Having a Rutgers player paralyzed is bad news at anytime. However, the Rutgers player was paralyzed a day before a series of hard hits in the NFL. A few major receivers were knocked out because of hits to the helmet, which gave them potential concussions. Yet if the hits had gone differently, one way or the other, they could have been far, far worse. The news of a player getting paralyzed is nothing new to college football, but before long, it could be frequent in the NFL as well.
Eric LeGrand suffered his injury during Rutgers’ overtime victory over Army. In the fourth quarter, LeGrand’s head collided with the left shoulder of Army kick returner Malcolm Brown. The defensive tackle could not get up and, before long, it became evident how serious this was.
The Rutgers player is paralyzed from the neck down, and needed surgery to stabilize his spine Saturday night. He is in intensive care at Hackensack University Medical Center, but coach Greg Schiano claimed that his spirits were “as good as you can expect.”
However, college football is facing its first case of paralysis in 10 years, after Penn State’s Adam Taliaferro suffered a major spinal cord injury. Yet Taliferro made an inspirational recovery, and everyone is hoping that LeGrand will do the same.
Schiano is looking for inspiration from that ordeal, as he called Joe Paterno about it during the weekend, Taliaferro himself is expected to visit LeGrand sometime in the next few days. But while those involved are still hoping for another heart-warming recovery, the aftermath of having the Rutgers player paralyzed goes beyond college football.
The NFL hasn’t had anyone get paralyzed in some time, although many feared the worse after several hard hits yesterday. Star receivers DeSean Jackson and Todd Heap got struck down when they were hit by the defender’s head. The trend of having defensive players charge head-first has caused many serious injuries over the years, although these hits had ominous timing.
In addition to these incidents, Detroit linebacker Zack Follett was motionless for several minutes following a helmet-to-helmet collision. Two players on the Cleveland Browns were also knocked out from bad hits to the head by Steelers’ defensemen. None of them turned out paralyzed like the Rutgers player, yet they may have been lucky not to.
Fans and pundits have been concerned for a while about hits like this, and how much worse they can get. Having this many serious injuries occur after LeGrand’s tragedy will take the debate up a notch, and lead to calls for more serious preventive action.
Not much could have stopped LeGrand’s paralysis, but the NFL may be living on borrowed time before the same thing happens to one of their players.
New York Times- “Rutgers Player Is Paralyed Below the Neck”
Victoria Advocate- “Collision throws scare into NFL crowd”