinning medicine and he returned to school in three weeks. Dike-Pedersen considered returning to football if possible, according to The Oakland Tribune.
Sept. 2: Tyler Story, teenager, Texas, receiver/linebacker for Decatur High School, sustained a severe knee injury in a game; a blood clot developed and the teen underwent emergency surgery lasting five hours. A family member reported damage to the artery and nerves, and Story stayed weeks in ICU. Sources: Wise County Messenger and Jeff Jones on Blogspot.com.
Sept. 7: Dustin Harvey, teenager, Kentucky, senior running back for Calloway County High School, suffered blood clots in a leg. Coach Josh McKeel said, “I haven’t talked to his (Harvey’s) doctors, so I don’t know if it could’ve been because of a hit he took. Looking on the film (of the Sept. 2 game), there is one (hit) we think could be it.” Harvey was treated with drugs and doctors determined the blood clots had dissipated by late October. Harvey did not return to football during the season. Sources: Murray Ledger & Times and Paducah Sun.
Sept. 30: Montrell Baldwin, teenager, North Carolina, junior running back for New Hanover High School, suffered fractured ribs and more injuries of an opponent’s hit during a game. Baldwin was hospitalized for an “impact” blood clot and internal bruising, The Wilmington Star News reported.
Oct. 8: Andrew Gonnella, 21, Maryland, offensive guard for the University of Maryland, suffered a dislocated knee in a game that included compound bone fracture, leading to surgery that night. Three days later, Gonnella developed a blood clot and was hospitalized. Sources: Washington Times and Baltimore Sun.
Oct. 12, circa: Kyle Nunn, 22, South Carolina, offensive tackle for the University of South Carolina, was sidelined with a herniated lumbar disc after a game on Sept. 24. Soon blood clotting developed in a leg, requiring emergency surgery. “It’s really scary when you wake up and can’t feel your leg,” Nunn said. “As soon as the surgery was over, all the feeling came back and everything was good.” Back surgery followed for Nunn in hospital, then rehabilitation, and he returned to football practice in December. “Coach (Steve Spurrier) thought I was ready to play so I figured it’s time for me to come back,” said Nunn, who played a full game on Jan. 2, 2012, his final competition as a collegiate player. He remarked, “I know all the seniors put their bodies on the line, including myself. … I felt great.” Sources: ESPN.Go.com, Charleston Post and Courier, Anderson Independent Mail and The Sports Xchange.
Oct. 21: Andy Siemens, teenager, Oregon, senior quarterback for West Salem High School, suffered a fractured leg bone during a game. Surgery stabilized the break with screws and metal plate and Siemens was released from hospital only to be readmitted in critical care. “He had blood clots in his lungs and lower legs,” said coach Shawn Stanley. “He’s going to be on blood thinners for six months.” Sources: Salem Statesman Journal and Portland Oregonian.
Nov. 4: Nick LaSpada, 18, Massachusetts, touted quarterback of Billerica Memorial High School, was diagnosed with blood clots detected by CT scan. LaSpada had experienced fatigue for most the football season, until the known condition finally sidelined him at least six months. LaSpada was hospitalized briefly. “He has blood clots in his lungs,” said Joe LaSpada, the player’s father. “They’re not positive yet but they are thinking it’s the result of a hit he took in late August or early September in the leg and moved to his lungs. At first they thought it might be pneumonia. He had two rounds of antibiotics and it just wasn’t going away. He just wasn’t feeling well. He had no wind at all when he ran. … He’s on blood thinners. He’ll be on it for six months.” Nick LaSpada, an honors student, hopes to play football in college. “The biggest thing right now is getting healthy,” he said three weeks after diagnosis. “I’m going to do what the doctors tell me so that in six months I can get back out there on the field.” Sources: ESPN.Go.com, Boston Herald, Boston Globe and North Andover Eagle-Tribune.
Dec. 3: Stacy Andrews, 30, New York, offensive tackle for the New York Giants, was diagnosed with blood clots in both lungs. The pulmonary embolisms were believed to have originated in Andrews’ legs and traveled to the lungs. A teammate said Andrews had experienced rib pain then began coughing up blood, leading to his hospitalization and diagnosis. “Very serious medical condition,” coach Tom Coughlin said of Andrews. “He can’t go back to football right now.” Andrews was placed on injured reserve for remainder of the season and postseason. Sources: FoxSports.com, Sports Network, ESPN.Go.com and Giants.com.
Online Reports of Lung Collapse or Injury in American Football 2011
March, circa: Elaine Iba, 50, California, a quarterback for the Southern California Breakers women’s professional team, suffered internal injuries during a team scrimmage. “She got hit pretty hard multiple times and hurt her ribs on her right side,” reported her husband, Randy Messenger. Iba developed breathing problems within weeks, symptoms of collapsed lung, and a CAT scan revealed multiple fractured ribs along with fluid and “lumpy structures” in the lung. Iba, a masters athlete, was diagnosed with cancer and died on Aug. 20. Sources: MastersTrack.com and CaringBridge.org.
April, circa: Javares McRoy, 19, Florida, wide receiver for the University of Florida, reportedly sustained a collapsed lung during spring practice and was hospitalized for surgery. McRoy then transferred to Texas Tech University, where he was ineligible to play football for the 2011 season. Sources: Dallas Morning News and Lubbock Avalanche Journal.
Aug. 3: Taylor Hyatt, teenager, Arkansas, senior quarterback for Boonville High School, suffered a collapsed lung during a non-contact practice session. His father, the team’s head coach, described the incident in media reports: “We were almost done with practice and he (Taylor) was bending over and I thought he was just hot,” said Scott Hyatt. “He started grabbing his chest and I starting thinking, ‘Wait a minute.’ ” Taylor was hospitalized two days, and his father suggested a pre-existing condition triggered the incident. “They (doctors) said it just happens. It’s not uncommon, but when it does it’s usually (to) tall, slender kids,” Scott Hyatt said. Taylor Hyatt returned to football about two weeks post-injury and played the full season as starting quarterback. Sources: Fort Smith Times Record, Boonville Democrat and Russellville Courier.
Aug. 20: Wesley Flowers, 19, California, defensive lineman for University of California-Los Angeles, sustained a collapsed lung during a team scrimmage. Flowers was hospitalized overnight and released. He was sidelined about a month and returned to football, playing sparingly. New UCLA coach Jim Mora dismissed Flowers from the football team in January 2012. Sources: ESPN LA and Los Angeles Times.
Aug. 23: Justin Williams, 16, California, a tight end/defensive back for East Nicolaus, suffered a partially collapsed lung and concussion when tackled by multiple teammates at a practice session, according to a damages claim filed by his family against head coach Mark Varnum. The claim states Williams missed a practice and the coach ordered a punishment drill, causing the injuries. Varnum was placed on paid leave by the school a month after the incident. Sources: Maysville Appeal-Democrat, Sacramento Bee and Sacramento.CBSlocal.com.
Aug. 23: Derek Nye, teenager, Pennsylvania, senior running back/defensive back for Governor Mifflin High School, suffered a collapsed lung during a practice session. Nye missed four games then returned to football to finish the season. Sources: Reading Eagle and LLLeagueSports.com.
Aug. 26: Jacob Johnson, teenager, Oklahoma, junior wide receiver for Gore High School, suffered multiple injuries in a scrimmage with another school. “Jacob was hit by two defensive players while making a catch at Chandler,” said Gore coach Lee Blankenship, a few days after the injury. “Seven ribs were broken and he also suffered a collapsed lung. They stabilized him and he was in intensive care, but he’s in a regular room now at Muskogee Regional Hospital and he’s doing okay. It was scary. He was proud that he made the catch. Losing Jacob is a huge loss.” Source: Sequoyah County Times.
Sept. 3: Leon Mackey, 21, Texas, defensive end for Texas Tech University, suffered a collapsed lung of a hit to his chest during a game. Mackey was hospitalized for one day and returned to game action in four weeks and finished the football season. Sources: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Dallas Morning News and CFBstats.com.
Sept. 8: Alonzo Lewis, 19, Mississippi, wide receiver for Copiah-Lincoln Community College, was injured by an opponent while running the ball during a game. “I got hit in the chest on a tackle,” Lewis said, “and his helmet caused a collapsed lung. It put me into the hospital and kept me sidelined for three games.” Lewis returned to football and played sparingly the rest of the season. Sources: LouisianaState.Scout.com and Brookhaven Daily Leader.
Sept. 10: Joe Price, 20, Pennsylvania, wide receiver for Villanova University, sustained multiple injuries from contact during a game, including collapsed lung, four broken ribs and a concussion, Brian Ewart reported. Price was hospitalized about three days and returned to game action on Oct. 22 for Villanova. Sources: VUHoops.com and Delaware County Times.
Sept. 18: Tony Romo, 31, Texas, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, suffered a collapsed lung of an opponent’s hit during an NFL game, and a preexisting fractured rib was cited by a team spokesman, Rich Dalrymple, who said various degrees of collapsed lung “can heal in differing time frames.” Romo did not miss a game, playing for the Cowboys eight days after the injury and finishing the season. Sources: ESPNDallas.com and United Press International.
Sept. 25: Antonio Cromartie, 27, New York, cornerback for the New York Jets, sustained a reported bruised lung and bruised ribs in an NFL game. Cromartie said he was injured while tackling with a shoulder, trying to avoid striking an opponent with his helmet. Cromartie returned to Jets practice four days after the injury. “I feel good now,” he said. “After the game, I felt like a fish out of water, I couldn’t breathe. I mean right now I feel good. I feed 100 percent. I have a little soreness here and there, but that’s about it.” Cromartie played in his first game one week after the injury and finished the season in the Jets lineup. Sources: Newark Star-Ledger, ESPN.Go.com and www.rotoworld.com.
Oct. 20: Zander Anding, 17, California, running back for Burroughs High School, suffered a reported partially collapsed lung of a hit during a game. Doctors made the diagnosis about a week later. “We thought that he might have just had an injury to his ribs,” said coach Keith Knoop. “But they found out it was really his lungs.” Anding missed one game then returned to football and finished the season. Sources: Los Angeles Times and BurbankBeyond.com.
Nov. 5: Justin Clapp, adult, Hawaii, redshirt sophomore wide receiver for University of Hawaii, was struck by an opponent during a game, fracturing two ribs and puncturing a lung. Clapp was hospitalized and “underwent a procedure to repair the lung,” Stephen Tsai reported. “A tube was inserted to clear blood from the chest cavity.” Sources: Honolulu Star-Advertiser and MSN.com.
Nov. 8: Preston Luedtke, teenager, Nebraska, running back/defensive back/punter for Columbus Lakeview High School, was injured by contact on a punt play and reportedly began coughing up blood. Luedtke was diagnosed with “bruises to both lungs and a partial lung tear,” Nate Carey reported. Luedtke was hospitalized overnight. Sources: Columbus Telegram, KETV-TV and www.facebook.com.
Nov. 12: Riley Nelson, adult, Utah, junior quarterback for Brigham Young University, sustained a reported lung injury of a tackler’s contact during a game. Nelson was hospitalized two days and sidelined more than a month; he played in his team’s bowl game on Dec. 30. Sources: Salt Lake City Tribune and Salt Lake City Deseret News.
Online Reports of Kidney Laceration, Bruising or Malfunction, Football 2011
Sept. 23: Taygen Schuelke, 17, South Dakota, running back/linebacker for Newell High School, was struck on his right side while making a tackle during a game. The inadvertent contact by a teammate hurt Schuelke but he stayed in the game. Afterward, blood appeared in his urine and Schuelke was taken to hospital, where a CAT revealed both a ruptured kidney and the fact the teen was born with only the one kidney. “It became a panic when they found out I only had one,” recalled Schuelke, an all-around athlete who previously sustained a cracked C7 vertebra in rodeo. “They were going to fly me out to Sioux Falls. They were thinking I’d need surgery, and so they had to get me to a specialist.” His mother, Jean Schuelke, said: “You just don’t expect that. We went to the hospital thinking it’ll be fine, we just needed to get it looked at. Not even an hour later, you find out he has one kidney. What do you do?” Taygen was hospitalized in ICU at Sioux Falls a few days, but surgery was avoided and he was removed from critical care. Schuelke was released from hospital in about a week to begin slow recovery at home while gradually resuming school, Danny Lawhon reported. Schuelke returned to athletics in January, competing for his school wrestling team. Sources: Rapid City Journal and TSLN.com.
Sept. 23: Luke Bewley, 17, Montana, halfback/linebacker for Hellgate High School, suffered a lacerated kidney while blindsided in a “clean” hit from a blocker, Jamie Kelly reported. Bewley was hospitalized in critical condition and surgeons implanted a stint to redirect liquids away from the damaged kidney. He was discharged from hospital within a week and doctors expected a rapid recovery. Bewley returned to athletics in January 2012, playing for his school basketball team, according to The Missoula Missoulian.
Sept. 24: Kevin Hunter, adult, California, quarterback for Glendale Community College, sustained a 2-inch laceration of a kidney while making a tackle following an intercepted pass. Hunter was sidelined a month and returned to football, according to The Glendale News-Press.
Sept. 24: Zach Sheffield, 18, Kansas, cornerback for Olathe South High School, sustained a destroyed kidney from contact during a game. This case is among many of 2011 demonstrating how quickly emergency can accelerate beyond anyone’s control at the common football setting—and typically mortal danger threatens a student player. For the Sheffield catastrophic injury, Kansas City Star sportswriter Tod Palmer provides a vivid account available online… Sheffield fell on the run, pursuing a ball-carrier during a Saturday road game, and his twisting body struck the opponent’s flexed knee in impact that damaged his left kidney irreparably. Sheffield trotted off the field, short of breath he later recounted, then collapsed in apparent distress. No one could readily diagnose the problem, including trainers and coaches, and no ambulance was immediately available. The dying player was loaded into a family automobile with his father at the wheel, Bret Sheffield, who sped off for an ER five miles away through metro traffic. The father “drove like a man possessed” to make it, Palmer wrote, continuing: “He recalls weaving across a median at one point then speeding down the shoulder on I-435 west, which was backed up because of weekend construction. … Zach described the pain as excruciating, ‘probably a 9 out of 10,’ he said. Doctors could barely move him off the gurney to the CT machine, because the pain was so intolerable. … All the hospital’s medical staff could do was stop the bleeding to the burst kidney, which now felt like an inflating balloon in his abdominal cavity, and wait for his other kidney to begin working double-time.” Zach Sheffield was hospitalized at least a week and had a slow recovery, remaining sidelined the rest of football season. Sources: Kansas City Star and SunflowerFootball.Blogspot.com.
Sept. 25: Ryan Grant, 28, Wisconsin, running back for the Green Bay Packers, sustained a bruised kidney when struck by two tacklers during a game. “I feel fine,” Grant said three days post-injury. “I have been walking around. I finished the game and everything.” Grant missed one game, returned to the Packers lineup, then finished the football season. Sources: National Football Post and RotoWire.com.
Oct. 7: Austin Raphael, 22, California, fullback for Fresno State University, suffered a reported bruised kidney in a game. Raphael missed two games then returned to football. Sources: Fresno Bee and GoBulldogs.com.
Oct. 12, circa: Gage Corner, teenager, Indiana, senior wide receiver for Leo High School, sustained a reported bruised kidney during a practice session. Doctors expected Corner to miss six weeks of football, but he returned to the team in less than a month, according to IndianaNewsCenter.com.
Oct. 28: Ryan Land, 18, Oregon, running back for Henry D. Sheldon High School, suffered a reported lacerated kidney during a game. Land missed three games before returning to football, according to The Portland Oregonian.
Nov. 1, circa: Brian Schwenke, 20, California, offensive lineman for the University of California-Berkeley, “experienced severe pain through his midsection” and was hospitalized, diagnosed with malfunctioning kidneys, Joe Stiglich reported. Subsequent tests showed kidney function was restored. Schwenke missed one game and returned to the lineup, according to The San Jose Mercury News.
Nov. 4: Tyler Bishop, teenager, Arizona, senior defensive end for Cactus High School, was injured by a legal “crack” block to his side and back during a game. Bishop was chasing a ball-carrier when an opponent “cracks me in the back and I’m laying on the field,” Bishop would recall. “I’ve never felt pain like that in my life. It was excruciating.” First indications were a fractured rib for Bishop, but local hospital tests revealed a worse condition: “(The) CAT scan comes back and I have a shattered kidney and I’m bleeding internally.” Bishop was air-lifted to a hospital, placed in ICU, but doctors initially hoped for natural healing, and he was released from hospital after four days. Then intense pain developed for Bishop at home, of continued internal bleeding, and he was readmitted on Nov. 13, for surgery, when doctors inserted a stint and catheter to help flush urine from the damaged kidney for three months. Sources: Glendale Today and www.facebook.com.
Dec. 1: Landon Lozoya, teenager, California, senior quarterback/receiver for Santana High School, suffered a lacerated kidney and other internal injuries when hit while running the ball during a game. Emergency surgery stabilized internal bleeding and Lozoya remained hospitalized for four days, Kellen Brauer reported. Sources: Grossmont College Summit and North County Times.
Dec. 3: Jaz Reynolds, 20, Oklahoma, wide receiver for the University of Oklahoma, suffered a kidney injury of contact during a game. Reynolds was hospitalized for a week and sidelined for Oklahoma’s bowl game. “Even before that (injury), his kidney wasn’t functioning properly,” Bob Stoops, Oklahoma coach, said on Dec. 20. “It was a bad situation there for a full week. He (Reynolds) is still walking around gingerly and sore. … The plan from here, there’s a couple of options. I’m not going to cover them all, but they’ll (Reynolds family)… decide what they’re going to do. But he is expected to be able to play next year.” Source: ESPN.Go.com.
Online Reports of Liver Laceration, American Football 2011
Sept. 9: Dylan Asbury, teenager, Florida, senior quarterback/safety for South Walton High School, suffered a lacerated liver when hit while playing defense during a game. Asbury was hospitalized and no internal bleeding was detected. He remained sidelined the rest of the football season, according to The Walton Sun.
Sept. 23: Nick Weiman, teenager, Illinois, junior running back/linebacker for Quincy Notre Dame High School, suffered a lacerated liver and broken ribs of contact while running the football during a game. Weiman was transported by ambulance to hospital, where he remained for three days. Sources: Quincy Herald-Whig and WVVA-TV.
Oct. 21: Luke Hicks, teenager, Mississippi, sophomore wide receiver/defensive back/kicker for Greene County High School, sustained a lacerated liver during a game in which he intercepted a pass on the final play, according to The Mississippi Press.
Oct. 25, circa: Dillian Barrett, teenager, Oklahoma, sophomore player at Edmond North High School, was hospitalized for internal injuries suffered during a practice session, lacerations to liver and spleen and a fractured rib, according to KFOR-TV.
Nov. 19: Connor Halliday, adult, Washington, redshirt-freshman quarterback for Washington State University, was hit repeatedly in a game and later diagnosed with a lacerated liver. Halliday was hospitalized in ICU for three days then released, and he did not return to football in 2011. Sources: Olympia Olympian, Seattle Times and ESPN.Go.com.
Nov. 19: Levi Spencer, teenager, Ohio, junior running back/linebacker for Shadyside High School, reportedly suffered a punctured liver and fractured ribs during a game. He was hospitalized for a few days. Spencer returned to athletics ahead of expectations to compete in wrestling for his school team. Sources: WTOV-TV and OVAthletics.com.
Online Reports of Spleen Rupture or Injury, American Football 2011
March 26: Shane Blissard, 22, Tennessee, wide receiver for Middle Tennessee State University, collided with tacklers after catching a pass during a team scrimmage. One tackler’s helmet struck Blissard in his torso, causing internal injuries. “I was a normal hit, and I thought the wind was knocked out of me,” Blissard later recalled. “That’s what it probably looked like to everybody.” But MSTU athletic trainer Robbie Stewart recognized signs of spleen rupture in Blissard, who was vomiting, dizzy and most significantly experiencing drop in blood pressure. Stewart had seen a case of ruptured spleen before in college football, and Blissard was rushed to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fractured rib, ruptured spleen and bruised kidney, among injuries. Blissard was in emergency surgery 90 minutes after the football collision. “He lost more than 3-1/2 liters of blood from internal bleeding from the spleen, and underwent a second surgery the next morning after losing more blood because of a damaged vessel,” Andy Vaughn reported. Blissard recovered and returned to football in 2011, playing in every game for MSTU. Sources: Murfreesboro Daily News and MSTU Football.
August, circa: Jaden Grill, teenager, New York, junior running back/linebacker for Immaculate Heart Central High School, sustained a reported lacerated spleen in a practice session and missed the football season. Grill returned to athletics in wrestling, competing for the school team by December. Sources: Watertown Daily Times and CNYWrestling.com.
Aug. 18: Christian Kuntz, 17, Pennsylvania, quarterback/linebacker for Chartiers Valley High School, suffered an internal injury while making a tackle in a practice session. “It was just another tackle, but I took a heel or something to my side,” Kuntz later recalled. Experiencing severe pain, Kuntz was rushed to hospital and diagnosed. “I lacerated a third of my spleen,” he said. “They had to go through my groin to surgically repair it and stop the bleeding.” Hospitalized for five days, Kuntz was finished for the football season but strove to recover for basketball season. “Six weeks after the surgery, I was able to start running and working out a little bit,” said Kuntz, whom doctors cleared to play basketball for his school team. Sources: YourCarlynton.com, ChartiersValley.Patch.com and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Aug. 26: Brock Cary, teenager, Alaska, sophomore fullback for Thunder Mountain High School, suffered a ruptured spleen of contact during a game, according to The Juneau Empire.
Aug. 26: Ryan Robbins, teenager, Missouri, sophomore center for Clopton-Elsberry, a “co-op” program between high schools, suffered a ruptured spleen while blocking. Robbins underwent surgery and was hospitalized for a few days, apparently sidelined for remainder of the football season. Sources: Bowling Green People’s Tribune and Elsberry Democrat.
Sept. 2: Brandon Danowski, 17, Wisconsin, quarterback for West Allis Central High School, was tackled and reportedly sustained a ruptured spleen. Danowski was sidelined for a month then returned to football for remainder of the season, according to WestAllisNow.com.
Oct. 7: Joktan Moore, 17, North Carolina, wide receiver/defensive back for Mount Airy High School, suffered spleen rupture of a collision during a game. Moore was hospitalized for emergency surgery, the spleen was removed, and he was sidelined for remainder of football season, according to The Mount Airy News.
Oct. 14: Ross Hennekens, teenager, Wisconsin, senior fullback/linebacker for Lake Holcombe School, was hit in the abdomen while reaching up to catch a pass during a game, rupturing his spleen. At hospital doctors treated the injury without surgery, stemming internal bleeding, and Hennekens spent a couple days in critical care before his release. The teen returned to athletics in December, playing for his school basketball team, according to The Chippewa Herald.
Oct. 17: Unidentified boy, 14, New Jersey, participant of a sandlot tackle football game in Lawrence, suffered a ruptured spleen during a disagreement among players. A 12-year-old player became angry following a play and lifted the 14-year-old, “allegedly slamm(ing) him to the ground,” Michael Ratcliffe reported. The younger boy was “retaliating” and police investigated the case, while the injured boy was treated at hospital. Sources: Lawrenceville.Patch.com and The Trenton Times.
Oct. 21: Dom Iero, teenager, Ohio, junior quarterback/defensive back for North Canton Hoover High School, was injured during a game that he finished. Iero was later hospitalized in serious condition, suffering of a ruptured spleen. Iero was sidelined for remainder of the football season then returned to athletics in December, competing for his school basketball team. Sources: Canton Repository and Hoover Vikings Basketball media guide.
Oct. 21: Josh Isacco, teenager, Florida, senior linebacker for Creekside High School, was struck in a side by an opponent’s block during a punt play in a game’s final seconds. Isacco left the field of his own power but experiencing abdominal pain. Later, he collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital, “where doctors quickly discovered Isacco had lost close to three pints of blood into his stomach thanks to a ruptured spleen,” Danny Klein reported. Isacco underwent emergency surgery and was sidelined for remainder of the football season, facing up to six weeks of recovery. Creekside coach Greg Stanton rated Isacco’s injury as the worst among players he has coached, according to The St. Augustine Record.
Oct. 22: Alex Dunmire, 21, South Carolina, running back for Wofford College, was hit and launched by an opponent during a game, sending him to the sideline in pain. “He (Dunmire) came over and he just wasn’t himself,” coach Mike Ayers said after the game. “Doctors checked him… They knew he had an issue. … He’s definitely done for the season.” No surgery was required, but Dunmire was hospitalized three days in ICU. Sources: Spartanburg Herald-Journal and GoUpstate.com.
Nov. 4: John Liles, teenager, Oklahoma, sophomore player for Edmond North High School, was struck in the abdomen during a practice session, rupturing his spleen and damaging the pancreas. Surgery removed the spleen and part of the pancreas, and Liles was hospitalized in ICU for about three days. Doctors expected his recovery to be lengthy, according to KFOR-TV.
Nov. 11, circa: Joel Katz, 17, Massachusetts, offensive guard/linebacker for Marblehead High School, suffered a reported ruptured spleen and was sidelined for remainder of the football season, according to The Marblehead Reporter.
Nov. 20: Marquis Johnson, 23, Missouri, cornerback for the St. Louis Rams, sustained an abdominal injury during an NFL game. Johnson was hospitalized a day later and diagnosed with a lacerated spleen that reportedly did not require surgery. Johnson was placed on injured reserve for remainder of the football season, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Online Report of Various Internal Injuries, American Football 2011
Sept. 30: Derek Wall, 13, Utah, student at Pleasant Grove Junior High School, suffered severe internal injuries from an unexpected tackle in intramural flag football, during an after-school program on campus. The injured boy’s father, James Wall, said: “They had to do exploratory surgery on him—he’s got a 10-to-12 inch cut on his stomach now, perforated bowels, his pancreas is bruised, there’s some liquid in his lungs, they had to take out his gall bladder, his appendix. Everything was just kind of bruised up.” A week following the incident, Derek Wall was recovering but unable to eat or drink without help, and he would remain hospitalized for weeks longer, according to The Deseret News.
Online Reports of Facial Fracturing, Orbital Socket Injury, Football 2011
June 1: Spencer Gassett, teenager, Texas, junior wide receiver/defensive back for Cisco High School, suffered severe injuries of colliding with another player during a “7-on-7” scrimmage between schools, an activity involving no helmets or pads and designed as non-contact. “I thought I had a broken nose,” Gassett later recalled. “It didn’t dawn on me how bad I was hurt until I got to the hospital.” Bones were fractured in the teen’s nasal cavity, cheeks, jaw and a shoulder; an orbital socket was temporarily affected: “The next day my face had swelled so much, I couldn’t see out of one eye,” Gassett said. “I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t eat.” Gassett was hospitalized for two weeks and underwent five surgeries, but he recovered enough to play football again by September, for the school team. Gassett’s playing time increased as the season progressed. “It’s amazing just to see him back out there playing,” said Isaac Hamilton, a Cisco teammate of Gassett, in late November. “It was a real struggle for him to come back and he really wasn’t at 100 percent until the last three or four weeks.” Source: Abilene Reporter-News.
Oct. 2: James Harrison, 33, Pennsylvania, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, suffered fracture of an orbital socket from colliding with an opposing player during an NFL game; the contact caused a pad in Harrison’s helmet to slip down and strike his right eye. Harrison finished the game then underwent surgery three days later. He was sidelined a month then returned to football and finished the season. Sources: The Associated Press and ESPN.Go.com.
Online Reports, Survivors of Severe Infection, American Football, 2011
No established links to football activity or environment are reported for infection cases
Sept. 8, circa: Jordan Powell, 17, New Jersey, tight end/linebacker for Lacey Township High School, had an opened pimple on his chin turn hard and swollen. Next night, playing in a scrimmage, the spot "got huge, and it hurt whenever I hit it," Powell would say. Powell awoke the following morning with high fever and rousted his mother for heading to a hospital. Powell was diagnosed with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, a potentially lethal bacterium stalking American football players. A Texas study "found that football players are infected by MRSA at a rate that is 16 times higher than the national average, often contracting it in locker rooms or when bacteria gets into an open abrasion," Scott Stump reported, adding, "While many players contract it on their legs and arms, the fact that is was on Powell's chin made it even more dangerous. An inch-long incision had to be made in his throat to drain the bacteria." Powell said, "I didn't realize how bad it was, and the doctors told me that if I hadn't said anything about it for another two days, I could've been dead. The infection could've gone right to my brain and killed me." Powell missed a week of football then returned to finish the season. Source: Berkeley-NJ.Patch.com.
Oct. 4, circa: Ishmael Ariza, 14, Florida, football player for Liberty High School, was hospitalized in critical condition for the bacterial infection MRSA, according to his older brother, Jose Ariza, spokesman for the family. “Seeing him in this state at the stage in his life is very difficult,” Jose said. “It’s a struggle for me and especially a struggle for him.” Ishmael was hospitalized for weeks at last report, in apparent agony. “There’s really not much he says,” Jose said. “He’s always in pain, he’s complaining about the pain. It spread down to his legs, doctors are not sure what they’re going to do next.” Parents of the Liberty school district were worried and several cited 2008 in the community, when multiple MRSA cases were reported among Liberty students. Four football cases that year included a fatality, senior player Alonzo Smith, whose brother also contracted the staph infection but survived. Sources: WFTV-TV, WOFL-TV, WESH-TV and Orlando Sentinel.
Oct. 31, circa: Trevor Sedlacek, 17, Nebraska, injured tight end/linebacker for Beatrice High School, had been sidelined in the preseason for a knee injury and surgery. Attending team practices and games, Sedlacek developed a possible streptococcus and was hospitalized in critical care; the bacterial infection hit his lungs and spread lesions throughout brain tissue, causing swelling. Sedlacek was placed in medically induced coma, undergoing multiple surgeries in a month. Released from hospital before Christmas, Sedlacek visited a school basketball game and told news media he would continue physical therapy while returning to school for half days initially, aiming to graduate with his senior class in the spring. Sedlacek said, “If you would have told me a month ago that I’d be home and in this good of condition and our family would be together, I wouldn’t have believed you. Because what we’ve been through, what my family and friends have been through, it’s been unreal.” Sources: Beatrice Daily Sun and KLKN-TV.
Nov. 26: Bryan Stork, 21, Florida, offensive center for Florida State University, sustained a finger injury during a game. Infection developed in the finger and doctors nearly had to amputate. Stork was sidelined for FSU’s bowl game a month after the injury, when the finger reportedly had begun to heal. Sources: Palm Beach Post, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and Orlando Sentinel.
Dec. 13, circa: Jay Prosch, 19, Illiniois, fullback for the University of Illinois, was diagnosed with recurring staph infection and hospitalized for a week in critical care. Prosch had contracted staph infection a few years previously, during an outbreak at his high school. Prosch was sidelined for Illinois’ bowl game, and he transferred to Auburn University in January. Sources: Chicago Tribune, IllinoisLoyalty.com, www.facebook.com and FightingIllini.com.
Online Reports of Knee Injury and Peripheral Nerve Damage, Football 2011
Sept. 9: Josh Martsching, teenager, Iowa, touted senior quarterback for Davis County High School, sustained a severe knee injury during a game. Martsching, a baseball recruit committed to the University of Iowa, “suffered some nerve damage” in the football injury while also tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and some meniscus, or joint cartilage, Chris Faulkner reported. Martsching was sidelined for remainder of the football season and focused his rehabilitation on readiness to compete in school baseball of spring 2012. Meanwhile, the Iowa Hawkeyes baseball program honored its verbal commitment by signing Martsching to a national letter of intent. “It’s pretty comforting,” Martsching said of inking his college athletic scholarship. “The (Iowa) coaches never thought about taking back the scholarship. … My first goal was to play Division I baseball. (Iowa) offered me that chance last year (2010).” Sources: Ottumwa Courier, Bloomfield Democrat and Centerville Daily Iowegian.
Online Reports, Survivors of Cardiac Arrest, Heart Attack, American Football 2011
May 19: Teddrick Lewis, 15, Louisiana, player for Breaux Bridge High School, collapsed on the sidelines during a spring football scrimmage, his heartbeat having stopped. Coach Paul Broussard employed a portable automated external defibrillator, or AED—after having trained in a mock drill with his team and school personnel weeks earlier—to restart the heartbeat and save Lewis’ life. “Because we had a plan in place, we knew exactly what to do,” Broussard said. Lewis was hospitalized for a week and has since recovered for normal activity, but doctors advised he not return to contact sport. Sources: KATC-TV and ZOLL Medical Corporation.
Aug. 22: Unidentified teenager, Missouri, eighth-grade player for Waynesville Middle School, collapsed of cardiac arrest during an afternoon practice session. Local fire and ambulance personnel responded and restored the boy’s heartbeat with AED. “The defibrillator devices were absolutely what saved him,” said Mike McCort, of the ambulance district. Source: Pulaski County Daily News.
Aug. 30: Ross Palmer, 17, Idaho, receiver/cornerback for American Falls High School, collapsed of apparent cardiac arrest while running wind sprints at a practice. Two coaches began CPR while another fetched a portable defibrillator, and the AED helped reset heartbeat. “If (the stricken player) had not been shocked, no way would he have come out of that,” said cardiac surgeon Dr. Brian Crandall. Three days post-incident, surgeons implanted a self-activating stimulator in Palmer’s chest. Journalist Patty Henetz reported that “if Ross’ heart goes into ventricle fibrillation arrest—quivering instead of beating—the implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, will shock his heart back into action.” Source: Salt Lake Tribune.
Sept. 2: David Wilganowski, 17, Texas, touted lineman for Rudder High School, collapsed of cardiac arrest during a game. Rudder High’s certified athletic trainer, Jamie Woodell, revived the heartbeat with an AED and staff performed CPR, saving the teen. Wilganowski was hospitalized 10 days and surgery placed an ICD device in his chest. An honors student, aspiring engineer, Wilganowski was formerly a prized football recruit at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and athletic. His playing career was over, but Rice University reportedly pledged to honor its scholarship offer. Sources: KBTX-TV, KCEN-TV and Bryan-College Station Eagle.
Sept. 9: Brett Greenwood, 23, Iowa, former University of Iowa safety just released by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, suffered a reported heart attack during an individual workout at his former high school in Bettendorf. Personnel of Pleasant Valley High were present and likely kept the athlete alive until paramedics arrived, news media reported. School athletic director Randy Treymer said, “The school nurse ran a defibrillator where our athletic trainer was working on Brett. … They kept pushing with the defibrillator and CPR. If they weren’t around, who knows what could have happened?” Doctors kept Greenwood in medically induced coma and on life support for more than a month, then he was transferred to specialized care where he remained in February 2012. Sources: Quad City Times, Daily Iowan and New York Post.
Sept. 15, circa: Ther Tee Vang, 16, South Carolina, wide receiver/defensive back for South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, was tackled during a practice session. Vang rose to his feet then collapsed, momentarily in seizure without breathing, suffering cardiac arrest. Certified athletic trainer Joni Carter directed student trainer Jasmine Elleby in procedure, administering an AED and CPR, and “shock from the defibrillator and two cyles of cardiopulmonary resuscitation got Vang’s heart beating again,” Cindy Landrum reported. “Vang said he remembers getting tackled, feeling dizzy and hurting a bit, but remembers nothing else until he woke up at Greenville Memorial Hospital.” Vang had been born with a heart defect, Landrum reported, but doctors cleared him of that condition at age 12. His football case was possibly of “commotio cordis,” when an impact halts the heartbeat. Surgery implanted an ICD and Vang was restricted from contact sport, but he resumed physical activity. Athletic and agile, Vang joined the school cheerleading squad. Sources: JournalWatchdog.com, WYFF-TV, MasonDixon.org, www.scsdaa.org and GoUpstate.com
Sept. 20: Alex Templeton, 13, Texas, a linebacker for Azle Junior High School, fell in cardiac arrest of contact during a game, or commotio cordis. Templeton had chased down an opponent near the sideline, making the tackle from behind, and the player’s cleat jabbed his chest. The seventh-grader stood up, looked at the grandstands and collapsed. A coach performed CPR while an off-duty nurse came from the bleachers to administer a portable AED owned by the school; Templeton lay still until the defibrillator restored heartbeat, rousing him. “Seeing the boy spring back to life was an emotional experience for all those involved,” Edwin Newton reported. Templeton returned to school but not football immediately; he hoped to play football again in about two years, if doctors might grant permission, but his dad, Matt Templeton, would have to consider such proposition: “I don’t want him to play (football again), but we will have to make the decision later,” the father said. Azle school officials, meanwhile, ordered 11 additional defibrillators, intending to station one for every athletic activity of the district. Sources: Azle News, WFFA-TV and DFWCBSLocal.com.
Oct. 1: Ty Egan, 8, Illinois, youth-league player in LeRoy, was sprinting open for a touchdown when he slowed and collapsed, his heart having stopped. An ambulance staff was on site and medical personnel were watching as spectators, and they scrambled in response. But only oxygen was administered before the grade-schooler revived, resuming normal pulse and heartbeat. An electro-physiologist later told the parents their son was in cardiac arrest and a miracle saved him, not oxygen, Randy Kindred reported. Doctors restricted Egan from all sports except golf in his future, according to The Bloomington Pantagraph.
Oct. 23, circa: Bryant Bohlig, teenager, Minnesota, freshman quarterback for St. Cloud Technical High School, suffered a progressive cardiac disorder during a week of football activity. Serious illness manifested during a practice session and Bohlig was hospitalized, diagnosed with “permanent junctional reciprocating tachycardia,” a problem of arrhythmia in heart function, and he underwent surgery. Bohlig returned to athletics, according to The St. Cloud Times.
Online Reports of Brain Bleeding Requiring Surgery, American Football 2011
March 19: Logan Weber, 21, Iowa, offensive guard for Coe College, experienced severe headaches while stretching for weightlifting. Weber was hospitalized within 24 hours for brain bleeding linked to “arteriovenous malformation,” or AVM, a congenital condition. Surgery was performed to insert a shunt and Weber was hospitalized for 20 days. He recovered, returned to college, but ceased playing football, serving instead as student coach for the Coe team. Source: Cedar Rapids Gazette.
May 18: Josh Mercer, teenager, Louisiana, senior-to-be linebacker for Alexandria Senior High School, was injured while tackling a teammate in spring practice. Hospitalized for brain bleeding, Mercer was initially released after a few days but his condition worsened and he was readmitted to intensive care. Surgery was performed 10 days post-injury and Mercer began recovery, quickly completing physical therapy. He was released from hospital then completed a scheduled 12 weeks of speech therapy in half the time. Mercer could not play football but served as a student coach for the school, according to TheTownTalk.com.
Aug. 5: Brennan Barber, 17, South Carolina, defensive lineman for Mid-Carolina High School, was injured by a reported “routine” helmet hit during a scrimmage and collapsed minutes later. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding. Barber began walking three days later and was released from the hospital within a week. “Barber made a full recovery,” Brittany Lane reported in January 2012. Sources: The State and GamecocksOnline.com.
Sept. 2: Tucker Montgomery, 17, Tennessee, receiver/linebacker for Tri-Cities Christian School, was injured in helmet-to-helmet contact while running the football during a 6-man game. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding and Montgomery remained comatose for more than a month. A lengthy period of inpatient rehabilitation followed, and Montgomery was home by early 2012 while still requiring special care and therapy. Funds were raised for expenses, including toward purchase of a van equipped for medical transport, Amy Lynn reported. Recovery remained “a long, difficult road for (Montgomery),” said Nathaniel Trott, an organizer of the fundraiser “Wheels for Tucker.” Trott said, “Right now, his biggest need is having to be transported by ambulance (anywhere). The biggest concern is: How long will insurance cover the transports?” The drive aimed to raise $15,000 toward purchasing the van for the family. Sources: DaytimeTriCities.com, WCYB-TV, TriCities.com, Johnson City Press.
Sept. 9: Chad Moore, teenager, Alabama, senior running back/linebacker for Horseshoe Bend High School, ruptured a cerebral blood vessel during a game, causing a blood clot, although an exact incident was unknown. Moore collided with an opposing player before halftime of the game, possibly related, then jarred his head during a pass reception in the third quarter. “He got up like he was going back to the field, and he couldn’t see,” said Sherry Fincher, the player’s mother. Moore was airlifted to a hospital and underwent surgery the next morning. “They said that we were lucky he’s alive with the impact he took to his head,” said Fincher, who expected a full recovery. Moore remained hospitalized at last report, five days post-injury, but he required no physical therapy, Fincher said. Lacking sight in one eye, Moore was eating and “up walking around,” Fincher told The Alexander City Outlook.
Sept. 10: Dominic Morris, 21, Nebraska, running back for Chadron State College, was injured by reported “glancing” contact from an opponent’s facemask during a game, causing a blood clot. Surgery was performed on brain bleeding. “Following the operation… Morris was alert and showed no signs of any ill effects from the injury,” stated a Chadron release. Morris was discharged from hospital on Sept. 12 for recovery at home in California. Sources: Chadron State College, Omaha World.
Sept. 16: Robby Mounce, 17, Texas, running back/receiver and honors student at Community Christian School, suffered brain bleeding and collapsed during a 6-man game. Surgery was performed and Mounce began therapy while in critical care. Progress was slow but Mounce was able to return home for periods by the holidays, talking and visiting with people. He came home permanently the first week of 2012. By February he was walking freely for distances and up stairs, though with watchful assistance. He had begun schoolwork in increments while continuing therapy at home and as outpatient. Mounce’s continuing problems included loss of sensitivity and motor function through his right side, but his forward vision was 20/20 and his hearing “supersonic,” Janet Mounce reported. Robby’s mother discussed an upcoming February appointment with a neurologist, who would reevaluate need for anti-seizure medications: “We hope that (Robby’s) brain will work better without (the meds) and his memory will continue to improve,” Janet posted online. “Although we continue to see daily progress with his memory, this continues to be the greatest hurdle with (his) continuing school and future plans for college. … We are constantly reminding Robby how far he’s come and that he can talk, hear, read, and walk! Robby has a wonderful sense of humor. What an incredible gift God has given him!” Sources: KDFW-TV, Mineral Wells Index, and Janet Mounce on CaringBridges.com.
Sept. 16: Zeth Shouse, 17, Nevada, tight end/defensive end for Elko High School, suffered brain bleeding during a game and collapsed. Multiple surgeries were performed. The honors student remained hospitalized for months but had begun making progress by the new year, when he began talking. Fundraising helped defray expenses, including for specialized care in California. Shouse’s “physical strength is getting really strong,” his father, Todd Shouse, posted online in January 2012. “He can now sit at the edge of his workout mat with limited assistance, (and) when he does therapy you can see in his eyes a determination which he had on the football field and anything he has ever done. Neurologically, he is improving slowly. This is typical of his type of injury.” Sources: Facebook.com, Elko Daily Free Press, Reno Gazette-Journal and KENV-TV.
Sept. 16: Adrian Padilla, 17, California, safety for Oxnard High School, collapsed following head contact during a game. Surgery was performed for brain swelling of a reported severe concussion. Padilla was released from hospital on Oct. 4 and attended the Oxnard football game days later; he walked onto the field for the opening coin flip wearing street clothes and protective helmet. Padilla told media he suffered a concussion in football two weeks prior to the Sept. 16 injury. During a television interview, Padilla spoke and laughed with ease, appearing fully cognizant with outstanding recovery; he continued schoolwork at home for remainder of the semester. Sources: Ventura County Star, YouTube.com, Concussion Inc.net and ESPN.com.
Sept. 16: Adam Ingle, 17, Kansas, quarterback/linebacker for Valley Center High School, was injured in helmet-to-helmet contact during a game. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding. Family members say Ingle likely was concussed three days before game injury, during football practice, but the player did not inform anyone of his headaches, Irvin Muchnick reported. By early October Ingle was home and attending school events, with recovery work remaining. Sources: Concussion Inc. blog, Wichita Eagle, and KSN.com.
Sept. 23: Ikenasio “Junior” Nuku, teenager, Washington, senior tight end/linebacker back for Mt. Ranier-Tyee, a “co-op” program of two small high schools, suffered a severe head injury during a game and was transported to hospital by ambulance. News of the incident was limited initially, then information emerged through Dirk Knudsen, who posted a report for BrainChampions.org: “Junior (Nuku) was hurt twice this season with concussions,” Knudsen wrote. “The first one sidelined him for three weeks and the second one happened the night he returned. He was in pretty bad shape for a few days and had a stroke and other complications. He has been in rehabilitation at Seattle Children’s Hospital, doing better after being treated there for several weeks.” Sources: BrainChampions.org, WashingtonPreps.com and Seattle Times.
Sept. 30: Bobby Clark, 17, Idaho, lineman/linebacker for Priest River Lamanna High School, collapsed while leaving the field during a game. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding. District superintendent Mike McGuire said Clark might have mentioned headaches in the week leading to his injury, unbeknownst to coaches and school officials. At least 9 players on the team were diagnosed with concussion last season, about 20 percent of football players in the small high school, officials said. A local TV station reported Clark was among 3 diagnosed concussion cases on the team the night he was airlifted for emergency surgery. Clark was hospitalized about six weeks then transferred to a rehabilitation facility for speech and physical therapies that continued until the new year, as he progressed in walking, talking, eating, socializing and re-acclimating to school subjects such as math. In early January surgery closed the cranial opening and Bobby returned home with his mother, Julie Clark, according to her detailed journal online. In early February 2012, Julie wrote: “Bobby gets a little better every day. His therapy is going very well, and we are still working like crazy at home too (for rehabilitation). His right arm is showing some gains in strength and movement. His right leg is still coming around as well. His speech-cognitive therapy is going extremely well. His short-term memory is improving. He started doing schoolwork at home finally. He has a tutor come every morning. He took his first Government quiz… and scored pretty high, in the 90 percentile. It’ s going to be a lot of work, to catch up last semester (classes) and finish this semester in time to graduate, but he is going to do it.” Sources: Julie Clark on CaringBridge.org, WASWX-TV, Spokane Spokesman-Review, and Bonner County Daily Bee.
Sept. 30: Shelton Dvorak, 17, Nebraska, fullback/linebacker for Pierce High School, collided with multiple opponents while running the football during a game. Moments later he collapsed, suffering a brain bleed. A week after surgery, Dvorak was released from ICU and hospital to a rehabilitation center, where he progressed markedly in a few weeks, solo walking, exercising, eating and conversing with visitors. Dvorak returned home on Oct. 27 in strong recovery mode, resuming activities such as attending football games and going hunting with family members. Follow-up surgery replaced the skullcap piece and Dvorak continued his comeback, returning to school in mid-November. “Shelton is a living miracle,” a family member posted online. “He is doing things that everyone prayed he would do.” Sources: Dvorak Family on CaringBridges.org, KETV.com, Lincoln Journal Star and Norfork Daily News.
Sept. 30: Dillon Lackhan, 18, Arizona, lineman/linebacker for Valley Christian High School, suffered brain bleeding of head contact during a game. Surgery was performed and Lackhan was conscious within a few days, eating and conversing. “Dillon shows positive signs for recovery, but a long-term prognosis is not clear,” school athletic director Marlin Broek stated in an Oct. 6 email, reported sportswriter Richard Obert. Sources: AZCentral.com, MyFoxPhoenix.com and East Valley Tribune.
Oct. 1: Drew Iida, 5, Hawaii, a player for the Kalani Falcons, of the “Tiny-Mite” division of Oahu Pop Warner football for ages 5, 6 and 7, suffered a catastrophic brain injury during a practice session. “They were doing these warm-up drills with very low contact,” said Sheri Iida, the boy’s mother. “No one saw him hit his head. He walked to the back of the line, stumbled and fell and had a seizure.” The incident was “a freak accident,” stated Jeannie Melemai, an official of the Kalani team. “In spite of the best intentions, careful planning and taking all the precautions, things don’t always go as planned.” Oahu doctor Josh Green said, “Five might be a little young. I’m concerned about it.” Brain bleeding was detected at hospital, Drew underwent surgery, and he was comatose for 20 days, Jim Mendoza reported. Additional surgeries followed and Drew turned 6, regaining little control on his left side because of “a lot of trauma to his brain,” Sheri Iida said. Drew was transported to Arizona for inpatient therapy at a children’s hospital, where he was “making progress a lot faster” by late January 2012, his mother said. Sources: KGMB-TV, KHON-TV, Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Jeannie Melemai.
Oct. 1: Unidentified teenager, Massachusetts, a wide receiver for Sandwich High School, complained of wooziness following contact during a game and a trainer called for medical attention. “The player later underwent emergency surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain,” reported Michael J. Rausch, on Oct. 14. “The boy is now home and recovering well from his injury.” Source: Sandwich Enterprise.
Oct. 13: Dennis Pena, teenager, California, sophomore player for Los Angeles High School, suffered a head injury and collapsed during a junior varsity game. Surgery was performed for a brain hemorrhage, and David Craft, LAHS athletic director, said Pena’s prognosis was “supposed to be good.” Source: Los Angeles Times.
Online Reports of Vessel Rupture and Stroke, Surgery in American Football 2011
Sept. 6: Connor Laudenslager, teenager, Pennsylvania, senior offensive/defensive tackle for Line Mountain High School, was stricken of a blood clot at beginning of indoor practice, causing stroke. Laundenslager, 6-foot, 270 pounds, was hospitalized for emergency brain surgery then made “remarkable progress,” said coach Mike Carson, moving quickly through therapies and returning to school. By mid-October Laudenslager was working out with teammates and hoping to be cleared to resume football, although that did not occur in 2011. Laudenslager wants to play football in college. Sources: NewsItem.com, TNonline.com and Pottsville Republican Herald.
Sept. 23: Dylan Mercadante, 16, Vermont, receiver/defensive back for Montpelier High School, suffered a ruptured blood vessel in his neck during the second half of a game, causing strokes. The injury possibly stemmed from an opponent’s hit on his team’s first kickoff of the game. Dr. Roger Knakal later said: “So, my understanding of what happened to him is during his football game there was helmet-to-helmet contact and his head subsequently hyper-extended and likely twisted some and that caused some damage to one of the main arteries in his neck, going right through… his carotid artery.” Following surgery, Mercadante was hospitalized for month then continued therapies as an outpatient. “His recovery has been faster than expected, but he faces a lengthy rehab,” reported Tom Herzig, on Nov. 3. Mercadante planned to graduate with his class and attend college. Sources: Montpelier Bridge and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus.
Online Reports of Brain Bleeding or Swelling, No Surgery, American Football 2011
Feb. 14: Neiron Ball, 19, linebacker for the University of Florida, experienced headaches following a workout and was hospitalized the following day for a burst blood vessel of the brain linked to a congenital malformation of arteries known as AVM. Ball was released from ICU after five days and in March began “radial” treatment described as a non-intrusive procedure, similar to radiation for cancer. Ball did not play football in 2011 and a relative said his future in the game was uncertain. Sources: Orlando Sentinel and YardBarker.com.
Aug. 19: Alan Mohika, 17, Hawaii, quarterback for Damien Memorial High School, was injured by contact during a game, rose and walked off, then fell in seizure. Brain bleeding was detected but no surgery necessary, and Mohika was hospitalized in ICU for a reported severe concussion. Mohika was discharged from hospital after five days and returned to school a few weeks later. He did not play more football in 2011 but hoped to return to sports. Sources: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, HawaiiNewsNow.com and KITV.com.
Sept. 9: Matt Ringer, 15, California, running back for Central Catholic High School, suffered an apparent concussion during a tackle. Later he was hospitalized for a detected brain bleed, although fully conscious. No surgery was necessary and Ringer was released from hospital within 48 hours. He returned to school but not football. Source: Modesto Bee.
Oct. 7: Jadon Adams, 16, Kansas, running back for Beloit High School, collapsed during a game and was hospitalized for brain swelling. Doctors sedated Adams as treatment and discontinued the drugs as swelling subsided within 24 hours, and no surgery was necessary. The teen entered a rehabilitation hospital on Oct. 21 and made steady progress, according to updates by family friend Steph Barrett. Adams was released on Dec. 2 and continued therapies at home and as outpatient into January 2012, when he hoped to return to school, Stephanie Barrett reported. Sources: Salina Journal, KAKE-TV, and Barrett on CarePages.com.
Online Reports of Brain Seizure, ‘AVM’ and Surgery, Football 2011
Aug. 10: Mike Patterson, 28, Pennsylvania, defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles, collapsed in seizure during a practice session, while walking between drill stations, and convulsed for about four minutes. At hospital, doctors diagnosed Patterson with AVM, malformation of cranial arteries outside the brain, and Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder suggested the player’s condition was not affected by football. “We’re pretty sure that what caused the seizure wasn’t football related,” Burkholder said. “It just so happened to be at football practice. It could have happened at home, in the dorms, anywhere.” Nevertheless, doctors recommended Patterson should avoid football until corrective head surgery and rehabilitation, and the player favored that advice until consulting another specialist. Then Patterson decided to forego surgery until football season’s end, and he started every game for the Eagles. In December, Eagles center Jason Kelce wondered if Patterson had returned to football under added risk, for AVM: “I can’t say I’d play through it,” Kelce said. “I saw the way everything went down for him that day (of the seizure). Putting myself in his shoes, football might be over. … I was so crazy, it was frightening, it really was, to see one of your teammates go through that.” Patterson had surgery on Jan. 27, 2012, to correct the AVM tangle, and Eagles coach Andy Reid said afterward: “They had him (Patterson) sedated pretty well. He’s doing well. It was a very long surgery; they (doctors) had to dig in there. By training camp (in July) I think he’ll be pretty good.” Sources: CSNPhilly.com, Allentown Morning Call, ThirdAge.com, Philadelphia Inquirer, PhillyBurbs.com and ESPN.Go.com.
Online Report of Head and Neck Injury With Nerve Damage, Football 2011
Sept. 12: Spencer Eller, 14, Missouri, wide receiver/cornerback at Lee’s Summit North High School, was struck in back of his neck by a teammate’s helmet during a practice drill. Eller was hospitalized with paralysis through his right side and legs. “The doctors diagnosed Spencer with a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, vertigo and muscle and nerve damage,” reported Miranda Wycoff. Imaging tests were negative for cranial swelling, and Eller was released to go home with outpatient therapy. Six weeks after injury, the teen was walking but with a cane while still experiencing numbness through his right side; pain radiated everywhere, including migraine headaches preventing his sleep. At October’s end, Eller’s family hoped for his condition to improve enough for a return to school, but doctors remained cautious of his complex injury. “When he went in for the CAT scan and the MRI nothing was broken and there was no bleeding in the brain,” said Cheryl Eller, the teen’s mother, in a report of Oct. 26. “It makes it harder to understand because you can’t even see it.” Source: Lee’s Summit Journal.
Dec. 3: Tausean Holmes, 21, Arkansas, defensive back for Arkansas State University, sustained a reported neck injury during a game. Public details were limited on condition and roster status of Holmes, a two-year starter and tackles leader for ASU, as the team approached a bowl game. Then, five weeks after the injury, coach David Gunn said “nerve damage” prevented Holmes from playing in the game. Meanwhile, blogger James Bryant reported Holmes’ playing career at ASU had ended because of the injury. Sources: AStateNation.com and Arkansas State University Herald.
Online Reports of Skull Fracture, American Football 2011
April 2: Lamont Baldwin, 17, Washington, D.C., touted receiver for Carroll High School, suffered a fractured skull and other injuries in a four-player collision during a private camp without pads and helmets in Virginia. Baldwin was hospitalized in ICU for two days and could not return to school for the remaining semester, facing months of recovery. When injured, Baldwin was a top college prospect reportedly being recruited by several major programs; he did not play football in 2011. Sources: Washington Post and NBCWashington.com.
Additional Cases of Severe Head Injury or Condition, American Football 2011
July 16: Regina Pickel, adult, Tennessee, a teacher in the Bradley County School District, suffered a severe head injury during her son’s football scrimmage at Bradley Central High School. Pickel was sitting along the sideline when struck by the helmet of a diving player, causing profuse bleeding of a head laceration. “She was immediately tended to by a physician on the scene and walked off the field with her head bandaged to be taken to Erlanger Hospital by private vehicle,” Richard Roberts reported. Pickel was hospitalized in ICU in stable condition, according to The Cleveland Daily Banner.
Oct. 13: Josh Inhof, 15, Wisconsin, a center/defensive end for West Bend East High School, likely sustained an undiagnosed concussion of a collision during a practice session. A few days later, during a junior-varsity game, Inhof sustained one or more hits that rendered him unresponsive on a sideline. The unconscious teen was airlifted to hospital, where he remained two days and was released, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Oct. 13: Grant Taylor, 17, Oregon, fullback/linebacker for Lake Oswego High School, was struck after catching a pass then had a seizure on the field. Taylor had squatted to catch the pass when a tackler “came over the top and hit him with his thighs, just crushed the back of his head,” said coach Steve Coury. “It was kind of an ugly scene there for a while because we couldn’t get him calmed down and we didn’t know the extent of things.” Taylor was transported to hospital, where he was placed in a medically induced coma and released the following day. “All the scans were great. No (brain) bleeding, no swelling,” Coury said. “Everything is just fine. It’s just a real bad concussion.” Taylor returned to football five weeks post-injury and finished the season, according to The Portland Oregonian.
Oct. 23: Kris Dielman, 30, California, offensive guard for the San Diego Chargers, suffered a head injury while blocking during an NFL game in New Jersey. Dielman staggered momentarily on the field but finished the game. Dielman was diagnosed with concussion then, on the plane flight home, he had a grand mal seizure that was “violent” and “scary,” reported Kevin Acee and Chris Jenkins. Dielman was transported by ambulance from airport to hospital, where he stayed overnight. Doctors reportedly would not conclude the head injury and seizure were connected. Dielman was sidelined the remainder of the football season and said he remained willing to gamble his health for pro football. “That’s the scary part, too,” Dielman said. “I’ll play through just about anything, and I’ve played through this (injury) and it got me. I’ve made my whole career doing dumb shit like that. … That’s how I got here, doing stupid shit on the football field. It got me 10 years in (the NFL), so I’m all right with that.” Sources: San Diego Union-Tribune and The Associated Press.
Dec. 10: Jamel Dobbs, adult, Maryland, junior defensive end for the United States Naval Academy, had a seizure at the team hotel prior to a bowl game. Dobbs was hospitalized in ICU and underwent tests for determining cause of the seizure, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Online Reports of Spinal Injury Requiring Surgery, American Football 2011
May 7: Rob Marrero, 31, Pennsylvania, semi-pro player for the Mountain Top Reapers, suffered a broken neck and severed spinal cord during a game. Friends reported after surgery that Marrero was paralyzed permanently from chest down. Marrero, married and a father of two, continued treatment and therapy. Source: Lehighton Times News.
May 27: Jeremy Bingham, 34, Arizona, fractured cervical and thoracic vertebrae during a game in pads and helmets between football alumni of two local high schools. He was injured colliding with another player. Doctors diagnosed no paralysis and surgery stabilized the C7 and T1 vertebrae in Bingham, married and a father of four. Sources: Eastern Arizona Courier and the Bingham Family on Blogspot.com.
June 29: Thomas Vanderlaan, 21, California, a corporal corrections specialist for the U.S. Marine Corps, defensive end for the Miramar Falcons of the Camp Pendleton Football League, suffered fractures of cervical vertebrae while striking a reported “weighted” tackling dummy at a practice session on base. Paralysis occurred below the neck, surgery followed, and Vanderlaan performed intensive, promising rehabilitation to regain movement in his arms and hands and touch sensory in his chest, Erin Tracy reported. Vanderlaan’s mother, Susan Wares, said: “When I first saw him (post-injury), he was connected to tubes and wires and IVs; it was just horrible. The doctors told me to expect him to end up like Christopher Reeve because he will never have any movement below his neck.” Vanderlaan, progressing beyond initial prognosis, continued rehabilitation at a Naval hospital as member of the Wounded Warrior Battalion. “I’ve done enough research and realized that there’s a chance to make a full recovery,” he said. “I’m not looking for a miracle to make it back to walking. I’m looking at a lot of strength, determination and pushing every single day. Once my feet hit the ground, I’m running and not stopping.” Sources: Modesto Bee and U.S. Marine Corps.
Aug. 20: Scott Kooistra, 30, Minnesota, offensive guard for the Minnesota Vikings, was struck in the chest by a linebacker he was attempting to block during an NFL preseason game. Kooistra played three more downs then left the field on his own power, having sustained apparent fracture of the C2 vertebra. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Kooistra reached the sideline “in pain, really couldn’t move left or right, and in the process of evaluation postgame, they just told us it was a very significant neck injury (and) we’re going to probably lose him for quite a while.” No paralysis was reported and surgery stabilized the injury; Kooistra was placed on injured reserve for the season, according to 1500ESPN.com.
Sept. 1: Torell Troup, 24, New York, defensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills, sustained a reported “minor fracture” in his spine during an NFL preseason game. Troup missed several games but played in about six before being placed on injured reserve for the season. Troup had surgery on Dec. 16 for the fracture and a disc ailment. “The doctor said (surgery) went really well,” Troup said. “I’ve had the disc problem since college, and the other little freak thing (fracture) happened to my back this year.” Sources: NFLDraftScout.com and ESPN.Go.com.
Sept. 18: Nick Collins, 28, Wisconsin, free safety for the Green Bay Packers, ruptured a lumbar disc during a collision in an NFL game. Cervical-fusion surgery was performed and Collins faces lengthy rehabilitation. Doctors expected full recovery for normal lifestyle, but Collins hoped to resume pro football. Sources: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Channel3000.com.
Sept. 23: Corpio Dennard, 16, Alabama, receiver/running back for Saks High School, suffered a broken neck during a game when a tackler struck from behind, pinning his arms and sending him into ground headfirst. Dennard experienced no paralysis and walked to the sidelines, but coaches did not return him to the game. The next day his mother sent him for a doctor’s exam and Dennard was hospitalized, with X-rays showing fractures in his 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae. Surgery was performed on Sept. 25, for stabilizing the spine with plate and screws. “The doctors that saw him were just amazed that he got up and walked off the field,” Saks coach Clint Smith told reporter Joe Medley. Dennard said, “If I had gone back in the game, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I’d probably be paralyzed or even dead.” Dennard was prescribed 6-to-12 months rehabilitation and doctors expected he could return to sports, although probably not football. Source: Anniston Star.
Sept. 29: Luis Morales, 16, Texas, player for Vega High School, suffered fracture of the C6 vertebra while colliding with bleachers during a junior-varsity game. Paralysis occurred, surgery was performed in Texas, and Morales was flown to California for specialized rehabilitation. In December Morales returned to Amarillo and his school, paralyzed from waist down with restricted movement in his arms. The teen’s mother, Liliana Morales, said he was ready to resume classes: “He thought that maybe people would laugh at him because he is in a wheelchair, but we made sure that he knew that there is nothing wrong with that. He’s always been loved by a lot of his friends and everyone at school. They have been helping him in everything.” Vega coach Phillip Wiggins said, “I don’t think the game of football is the enemy here. Football teaches kids so many things. Accidents happen in every facet of our lives, not just in football, and unfortunately it happened to Luis.” Local fundraising helped offset expenses for the Morales family, and the school district purchased a special bus for Luis “that could accommodate his needs,” Brittany Nunn reported. Sources: Amarillo Globe-News, High Plains Observer and ConnectAmarillo.com.
Oct. 1: Shontrelle Johnson, 19, Iowa, running back for Iowa State University, suffered a reported “neck injury” in a game and was sidelined for the season, with no paralysis occurring. Surgery was performed in Texas on Nov. 22 and Johnson faced lengthy recovery, according to ISU coach Paul Rhoads, who said the player’s possible return to football was uncertain. “Shontrelle Johnson is back in Ames recovering from surgery, has a soft collar around his neck but doing very well,” Rhoads after the procedure. Sources: CycloneFanatic.com and Marshalltown Times-Republican.
Oct. 7: Porter Hancock, 16, Utah, running back/linebacker for South Summit High School, suffered a broken neck and paralysis while making a tackle in a game. “Porter finished off the tackle. It was nothing big,” said South Summit coach Jerry Parker. “He turned his head the wrong way.” During surgery on Oct. 8, doctors removed two cervical discs and inserted a stabilizing plate. Hancock was released from hospital on Dec. 16 and remained paralyzed from chest down. Sources: Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, Park City Record, KSL.com.
Oct. 20: Hunter Casebolt, 13, Arkansas, defensive player for Elkins Junior High School, fractured two cervical vertebrae in a helmet-to-helmet collision during a game. No paralysis occurred and surgery was performed to stabilize the fractures. Casebolt was released from hospital after one week, wearing a collar brace. Sources: WriteForArkansas.org, 4029TV.com and KFSM-TV.
Oct. 21: Anthony Conner, 23, Kentucky, cornerback for the University of Louisville, fractured a cervical vertebra when his helmet struck the knee of an opponent during a game. No paralysis occurred and surgery stabilized the fracture. Conner was released from hospital within days, wearing a collar brace. Sources: Louisville Courier-Journal, Syracuse Post-Standard and WDRB-TV.
Oct. 22: Aaron Smith, 35, Pennsylvania, defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was diagnosed with damage to cervical discs and placed on NFL injured reserve for the season. Surgery was performed around Nov. 15, fusing the damaged discs, and Smith’s future in football is unknown. Sources: ESPN.Go.com, Steelers.com and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Oct. 26: Joe Aulisio, adult, Ohio, a sports reporter for WKBN-TV, suffered fractures of two cervical vertebrae of football players’ colliding with him along the sideline during practice at Liberty High School. No paralysis occurred and surgery stabilized the neck column, according to The Warren Tribune Chronicle.
Oct. 29: Carlton Downs, adult, West Virginia, senior safety for Concord University, fractured his C5 vertebra during a game. No paralysis occurred and surgery stabilized the cervical break. Downs was released from hospital within days and wore a neck brace to begin therapy, according to The Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
Nov. 4: Christian Hurt, teenager, North Carolina, quarterback/defensive back for Starmount High School, suffered a CV fracture while being tackled in a game. No paralysis occurred and surgery stabilized the fracture. Hurt was released from hospital within days and wore a halo brace, according to The Yadkin Ripple.
Nov. 5: Tyler Vitiello, 17, New Jersey, running back/defensive end for Saddle Brook High School, suffered a fractured CV while returning a kickoff during a game. Initially paralyzed in his lower body, Vitiello underwent surgery and was standing with assistance after a week, then walking two weeks post-injury. He was released from a rehabilitation hospital in December and wore a collar brace, according to The Bergen Record.
Nov. 6: Donnovan Hill, 13, California, running back/linebacker for the Lakewood Lancers of the Lakewood Pacific Junior Football and Cheer program, fractured his C4 vertebra while trying to make a tackle. Surgery stabilized the injury but paralysis remained in Hill’s extremities. Doctors predicted incomplete recovery. Sources: KTLA-TV, KCAL-TV, KNBC-TV and LakewoodFootball.com.
Dec. 8: Chris Hoke, 35, Pennsylvania, nose tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was diagnosed with a reported “neck injury” and placed on NFL injured reserve for the season. Surgery was performed on Dec. 14, and Hoke’s football future was uncertain. Sources: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Associated Press.
Dec. 18: Johnny Knox, 25, Illinois, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, suffered fracture of a reported vertebral “facet joint” in his back during contact in an NFL game. Surgery stabilized the injury and Knox faced at least four months of rehabilitation, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Online Reports of Spinal Injury or Condition Without Surgery, Football 2011
Note: Football cases of spinal fracture often involve no displacement of vertebrae or puncture of spinal cord, resulting in no paralysis or other acute alert, and in fact unknowing victims can function normally for long periods after injury, including playing tackle football. For such injury that is diagnosed and treated, recovery is often strong to complete. Among severe or catastrophic injuries in tackle football, diagnosed spinal fracture without displacement qualifies among least serious types, and undoubtedly a large number each year will never be reported nor associated with the sport. Some spinal-injured football players return to full contact in the same season, even quickly, as did several in 2011, youths and adults. For this section, available details are fewer and less precise, and no case involves mention of surgery. No paralysis was reported in a case unless otherwise noted. Additional cases of spinal fracture for the football in 2011, yet unpublicized, will be publicly disclosed in the future.
Jan. 1: Ronnell Lewis, 20, Oklahoma, defensive end/linebacker for the University of Oklahoma, sustained a reported neck injury while hitting an opponent during a game. An ambulanced transported Lewis to hospital, where he remained for two days, and no paralysis was reported. Coach Bob Stoops said, without being specific, that Lewis’ injury was similar to the CV stress fracture suffered by former OU tight end Brody Eldridge in 2009. Lewis underwent unspecified outpatient therapy and returned to football in the spring. He played the 2011 season at OU then declared his eligibility for the 2012 NFL draft. Sources: Tulsa World, Oklahoma City Oklahoman, OUDaily.com and StampedeBlue.com.
March, circa: Kendric Cook, 20, Mississippi, tight end for Mississippi State University, was diagnosed with stenosis of the cervical spine, narrowing of the neck column encasing the spinal cord, subject to severe injury by football contact. Cook ceased playing football and became a student coach in the program, according to The Clarion Ledger.
April, circa: John Goode, 22, Illinois, fullback for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, was injured while blocking a teammate in a drill during spring practice. Doctors diagnosed bulging discs in the lumbar spine, along with damage to a pelvis joint, and Goode could not return to football. In mid-September he began a 14-week rehabilitation program that effectively ended his playing career, according to The Carbondale Southern.
June 25: Evan Gray, teenager, California, senior running back for Poway High School, suffered three fractured vertebrae during a fall in pass-league competition. Following rest and rehab, Gray returned for Poway’s football season but was sidelined for a reported fractured kneecap. Sources: Damian Gonzalez on MaxPreps.com and Poway News Chieftan.
August, circa: Brandon Smith, teenager, Pennsylvania, junior wide receiver/linebacker for Lewisburg High School, was diagnosed with a fractured L5 vertebra and surgery was recommended. Instead, Smith played the entire football season. “God has blessed me for sure this year,” Smith said in December, after he was named an all-state linebacker. “Coming into the year it (the injury) got pretty bad… and everybody kept telling me to get surgery, but some people from my church and my mom and some other people just kept reminding me to stay strong and trust in what God can do.” Source: Williamsport Sun Gazette.
August, circa: Tyler Rossi, 17, Michigan, tight end/defensive back for Erie Mason High School, was injured while playing defense in a practice session. “I was going to tackle the guy with the ball,” Rossi later recalled. “I just slipped. My head went down and I went right into his leg. I felt (the vertebra) crack, but I didn’t think it was broken at all.” No paralysis occurred and Rossi was diagnosed with a C5 fracture, Jeff Meade reported. Rossi wore a halo brace for 10 weeks and returned to athletics in about four months, competing for the school swim team, according to The Monroe Evening News.
Aug. 9: Jeff Wozniak, teenager, Indiana, sophomore quarterback for Morton High School, suffered fractured vertebrae and bruised spinal cord in practice when “hit under his chin during a drill and driven backward,” initially leaving him paralyzed, Steve Hanlon reported. Doctors fitted Wozniak with a steel halo head brace, requiring drilling of screws but not open surgery. In ICU he progressively regained feeling and motor function and in two weeks left the hospital for a rehabilitation facility, where he was also released after two weeks. He continued outpatient therapy and hoped to play football again. Source: NWTimes.com.
Aug. 9: Travis Bradshaw, 22, Texas, free safety for Rice University, suffered a vertebral fracture in his neck during a practice session, of colliding with a teammate playing wide receiver. As Bradshaw was diagnosed a few days post-injury, specialists compared neck X-rays of his from two years previous, and they identified a likely precursor factor in “structural differences” over the period, Bradshaw said. “Some of my (cervical) vertebrae had fused together, which I guess was probably one of the reasons for the crack. That fusion put pressure above and below where there wasn’t that much flexibility.” Bradshaw followed doctors’ recommendation that he cease playing tackle football. Sources: FoxSportsHouston.com and DailyTexanOnline.com.
Aug. 10, circa: Mario Crawford, 21, Virginia, running back for Old Dominion University, sustained fracture of the C1 vertebrae in a preseason practice, striking his helmet on a medicine ball in a drill. A CT scan revealed the break two weeks post-injury, and Crawford was sidelined for the season, wearing a collar brace, according to The Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot.
Aug. 20, circa: Devin Mahina, adult, Utah, redshirt sophomore tight end for Brigham Young University, sustained a fractured vertebrae in a preseason scrimmage. Initially the injury was not diagnosed and Mahina practiced football for about 10 days, until doctors found it by CT scan on Aug. 30, sidelining him for the year. Mahina wore a collar brace. Sources: Deseret Sun and Salt Lake Tribune.
Aug. 23, circa: Casey Coyle, 17, New Jersey, quarterback/kicker for Cherokee High School, was diagnosed with a vertebral stress fracture in his back and sidelined for the football season. “I honestly don’t know how it happened,” Coyle said, “and the doctor said trying to pinpoint what caused it would make me go nuts. A bunch of things at one time probably caused it.” Coyle played baseball in the summer along with training for football, lifting weights and kicking. “I felt it (the injury) for a little while but it got to the point where it had to be checked out,” Coyle told The Cherry Hills Courier-Post.
Aug. 25: Will Rishell, teenager, Connecticut, junior quarterback/safety/kicker for RHAM High School, suffered fractures of lumbar vertebrae in a preseason scrimmage. Rishell was sidelined until Oct. 22, when he played in a game and re-injured his lower back. “I was hoping I might just be sore because I was using muscles I hadn’t used (in a while),” Rishell said, “but it hurt for a couple of days after, so (the doctor) thinks I re-fractured it.” Rishell was sidelined for remainder of the football season, according to The Norwich Bulletin.
Aug. 26: Dustin Newman, teenager, Alabama, junior player for Pike Liberal Arts Academy, sustained a fractured thoracic or T5 vertebrae during a kickoff play in a game. He reportedly was sidelined for three months, wearing a collar brace. Sources: Troy Messenger and WAKA.com.
Aug. 26: Nate Stein, teenager, Kentucky, senior wide receiver and special-teams player for Trinity High School, struck an opponent with his helmet during a kickoff play in a game. Stein suffered fractures of the C7 and T1 vertebrae but continued playing before he was transported to hospital and diagnosed. No insult to spinal cord occurred, or no paralysis. “It was a miracle,” said Matt Stein, the player’s brother. “An inch either way and who knows what the result would have been?” Nate Stein wore a collar brace for three months and ceased playing football, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal.
September, circa: Casey Huegen, 18, Illinois, offensive guard/defensive tackle for Mater Dei Catholic High School, sustained a broken neck and was sidelined for the football season, according to The Belleville News-Democrat.
Sept. 1: Kellen Bernard, 15, Texas, running back/linebacker for Palmer High School, sustained a fractured lumbar vertebra on a hit while returning a punt. He reportedly had temporary paralysis and was expected to recover. Sources: Ennis Daily News and WFAA-TV.
Sept. 2: Jerram Rojo, 17, Texas, quarterback/linebacker for Marfa High School, was injured running the ball in a game, with his heading striking the ground. He walked off the field then was hospitalized, where a CT scan revealed fracture of the C6 vertebrae. Rojo wore a collar brace and did not resume football in 2011. Sources: Jerram Rojo on Facebook.com and The Big Bend Sentinel.
Sept. 2, circa: Sam Scholting, teenager, Missouri, junior offensive tackle for Mexico High School, suffered a broken vertebrae and was sidelined, coach Nick Hoth told The Mexico Ledger.
Sept. 9, circa: Kwadra Griggs, teenager, Mississippi, sophomore quarterback for Greenwood High School, sustained a reported vertebral fracture in the neck. Griggs was sidelined two weeks then returned to football for remainder of the season, according to The Greenwood Commonwealth.
Sept. 9: Frank de Braga, teenager, Nevada, senior running back/safety for Fallon High School, suffered a fractured T3 vertebrae and brain concussion while making a tackle. Initially unconscious, the teen awoke and had movement before transport to hospital, where he spent the overnight under observation. De Braga was cleared to return to play two weeks later and finished the season in the Fallon lineup, according to The Lahontan Valley News.
Sept. 9: Tyler Russell, teenager, New York, senior offensive lineman/linebacker for Skaneateles High School, sustained a reported fractured vertebra during a game. Russell missed five games then returned to football to finish the season. Sources: Auburn Citizen and Syracuse Post-Standard.
Sept. 10: Brian Tyms, 22, Florida, receiver for Florida A&M University, sustained a fractured vertebra during a game. He returned to playing football on Oct. 1 and finished the season. Sources: Tallahassee Democrat and The Associated Press.
Sept. 11: Ron Bartell, 29, Missouri, cornerback for the St. Louis Rams, sustained fractures of the C7 vertebrae in an NFL game. Bartell wore neck braces for three months and was declared healed by doctors. He expected to return to football. Sources: 101Sports.com and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Sept. 16: Scott Thibeault, teenager, Maine, senior running back/linebacker for Mountain Valley High School, suffered two fractured vertebrae and was sidelined. He returned to playing football on Oct. 14 and finished the season. Sources: Portland Press Herald and Scarborough Leader.
Sept. 16: Spencer Radke, 18, Nebraska, fullback/linebacker for Nebraska City High School, struck his head against a teammate’s knee while being tackled during a game. Radke was unconscious a few minutes, came to, then could not feel or move his extremities. An ambulance transported Radke to hospital, where doctors determined no spinal fracture had occurred and paralysis began to subside. “I could move my right side and then 10 minutes later I could move my left side, and I was like, ‘Thank God, I can move,’ ” Radke said. The teen was hospitalized overnight and released, fully functional. He missed two games then returned to football for remainder of the season. Sources: KETV-TV, KMTV-TV and Lincoln Journal Star.
Sept. 17, circa: Matt Lindamood, 21, West Virginia, fullback for Western Virginia University, had a recurring neck injury of “stingers” and numbness checked out by MRI, and doctors found severe stenosis of the cervical vertebrae, narrowing of the spinal. One doctor determined Lindamood should cease playing football and consider surgery, but another examining specialist concluded the athlete could still compete, finding no degeneration in his motor and sensory function. Lindamood returned to the team and finished the season, according to The Charleston Daily Mail.
Sept. 23: Jimmy Creecy, teenager, Arkansas, senior quarterback for Trumann High School, suffered a reported fractured C6 vertebra in a game. No paralysis occurred and Creecy was fitted with a neck brace, expecting to be sidelined from athletics at least three months. Sources: FearlessFriday.com and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Sept. 24: Devin Dance, teenager, Colorado, senior running back for Fruita Monument, caught a pass and was struck helmet-to-helmet by an opponent during a game. Dance reportedly suffered a fractured cervical vertebra and was sidelined for the football season. Sources: KREX-TV and Denver Post.
Sept. 24: Derek Hayden, 22, Georgia, safety for Georgia Southern University, fractured his C1 vertebra during helmet-to-helmet contact in a game. Hayden was fitted with a halo brace and released from hospital within days. He did not return to football in 2011, according to The Savannah Morning News.
Sept. 24: John Timu, adult, Washington, freshman linebacker for the University of Washington, collided inadvertently with a teammate during a game, rendering him unable to feel or move his extremities for about a half hour, lying on the field. “It was scary,” Timu later recalled. “It was something I’d never felt before. It was a deep stinger. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one, at least, but I don’t remember ever having one. So it was pretty serious to me—at that time, until I was able to move around.” When Timu was strapped to a straight board and loaded for transport to hospital, the temporary paralysis began to subside. “I was able to move a little bit when I was in the ambulance,” he said. “I was never really in a panic mode.” Timu was hospitalized briefly and sidelined for one game; he resumed his starting position three weeks after the injury, according to The Everett Herald.
Sept. 23, circa: Kason Kennedy, 17, California, running back/linebacker for Temecula Valley High School, sustained reported bruising of a lumbar vertebra. Kennedy was sidelined for a month then returned to football. Sources: North County Times and Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Sept. 30: Deangelo Peete, 17, Michigan, linebacker for Livonia Franklin High School, fractured his C1 vertebrae in three places during a helmet-to-helmet collision in a game. A halo brace was fitted to stabilize the injuries and Peete was released from hospital within days, according to WJBK-TV.
Sept. 30: Cody Ashcraft, teenager, Missouri, senior receiver for Scott City High School, sustained a fractured cervical vertebra in a game, according to The Southeast Missourian.
October, circa: Jesse Winn, teenager, Utah, senior running back for Emery High School, sustained a reported neck injury that sidelined him for the season, according to The Emery County Progress.
October, circa: Mark Luebe, teenager, Colorado, senior offensive guard for Pine Creek High School, suffered a “stress fracture” in a cervical vertebra and was sidelined for the football season, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
Oct. 7: Trevor Flores, teenager, Oklahoma, junior quarterback/defensive back for Frederick High School, sustained a reported bruised vertebra during a game. Flores missed one game then returned to football for remainder of the season. Sources: Lawton Constitution and MaxPreps.com.
Oct. 7: Bailey Ross, teenager, Georgia, junior offensive center for Morgan County High School, sustained a vertebral bruise or fracture during a game. Ross was sidelined for the football season but later returned to athletics, competing for the school wrestling team. Sources: Morgan County Citizen and Eatonton Messenger.
Oct. 8: Chris Thompson, 20, Florida, running back for Florida State University, suffered fractures of the T5 and T6 vertebrae while being tackled in a game and was hospitalized overnight. Thompson wore a collar brace as he began rehab, sidelined for the season. He hoped to play football again, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Oct. 14: Sam Casinelli, teenager, California, junior wide receiver/defensive back for La Costa Canyon High School, sustained a neck injury during a game and was hospitalized with no paralysis, according to CHS-TV.
Oct. 14: William Schultz, 16, California, sophomore cornerback for San Joaquin Memorial High School, collided heads with an opponent while tackling during a junior-varsity game. Schultz reportedly suffered a broken back on the hit and lay on the field, motionless. Coach Allen Ray later recalled: “I didn’t think he was injured as he was. … I think everyone (among players) was shocked about one of their teammates being carried away in an ambulance.” No lasting paralysis occurred and doctors reportedly diagnosed Schultz with fractures of his T3 and T5 vertebrae, along with a “compression” break of the T4. Schultz was hospitalized four days and resumed school a week after the injury; he wore a back brace for three months before doctors reassessed his injury for possible surgery, according to The Pride, school newspaper.
Oct. 14: Keegan Speas, teenager, Oklahoma, sophomore wide receiver for McGuinness High School, sustained a reported neck injury during a game that left him prone on the field for about 30 minutes. Speas was transported to a hospital. Sources: IrishOnDeck.com and Oklahoma City Oklahoman.
Oct. 14: Cody Ratermann, teenager, Illinois, senior running back/linebacker for Mater Dei Catholic High School, was injured when hit while running the football. Doctors diagnosed two fractures in Ratermann’s back, and he missed one game then returned to football. “I went to a specialist… and he said as long as I could take the pain I was cleared to play,” Ratermann said. “I don’t think (the injury) is as bad as people think it is. … (T)he fractures are minute and they’re away from the spine, so I was lucky.” Sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Belleville News-Democrat and Springfield State Journal-Register.
Oct. 14: Sean Walsh, teenager, California, senior offensive guard/defensive tackle for Saratoga High School, suffered a reported broken back in a game. Walsh was sidelined for remainder of the football season. Sources: Saratoga Falcon and Saratoga News.
Oct. 20, circa: Unidentified teenager, Oklahoma, defensive end for Wagoner High School, sustained a “broken back” during a game, Kevin Swanson reported in a discussion forum at CoachesAid.com.
Oct. 24: Alton Brunson, 13, Florida, player on a youth-league team in Miami, suffered temporary paralysis of a helmet-to-helmet hit during a game. Brunson regained complete mobility while hospitalized for about a week, according to WSVN-TV.
Oct. 28, circa: Ronald Tolbert, teenager, Georgia, sophomore defensive tackle for Mt. Zion High School, suffered a reported cracked vertebrae playing football and was sidelined, according to The Times-Georgian.
Nov. 4: Andrew Barr, teenager, Michigan, senior running back for Portland High School, suffered fracture of his C1 vertebra and a concussion during a hit in a game. Barr was fitted with a neck brace and released from the hospital within days, sidelined for the football season, according to The Lansing State Journal.
Nov. 4: Hunter Harden, teenager, Tennessee, junior running back for Munford High School, suffered a fractured CV during a game, reportedly while “dumped onto his head and shoulders” while trying to catch a pass, reported The Paris Post-Intelligencer.
Nov. 27: Cullen Loeffler, 30, Minnesota, long-snapper for the Minnesota Vikings, was struck in the neck and head by a blocker on a punt play during an NFL game. Loeffler reportedly suffered a fractured vertebra in his back and was sidelined for the football season. Sources: St. Paul Pioneer Press and ESPN.Go.com.
Online Report of Staph Infection in Spinal Column, No Paralysis, Football 2011
Sept. 10: Aaron Thibodeaux, 19, Louisiana, defensive lineman for University of Louisiana-Lafayette, sustained a concussion in helmet-to-helmet contact during a game. Moreover, the collision injured Thibodeaux’s back and reportedly “reawakened” dormant methicillin-resistant staphylococcus, or MRSA, which had infected the player’s elbow in the preseason, and it formed a cyst in his spinal canal. Hospitalized a week in intensive care, Thibodeaux survived the infection and did not suffer paralysis. Doctors determined he should cease playing football, according to The Shreveport Times.
April 27: Marcellis Williamson, 23, a former college defensive lineman preparing for pro football, suffered fatal pulmonary thrombosis, a blood clot in lung. Williamson died while training as hopeful for the upcoming NFL draft and as CFL teams scheduled tryouts for the 6-1, 327-pound prospect. Williamson had excelled at nose tackle for Ohio University, where he graduated in recreation management and former football teammates remembered his commitment and personality. “Everything he did, he tried to be the best,” said linebacker Noah Keller. Cornerback Julian Posey was crestfallen during video comments but took solace in recalling his close friend Williamson, including for dance moves: “Watching Marcellis dance… (wasn’t) a rare occasion ’cause he loved to dance, but it was something special ’cause he could move just like any small person would,” Posey said. Williamson’s older brother Denayne Dixon, a linebacker in the Arena Football League, said he was coping with the tragedy. “It’s tough,” Dixon said. “We were real close… I’m not the same. I feel like a part of me went with him. I’m just trying to get through it. I’ll never get over it, it’s always going to hurt, but I’m just trying to do my best. … (Marcellis) was a big guy and that could be a little intimidating at first, but once he opened his mouth, you knew he was a real good guy. He never threw his weight around.” Sources: OhioBobcats.com, Rivals.Yahoo.com, Des Moines Register, AthensMidDay.com and Ohio University Post.
May 12: Luke Killian, age 16, North Carolina, lineman for the Morganton Mountaineers, collapsed during warm-up for a conditioning session with teammates at a city park. Killian, an overweight youth, was pronounced dead at a local hospital, possibly of heat exhaustion, according to reports. Team coach and organizer Doug Deitz had not attended the unofficial workout, which he said was staged by the players. No athletic trainer was present. The Morganton Mountaineers compete in the non-profit Pioneer Football League, which is “founded on Christian principles with an emphasis on helping young men and women develop biblical character traits,” the team website states. “The league provides an opportunity for home-school and private-schooled students ages 12-18 to play regulation football or participate in cheerleading. These student-athletes would normally not have the opportunity to play football through the public school system or if their private school does not offer football as a choice of athletics.” Sources: Morganton News Herald,Athletic Business magazine, WSOC-TV and MorgantonMountaineers.teampages.com.
July 22: Samuel Gitt, 17, Pennsylvania, lineman for Boiling Springs High School, collapsed in a dormitory at Albright College, where his team was attending a football camp, and later died at a hospital. Gitt, listed at 6-foot-3 and 325 pounds on a team roster, was stricken following an evening football practice in extreme heat. Gitt was housed in a dormitory with window units for air-conditioning and some were not operated properly, said Albright spokeswoman Barbara Marshall. Coroner Charles Sweitzer determined Gitt died of an enlarged heart, or “natural causes,” and heat may have contributed. Sources: Carlisle Sentinel and Reading Eagle.
July 27: Isaiah Laurencin, 17, Florida, offensive guard for Miramar High School, collapsed and fell comatose during team conditioning drills on the evening of July 26. Laurencin, listed at 6-3 and 286 pounds, died the next morning at a local hospital. The autopsy report stated Laurencin died “of cardiac arrest during physical exertion due to multiple factors superimposed upon sickle cell trait and alpha thalassemia (a genetic blood disorder).” No single cause was cited, with “co-morbid natural factors” also including hypertension, bronchitis, obesity and temperature of 92 degrees when Laurencin was stricken about 5 p.m. Matt Eagan, sports columnist for Mansfield.Patch.com, took exception with the football deaths of Laurencin and Samuel Gitt in the South, within a summer week, for a post titled “Don’t Try to Beat the Heat”: “There is absolutely no way two-a-day conditioning practices for a high school sport should be sanctioned in July, especially when the heat index rises over 90,” Eagan commented. “Student-athletes, perhaps more so than other students, are raised to trust the adults in authority. … (We) need adults to behave like adults and stop sending our kids out to get in shape when it’s 95 degrees. So many things in life are out of our control. This is one that isn’t.” Other sources: South Florida Sun Sentinel, WSVN-TV andMiami Herald.
July 30: Tyquan Brantley, 14, South Carolina, linebacker for Lamar High School, collapsed after a morning practice session in 100-degree heat. Brantley, somewhat overweight, died in a local hospital. The Darlington County Coroner’s Office concluded death occurred for complications of sickle cell trait, with various factors possible and exact cause unknown. In months following the tragedy, family and friends regularly visited a Facebook page dedicated to Brantley, a popular and beloved teen who had looked forward to high school. A young relative named Commiesha posted faithfully on Tyquan’s page, especially as the holidays approached and passed. A college student, Commiesha identified herself in tribute to Tyquan as “Your Big First Cousin.” The morning of Oct. 25, she wrote: “I was thinking about you. Just sitting here doing my work in my dorm then I look to my left (And there was your picture). All I could do is smile and think about the times we all had together. We miss and love you. Mesha.” She wrote on Dec. 23: “Words can’t explain how much you’re missed… Even though we all know you are in a better place, there are just some things that we cannot replace. Love and miss you Ty. -Your cousin Commiesha.” And in January 2012, having returned to college, Commiesha posted for Tyquan: “Just stopped by your page because you have been on my mind lately (A lot). We love you and miss you.” Sources: Florence Morning News, The Associated Press, www.facebook.com, Rivals.Yahoo.com and Legacy.com.
Aug. 1: Andy Collins, 27, Florida, pro quarterback and linebacker, collapsed while running on a hotel treadmill and later died at a hospital. Preliminary autopsy determined heart attack to be the cause and arterial malformation might have contributed. Collins had played in the Arena Football League and the Indoor Football League but was a free agent at his death. Robust and handsome, Collins appeared in television commercials, and his wife, CBS Sports reporter Brooke Collins, said her husband was “the healthiest person I knew.” Andy Collins reportedly considered the Catholic priesthood before meeting the former Brooke Olzendam in California; both were natives of Washington, where he played IFL football for the Tri-Cities Fever in 2010. “This is tragic,” said Teri Carr, Fever co-owner. “You think about these young men and they could be your kids.” Kevin Anderson, athletic trainer, said, “It’s kind of cliché when something like this happens to say he was a great guy. Andy was actually one of the great guys you could know.” Collins was “an incredible human being,” friend Josh Wallwork posted online. “It’s crazy how you see bad things happen to good people.” Sources: Tri-City Herald, Stockton Record, Yakima Herald Republicand Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Aug. 1: Wade McLain, 55, Texas, assistant football coach for Prestonwood Christian Academy, was stricken at a morning practice session in extreme heat, as temperatures would climb to 107 degrees that afternoon. McLain died at a local hospital, and a witness to the incident, Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, recalled in a prepared statement that the team “had been stopping regularly for water and air-conditioning breaks, and during one break (McLain) became ill and collapsed.” The Collin County medical examiner ruled McLain died of heart problems “associated with heat exposure,” according to KDAF-TV.
Aug. 2: Don’terio J. “D.J.” Searcy, 16, Georgia, defensive lineman for Fitzgerald High School, was found unresponsive in a cabin at team football camp in rural northern Florida, about 90 minutes after a morning practice in extreme heat gripping the Southeast. Searcy, 6-1 and 330 pounds, was pronounced dead at a hospital distant from his Georgia home. The player’s parents and WTEV reporter Ashley Coleman investigated, hearing from Searcy’s teammates that he collapsed twice at Florida Bible Camp, located 135 miles from Fitzgerald and site of four days of summer drills for the public school team. Players said Don’terio was initially found unconscious in a bathroom the night before his death, a Monday, by two assistant coaches following a team “devotional,” but no emergency call was made. The parents, Carlton and Michelle Searcy, weren’t notified of such an incident: “My question to the coaches is why didn’t you call 911 on (that) night and notify me when (Don’terio) first went down unconscious and unresponsive,” Michelle said. Fitzgerald High football coaches referred questions to district superintendent Nancy Whidden, who said coaches whom she queried were unaware of a bathroom collapse. Players also said that Don’terio had struggled in the heat for the camp practices in full pads, including suffering vomiting and headaches and lying down, but coaches did not sideline him. “It was intense,” said player Deion Bivens. “It was real hot and we were running and they were just pushing us real hard.” The Searcy family requested an investigation by Georgia school officials, but nothing had transpired by November, when a coroner’s report in Florida stated Don’terio died of a heart condition exacerbated by hypertension. Heat was not cited as factor. Whidden, the superintendent, issued a statement after the autopsy: “(A)ll indications were that D.J. was physically able to participate in football,” Whidden wrote. “Unfortunately, this long-standing heart condition caused his death. According to the information we have received, there was nothing our coaches or other staff members did or did not do that in any way contributed to this tragedy.” However, U.S. Army Capt. Carlton Searcy was not satisfied, and he contacted the medical examiner in Jacksonville regarding his son’s death; according to Capt. Searcy, the coroner said he was not fully apprised of circumstances like the teen’s alleged first collapse and the team’s practice conditions in oppressive heat. The parents then consulted an unidentified Army medical expert, according to a statement released by their attorney that stated: “After reviewing D.J.’s medical records, autopsy report, and considering the circumstances surrounding D.J.’s death, the medical expert formed the initial opinion that D.J. died from a heat-related event and that his tragic death was preventable.” Inquiries continued. Sources: WTEV-TV,Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WJXT-TV.
Aug. 2: Forest Jones, 16, Georgia, offensive center for Locust Grove High School, collapsed, comatose, as a voluntary conditioning session concluded at the school on July 25. “After practice, he got a drink of water and dumped it over his head and started walking up a grassy hill, and when he did he fell backwards and hit his head. Then he stood back up for a second and passed back out,” said Glenn Jones, the player’s father. Doctors said heat may have contributed, and Jones never regained consciousness, succumbing on his eighth day hospitalized, brain-dead with complete organ failure. Family members said Jones, at 5-8, 240 pounds, had driven himself too hard in the heat, and his death occurred only a few hours after that of another Georgia prep player, Don’terio Searcy. The same-day tragedies in Georgia were America football’s 5th and 6th field fatalities within 11 days of withering heat—repeating closely the sport’s calamitous 8-day stretch of 10 years before, July-August 2001, when 5 players died such as Korey Stringer, mammoth tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Now public discussion reignited nationally, and at Locust Grove, Georgia, one of the 2011 death locales, Gina Hughes was among citizens groping for answers. The deceased Forest Jones had been a teammate of her son, and Hughes noted the players drilled outside on hotter days locally than July 25, when Jones collapsed. “I’m a football mom, I believe in those boys getting out there and working their butts off,” Hughes said, “but everyone has to stop and think.” News writer Paul Newberry lambasted football for outside activities in summer and called for delaying the sport’s start on the calendar to offset heat stress on players, coaches and others. “Enough’s enough,” Newberry declared. “There’s just no need to be practicing football in 100-degree temperatures.” Meanwhile, the Jones family did not carry medical coverage or life insurance for Forest, nor had money for a funeral; local fundraising efforts helped defray mounting expenses. Sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV and WXIA-TV.
Aug. 9: Montel Williams, 15, Arkansas, defensive end for Gurdon High School, collapsed while running sprints about 8:30 at night practice, as local temperature registered about 90 degrees. Williams, conscious when he went down, was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Findings of a state preliminary autopsy “indicated” a pre-existing heart condition was involved, not the excessive heat, but Williams’ parents were skeptical. “I still think they were practicing too hard,” said Sandra Walker, the boy’s mother. Walker said she was not aware of pre-existing health conditions for Montel, an honors student who was solidly built and athletic, and she regretted having allowed him to play football. Montel’s father, Charles Williams, questioned the autopsy report but said: “I have no medical experience, so I don’t know.” Sources: KLRT-TV, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Associated Press.
Aug. 28: Derek Sheely, 22, Maryland, fullback for Frostburg State University, suffered brain trauma on Aug. 22, apparently amid collisions at a practice session. “They were preparing for the next round of drills, and it was then that Derek started to mention to the coaches that he wasn’t feeling well,” said Kenneth Sheely, the player’s father. Derek collapsed as athletic trainers escorted him from the field. The comatose athlete was air-lifted to a regional hospital then a Baltimore trauma center by Maryland State Police, for immediate surgery. Sheely died on his sixth day hospitalized, and his father said pathology results revealed the cause as severe brain injury resulting of head impact. Sheely was apparently the year’s first publicized collision death in football, and his father hoped the American institution took heed—the sport itself and advocates, not merely the Frostburg University community. “I’m not a medical expert. I’m not a football expert.” Kenneth Sheely said hours after his son’s death. “But I would hope that any time, in any sport, whether it be during a game or during practice, that if an athlete passes away from something that wasn’t of natural causes, that was clearly seemed to be induced by the activity, that the NCAA or somebody should try and look into that and see what lessons could be learned. I don’t know if it’s education, equipment, training, a combination of everything—but it seems like there has to be some subtle thing that could be learned that might help protect somebody else.” On the Frostburg campus, student videographer Madison Martin reported Sheely was “known for his determined demeanor and coy sense of humor.” Several teachers remembered him as a top student majoring in history and political science. A visibly subdued Tim Magrath, professor of political science, said of Sheely: “It’s hard for us to understand someone so strong and so capable is gone. He seemed such an unstoppable force. He’s someone I thought would never slow down.” Football quarterback Josh Volpe remembered Sheely, a good friend, as “always in pursuit of excellence,” never missing a practice, workout nor class assignment. Volpe recalled on camera that his first touchdown pass in college, in his first game, went to Sheely on a route out of the backfield. Excited for both of them, Sheely celebrated: “He scored the touchdown then he spiked (the ball) and he got a flag, got kicked out of the game,” Volpe said, smiling. Martin reported that Sheely was scheduled to graduate with honors in May 2012. “Sheely had intentions of serving our country after graduation,” she said. Sources: Prince George Gazette, WTTG-TV, New York Times, Madison Martin on Vimeo.com, and Cumberland Times-News.
Sept. 1: Al Smith Jr., 15, Texas, lineman for Eisenhower High School, became ill then fainted during a practice session on Aug. 30. Smith regained consciousness briefly, but his condition worsened: “(Doctors) were saying his system was shutting down a lot,” Al Smith Sr. later recounted. The teen died after two days hospitalized, and no cause was known immediately. “He was just a good kid, that’s all I can say. A good kid. Whatever happened, I’m lost for words,” said his father. “He wanted to play professional ball, and he always wanted to be a real estate broker.” At Eisenhower High, schoolmates remembered Al Smith Jr. as a kid in good physical condition. “He was real healthy,” said sophomore classmate Tralynn Robinson. “This don’t make no sense,” said sophomore Antanisha Richardson. “I don’t know. It’s sad.” National discussion continued over football fatalities occurring from July until autumn. “For the sixth time this summer, a high school football player has collapsed and died after practicing in scorching heat,” Joel Siegel reported, also noting the death of coach Wade McLain. “The dangers of student-athletes training in extreme heat creates tragedies every year.” A Dallas newspaper’s inquiry into prep football’s practice procedures in summer drew a response from Texas school athletics officials, of the University Interscholastic League. A UIL medical panel wanted changes on time and frequency for “two-a-day” practices, and it recommended an extra hour of recovery between same-day sessions. However, no doctor mentioned revising start date for preseason drills. Meanwhile, final autopsy results were not publicized in Google news banks by year’s end. Sources: KRIV-TV, ABC News,Dallas Morning News.
Sept. 5: Kishon Cooper, 8, Florida, a youth-league wide receiver and defensive back, collapsed outside his home during activity with his father on Labor Day, as they ran and tossed a football. Cooper was later pronounced dead at a hospital. His father, Kerash Cooper, recalled the incident for blogger Eric Ikpe: “I had water in one hand with Kool-Aid in my other hand, and (Kishon) had one more lap to go, and he said, ‘I don’t feel good.’ ” Ikpe reported that heat complications caused the death. Kishon apparently took up football largely with peers, as a strong, athletic youth player for the Washington Park Buccaneers program in Hollywood, Fla. “His desire for the game was so strong that he would come home and run drills around the house,” Ikpe reported. Kerash, a musician, would be drawn outside, leaving the home studio to indulge football with his son. “It got to the point where I would start watching football just because of Kishon,” the father said. “I was proud of him, and what he was doing on the field.” Two days before he died, Kishon scored a touchdown for Washington Park. “It was a good touchdown. It was a good game,” said Matayo Gray, a 13-year-old cousin. Sources: GenNexxt.WordPress.com, Miami Herald and South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Sept. 9: Frederick Latrell Dunbar Jr., 16, Mississippi, fullback for D’Iberville High School, collapsed while blocking on a play during a game, suffering cardiac arrest. The incident occurred about 9 p.m., and trainers and medics attended to Dunbar for 15 minutes, employing an automated external defibrillator, or AED. An ambulance transported the teen to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. “Everything was done on the field to (try saving) him,” said Arlton Hudson, coach of Gautier High School, which hosted the game. “The trainers worked on him when they realized he was not breathing. CPR was administered to him. I know they ‘defibbed’ him three or four times. They did everything they could do… and it just didn’t work.” A coroner was unsure what triggered the cardiac arrest while finding that heart abnormalities may have contributed. Dunbar was solidly built at 5-7, 185 pounds, and video of his last football play did not confirm whether an impact caused his heart to stop beating. D’Iberville coach Buddy Singleton said Dunbar was struck near a shoulder, from the side. “You could see him kind of stumble and he fell. I don’t think he ever regained consciousness after that,” Singleton said. Meanwhile, friends and family remembered Dunbar, who had gone by his middle name, for fine qualities founded in his unwavering positive attitude. “He was such a good dude, such a happy dude,” said Orin Cole, friend and teammate. “Cherish everything you have, because you never know when you are going to lose it.” Singleton, with more than 30 years coaching experience, said: “He was a great kid, real clean-cut, a good student. He was one of those guys you love to have on the team. … It was real tough (at the tragic game). I’ve been in this business a long time, and you don’t get prepared for something like this. I’d never lost a player like this, and I just thanked the Lord it hadn’t happened before now.” Sources: MSGulf.com, Mississippi Press, WLOX-TV and Biloxi Sun Herald.
Sept. 10: Brian Rushing, 17, Virginia, defensive tackle for Southhampton High School, died in his sleep during the overnight following a football game. A preliminary autopsy found Rushing died of stress linked to an undiagnosed heart condition and football collision was not a factor, according to Rev. Charles Worth, spokesman for the Rushing family. The player, somewhat overweight, “suffered no life-threatening injuries from football,” Worth said. “Any exertion would have brought on this condition.” Worth, pastor of the True Word Christian Church that Rushing attended, remembered the young man as upbeat and humorous: “He was a good kid. I can’t say enough platitudes about him.” Former schoolmates posted tributes online. “You will be missed Brian,” wrote Harvey Holt. “You could never be forgotten,” Amber Jefferson wrote, adding, “I shed one last tear for you as I read through that beautiful but goofy poem you wrote me. I miss you. And you will always be in my heart.” Sources: Franklin Tidewater News, Recruit757.com andwww.facebook.com.
Sept. 16: Jerry Green, 66, Tennessee, referee of football and basketball, complained about feeling sick during halftime of a football game he was officiating at Signal Mountain High School. Green went to a bathroom where he was discovered later, collapsed of a brain aneurysm, and he died that night at a hospital. Green, a realty specialist who was diabetic and overweight, had officiated school sports for 35 years in western Tennessee. He was known as a rules stickler who insisted players were fully padded, including hip and butt pads, David Whitley reported. “He was known to be very stern on the field,” said Billy Fairbanks, officiating crewmate and friend of Green. “That’s just how he was.” Sources: WRCB-TV, AOL.SporttingNews.com and Chattanoogan.com.
Sept. 18: Kainen Boring, 17, Tennessee, kicker/linebacker for Bledsoe County High School, suffered head trauma of a helmet-to-helmet collision during a practice session, while making a “perfect form tackle,” said a friend. Boring rose to his feet, walked to a huddle and said, “Something ain’t right.” The 6-foot, 195-pound teen collapsed, remaining conscious long enough to speak with a coach, then fell into seizure. Boring was airlifted to a hospital for emergency brain surgery. His mother, Paula Boring, later said a constricted-arteries tangle found at base of Kainen’s skull apparently contributed to the injury—“venous malformation” or AVM—which she described as “like a birthmark, a cluster of blood vessels that ruptured… during practice.” In hospital Kainen would not regain consciousness, sustained on ventilator with nary vital signs until the removal of life support, and his organs were donated to transplant patients. Weeks afterward, his father discussed the tragedy with news reporter Stephen Hargis: “The first thing I want to make clear is that football didn’t kill Kainen,” said Robby Boring. “We never knew he had AVM until after his accident, but it could have happened by him doing just about anything. Kainen loved football. He loved being part of that team, and this wasn’t anybody’s fault. We don’t even question God as to why this happened. It’s not for us to understand right now.” Nevertheless, the death qualified as the year’s second known collision fatality in American football, according to definition of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR), University of North Carolina. Kainen Boring was a dedicated athlete, faithfully attending football practice and other workouts; the day he was injured, Kainen rose early before school, leaving home at dawn to lift weights with an uncle. “That was the last time we spoke to each other, and I wish now I had held onto him longer,” Paula Boring said. The mother told Hargis she took comfort knowing Kainen’s organs lived on through transplants, like for the young woman in Georgia who received his heart. “I want to meet her so badly,” Paula said. “I want to put my hand on her chest and feel Kainen’s heart beat one more time.” Sources: Chattanooga Times Free Press, WRCB-TV, WTVC-TV, Chattanoogan.com and New York Times.
Sept. 22: Jurelle Davis, 15, California, defensive back for Cosumnes Oaks High School, suffered a severe asthma attack followed by cardiac arrest at his home on Monday, Sept. 19, according to school officials. Davis died that Thursday in a hospital, and football activity was not reported to have contributed. His football coaches said Davis had chronic health conditions, including Crohn’s disease, but the teen was determined to participate and received medical clearance. Davis carried an inhaler everywhere and was remembered as quiet, respectful and intelligent. “He was an undersized guy who had health issues his whole life,” said coach Ryan Gomes. “But he loved the game so much, he never wanted to give it up. I talked to his mom and dad, and they said the one thing he absolutely loved was being out on the football field with his brothers and teammates. He was absolutely aggressive on the field. He played hard and let it all out on the field.” Davis was “one of the hardest hitters we had,” said Vinny Herrera, friend and teammate, “and he pushed himself harder than anyone else. He’s an inspiration to me. … He was a quiet person but funny.” Sources: ElkGrove.Patch.com, Elk Grove Citizen, KOVR-TV and KXTV-TV.
Sept. 30: Angela Gettis, 16, California, cheerleader for George Washington Preparatory High School, collapsed amidst a leg-kick routine during a school football game, suffering cardiac arrest. The incident occurred about 9 p.m., as Washington High tied the game score on a touchdown, and bystanders performed CPR on Gettis until emergency personnel arrived, reviving her only briefly. Gettis was pronounced dead around midnight at a hospital, and family members said she formerly had been diagnosed with an enlarged heart, which may have contributed. “It is a catastrophic loss for the school and community,” said John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Todd Ullah, principal at Gettis’ school, said: “Washington High, like every other high school, has its share of unfortunate incidents regarding youth… but you can never really prepare. It’s devastating, it’s tragic.” Friends described Gettis as popular, cheerful and studious, aspiring to major in forensic science at college. “We thought she’d do something special,” said friend Chizo Iberosi. Sources: The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, KABC-TV and NBCLosAngeles.com.
Oct. 1: Nicholas Gulow, 15, Georgia, center for Rome High School, was stricken at home then pronounced dead at a local hospital. Coroner Ernie Studard said he believed Gulow died of natural causes. Gulow, an overweight youth, apparently played a junior-varsity football game on Sept. 29, but the sport was not reported to have contributed to his death. “He was a respectful kid and he loved Rome High football,” said coach Franco Perkins. Gulow was a “humble and spirited” player, wrote student reporter Chelsea Crumley, and senior football player Cameron Richardson referred to him as “my brother.” The team dedicated a victory to Gulow. “I played my hardest just for him,” Richardson said. Senior player Joe Claytor said, “The whole team was not thinking about losing or winning, but rather to play every play like Gulow would have, 110 percent.” Besides football and track at school, Gulow participated in Junior ROTC, FCA and yearbook. Sources: Rome News-Tribune, Rome High Harbinger and Talley’s Parkview Chapel Funeral Home.
Oct. 12: Ryan Smith, 16, Oklahoma, defensive lineman for Edmond North High School, suffered bone fractures in his right leg, of the tibia and fibula, when struck from behind during a practice session on Oct. 11. Smith, 6-3, 220 pounds, was treated at a hospital and released, with upcoming surgery scheduled for the leg injuries, but at home in the overnight his condition deteriorated. Lethargic, unable to rise from bed the next morning, Smith was taken to a different hospital and admitted to critical care; he died that night and blood clots possibly contributed, resulting from the leg fractures, said one expert. In January 2012, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma medical examiner’s official said Smith died of an abnormal condition or “sequela” originating of the leg injuries, pending a final autopsy report. “Unbelievable,” said Michael Lively, the teen’s uncle. “It’s hard to believe something like that would happen. … It’s just something you can’t understand.” Smith had attended two high schools in the Edmond area, and students at each remembered him as fun and engaging, a teen enjoying football and wrestling, and dreaming of playing in the NFL. Taevyon Warren was a sophomore classmate and teammate of Smith; each had transferred to Edmond North High for the fall, and they met in summer football practice. “With both of us being new, we just bonded,” Warren said. “Just his presence, just him being around, would make your day.” Warren and friends produced a rap rhyme in Smith’s honor. “We did a remix of a song, talking about how life is short and how you never expect to end. We just talked about Ryan and how good a person he was.” Sources: Oklahoma City Oklahoman, Edmond Sun, KFOR-TV, KWTV-TV, ABC News and MaxPreps.com.
Oct. 14: Ridge Barden, 16, New York, defensive tackle for Phoenix High School, suffered brain trauma of contact during a game; he lay on his belly momentarily after a play, until coaches and trainers arrived at his side. Barden rolled over of his power and sat up, complaining of headache. “Coach, I think I got hit head-to-head,” he told head coach Jeff Charles. Then Barden tried to stand and collapsed, comatose; he died later at a hospital of a brain bleed resulting from impact to the head, according to police. A school athletics official in New York, John Rathbun, said: “I don’t think anyone could have ever, ever, ever seen this coming. Accidents do happen.” Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an authority on sport-related head trauma, said of Barden’s case: “Those kind of injuries are very rare, they’re catastrophic, they will happen and there’s no real way of preventing them through equipment. That’s going to happen any time there are impacts to the head of significant force.” The coaches reviewed game video of Barden but could not determine a causal instance between two possible collisions that were routine for football, Jorge Castillo reported. Charles told journalist Castillo he was so shaken by the tragedy with Barden that he considered leaving coaching. “I will never bad-mouth the sport of football,” Charles said. “I played it and I loved it and I’ve coached for years, but it does make me take a second look at it.” Jody Barden, father of the deceased athlete, said he blamed no one and did not want “negative spin” on football. “I don’t want to scare kids from playing the game,” the parent said. “Ridge loved playing the game, and I know he wouldn’t want it to get a bad name.” The death of Ridge Barden qualified as the third known collision fatality in American football of 2011, per criteria of the NCCSIR at UNC. “It’s still shocking,” said his mother, Jacqueline Barden. “He was with us and now he’s gone.” She did not want other players to feel guilty, and she said neither would her son. “He just would not want those people to think that it was their fault,” Jacqueline said. “Everything that Ridge did, he did with full gust. I’d say just take that attitude with you.” Sources: New York Times, Syracuse Post-Standard, WSYR-TV and ABC World News.
Oct. 27: Alec Mounkes, 13, Kansas, offensive lineman/linebacker for Lyndon Middle School, sustained an ankle injury during a game on Oct. 6, initially diagnosed by doctors as a mere sprain. Mounkes, in good physical shape, was prescribed rest, to stay off the injured ankle, but his condition grew catastrophic with development of blood clots in the legs; he twice suffered cardiac arrest, said a school official. The boy was hospitalized for weeks, kept alive on a heart-and-lung machine and undergoing amputations on both legs. Mounkes died following lung surgery as a “great kid from a great family,” said Brian Spencer, superintendent of Lyndon Unified School District. “We are sorry for your loss,” stated an online post to the Mounkes family, from friends in their community, the Scott Jordan family, who added. “Alec was so special and loving like his family.” Sources: Topeka Capital-Journal, KansasFirstNews.com and Legacy.com.
Nov. 1: Aaron “Tootie” Harris, 18, Alabama, a large offensive tackle for Walter Wellborn High School, died of reported kidney failure in a hospital. An overweight young man, Harris first had kidney problems at 4 years old, his mother said, and he was ill the week he played a football game on Thursday night then missed school the following day, experiencing headaches, back pain and lethargy. The family thought Aaron was negotiating usual ailments of football season. “I didn’t think nothing worse until they had to put him in intensive care (at a hospital on Saturday), when he was having shortness of breath,” said Sharon Moore, Aaron’s mother. Harris succumbed on his third day hospitalized, shocking football teammates and coaches on the small roster at Wellborn High, where “Tootie” was a senior-class leader beloved by students and staff. “We tried to keep it together, the coaches tried to keep it together, for the younger guys,” said senior Dalton Screws, Harris’ friend and teammate, “but if you knew Tootie, you would know why it was hard. It was losing one of the best people we knew.” Schoolmates covered Harris’ locker with tribute notes and a Facebook memorial page was loaded with posts from friends of all ages. “Very upsetting,” said football coach Jeff Smith. “We love him (Harris) so much. He was a Panther in the truest sense. He represented our school and our community the best way he could.” Sources: Anniston Star, WVTM-TV and MaxPreps.com.
Nov. 8: Jerson Tizol, 15, Texas, nose tackle for West Brook High School, told family members of suffering a head injury in a freshman game on Oct. 26, and medical examination revealed both hemorrhaging of his brain and leukemia. “He was sent to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he died,” Scott Lawrence reported. “The cause of death was bleeding and swelling of the brain.” The case may qualify as football collision death through follow-up by NCCSIR researchers. Tizol, undersized but intense for line action in football, was an honors student and newcomer to high school who attained sophomore rank for advanced credits earned while in middle school. At Tizol’s former school, Odom Academy, he was remembered as a good athlete, outstanding student and popular personality. “He made friends with everybody,” said Tillie Hickman, Odom principal. “He was a real leader for the children and had an incredible future.” Students and teachers at both schools raised thousands of dollars for the Tizol family, to defray medical and funeral expenses. Giovanni Romero led fundraising at Odom, as friend and former schoolmate of Tizol. “We cared about him,” Romero said. “And, you know, we all miss him. We love him, so we are just trying to help out the family. … You’re never going to know what happens to a person, so just treat them nicely, and get along with everybody.” Sources: KFDM-TV,Beaumont Enterprise and West Brook Times.
Nov. 20: Garrett Uekman, 19, Arkansas, tight end for the University of Arkansas, became stricken on Sunday morning in Fayetteville, alone in his campus dormitory room. Uekman was found unresponsive at 11:15 a.m., about an hour after a roommate had seen him playing a videogame, and medical personnel arrived to find the athlete in cardiac arrest. Uekman, listed at 6-4, 254 pounds, was pronounced dead in a local hospital at 12:10 p.m., less than 24 hours after his last football action, playing in a Razorbacks game on Saturday in Little Rock. Coroner Roger Morris concluded that Uekman had a previously undetected heart condition, enlarged heart syndrome, which caused the death. Toxicology scans came back negative and Morris said manner of death was natural, with no sign of foul play. As No.3-ranked Arkansas prepared to face No.1 LSU on Nov. 25, Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino issued a prepared statement, saying in part: “Garrett Uekman was a special member of our family, and we are all saddened by his passing. His loss is a terrible shock, and it makes you realize how precious life is.” The deceased athlete was a former prized recruit, an in-state product, and his parents, Danny and Michelle Uekman of Arkansas, issued a release through the university, stating: “Our son was living his dream of going to the U of A and playing football for the Razorbacks. He loved his school, his coaches, and his teammates and classmates, and was an influence and inspiration to so many people. We ask your love and prayers for Garrett, our family and his friends as we all cope with this heavy and painful loss.” Sources: The Associated Press and University of Arkansas.
Matt Chaney is a writer, editor, teacher and restaurant worker living in Missouri, USA. His 2001 graduate thesis study for an MA degree at the University of Central Missouri was qualitative media analysis of 466 football reports, historical print coverage of anabolic steroids and HGH in American football, largely based on electronic search among thousands of news texts from the 1970s through 1999. For more information, including contact numbers and his 2009 book, Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Football, visit the homepage at www.fourwallspublishing.com.