SHERMAN LOGAN, 30 (app), defensive end with Richmond (VA), 2004-08, took a knee to the head in practice on Friday 8/13/04 that caused a concussion and a bruise to his spinal cord that paralyzed him for 30 minutes. His NFL aspirations ended on this play, as he was viewed as too much of a risk. Unable to focus on schoolwork, he withdrew from school his first semester and did not play the 2004 season. Logan went on to win a Division I-AA championship with Richmond and earn first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors, but refused to report other minor concussions throughout his college career. He now wakes up with joint pain, has muffled hearing, a virtually nonexistent sense of smell, and has suffered memory loss. Logan said current players should stop and think about the rest of their life and the quality of life they want to live. He said football provided him with endless opportunities, and he was forever thankful, but at the end of the day, “it’s just a sport.”—“Using your head: Concussions make an impact for Richmond football”, the Collegian 4/18/14, Lauren Shute. “Richmond Spider refuses to break despite injury troubles”, PilotOnline.com 10/9/08, Paul White, The Virginian-Pilot.
KURT SCHMITZ, 22, offensive lineman with the University of Richmond (VA), 2010-12, was found dead in his apartment over the weekend of 11/28/14. Police said foul play was not suspected and there was no evidence of suicide. “My son did not want to die,” said his mother, Yvonne. He had suffered at least 4 concussions while playing for Richmond and hid the first 3 from the team training staff. On the fourth one he woke up in the hospital and, when asked by a doctor where he was, said “out in the field having fun on fun day.” His father talked to him about stopping football and a neurologist told him he had to stop, as he was medically disqualified from playing. Schmitz, gregarious and a true friend to many, became frustrated with the effects of the concussions, which hurt his academic performance (he’d been valedictorian of his eighth grade class in New Jersey, a member of the National Honor Society, and spoke German fluently). He struggled with being unable to play and cried. He became a student assistant with the team to maintain his connection to his teammates, but later told his mom he couldn’t be around the game anymore and would concentrate on his studies. “He accepted it,” his mother said. While he advocated for greater awareness of brain trauma in sports, he never sought to blame anyone for his injuries. “My son went out there willingly.” The Schmitz family donated his brain and spinal cord to the Sports Legacy Institute in Boston for examination.—“Former Don Bosco star’s brain donated for concussion research, family says”, NJ.com 12/4/14, Myles Ma. “Foul play not suspected in death of former Spider football player”, WTVR.com (CBS6) 12/1/14, Scott Wise, Jake Burns & Laura French. “Using your head: Concussions make an impact for Richmond football”, theCollegian.com 4/18/14, Lauren Shute.
TOM KIRCHOFF, 44, quarterback with Lafayette, 1989-92, suffers from ALS. The 1992 Patriot League player of the year and team co-captain on Lafayette’s championship team was diagnosed with ALS at 39. No longer able to speak, Kirchoff was named honorary team captain for the 150th meeting of Lafayette and Lehigh by his former (and still current) coach, Frank Tavani, at Yankee Stadium on 11/22/14. Kirchoff typed up his pre-game speech. He has been helped by Penn State receiver Adam Breneman and his “Catch the Cure” fundraising effort, which has raised more than $160,000.—“Penn State football recruit Adam Breneman gains perspective through injury, ALS fundraising efforts”, ydr.com (York Daily Record) 2/26/13, Frank Bodani. http://www.catch-the-cure.com/ “Cedar Cliff grad named honorary captain for Lafayette Rivalry game against Lehigh”, pennlive.com 11/13/14, Mark Pynes.
CLINT TRICKETT, 24, senior quarterback with Florida State & West Virginia, 2010-14, retired from football on 12/26/14 because of concussions. He had endured 5 concussions over the previous 14 months and suggested he hadn’t told the medical staff about some of them at the time they happened. “That was on me. If they would have known, they probably would have been more cautious about it, but I was trying to push through it.” Trickett was not medically cleared to play his final college game in the Liberty Bowl. “It would be dangerous for me to be out there.” He’s the son of Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett.—“West Virginia QB Trickett retires from concussions”, XFINITY from AP 12/26/14.
TREVOR KNIGHT, 21, quarterback with Oklahoma, 2012-present, suffered transient quadriplegia after he took a hit in the fourth quarter of a game against Baylor on 11/8/14. Transient quadriplegia is a cervical spine injury typically caused by hyperextension of the neck, causing burning sensations, numbness, tingling or loss of sensation on both sides of the body. (It differs from a stinger, which affects just one side of the body.) Transient quadriplegia can last from 15 minutes to 36 hours. Knight was taken off the field on a backboard, but not immediately transported to a hospital. He was walking around and talking to teammates in the locker room after the game, and left the complex under his own power. Tests later that night showed no structural damage, including spinal stenosis, a narrowing of spaces in the spine that causes pressure on the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis makes incidents of transient quadriplegia more common. (Missouri cornerback Munir Prince experienced transient quadriplegia during a scrimmage in 2010 and decided to give up the sport. Kansas’ Taniela Pahulu had a similar injury in the mid-90s and was not allowed to return after doctors discovered spinal stenosis. He sued Kansas to be allowed to return, but lost, and finished his career at Southern Utah.) Trevor Knight was cleared to practice on 12/13 and play in Oklahoma’s bowl game on 12/29/14.—“Oklahoma football: Trevor Knight’s injury diagnosed as transient quadriplegia”, newsOK.com 11/13/14, Ryan Aber.
KOSTA KARAGEORGE, 22, senior defensive tackle with Ohio State, 2014, was found dead in a dumpster on campus on 11/30/14, having committed suicide by shooting himself (a handgun was found in the dumpster). He’d been missing for 4 days. According to his mother, Susan Karageorge, the walk-on had had several concussions and a few spells of being extremely confused. He’d texted her about 1:30 a.m. the day he went missing, apologizing and saying concussions had messed up his head. “I’m sorry if I’m an embarrassment.” He’d also complained of head pain at other times. Called “an important practice player” by head coach Urban Meyer, Karageorge appeared in only one game and was known for never missing practice. [ My Comment: Though OSU issued a statement that he was given medical care and proper protocol was followed, the fact that he never missed practice despite several concussions raises doubt, given that most medical professionals now recommend a minimum of 10 days on the sidelines with a strict reduction of mental activity to give the brain time to recuperate.]—“Missing Ohio State football player is found dead”, SF Chronicle 12/1/14, from AP.
TREVOR DAVIS & CHRIS HARPER, junior receivers with the University of California, both suffered scary, game-stopping injuries versus UCLA on 10/18/14. Davis was tackled on a kickoff by 2 UCLA players, with linebacker Ryan Hofmeister landing on Davis’s back. Though it appeared to be an ordinary takedown, Davis remained down for nearly 15 minutes as teammates kneeled in vigil and the medical staff evaluated his condition. Once lodged on a gurney, he began talking and moving his hands, and raised his right arm to the crowd’s roar. Harper later received a pass and stumbled awkwardly with his back to onrushing defenders and was hit in the neck by defensive back Jaleel Wadood’s helmet. Though the hit was apparently illegal, no penalty was called. He lay motionless on the ground before 49,000 silent people for nearly 5 minutes before rising to his feet. Harper suffered a bruised back, did not require hospitalization, and played the rest of the season. Davis was briefly hospitalized and released with a “jammed neck,” which sidelined him more than a month.—“2 scary injuries cast pall on game”, SF Chronicle 10/19/14, Bruce Jenkins.
SHANE MORRIS, 20, quarterback with Michigan, 2013-14, suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-chin hit during a loss to Minnesota on 9/27/14, was left in to play and later re-inserted into the game without proper neurological testing. Due to a breakdown in communication between coaches and medical personnel—many of whom did not see the hit—Morris was examined for an ankle injury and not his head injury. The hit was clearly seen on ESPN2, replayed and called “a concussion hit” by analyst Ed Cunningham, who called Michigan’s player management of Morris “appalling” and “atrocious.” The incident led to the resignation of athletic director Dave Brandon.—“Michigan AD apologizes, says Shane Morris had a concussion”, CBSsports.com 9/30/14, Jon Solomon.
18 college and amateur football players died in 1905, long before the NFL came into existence. There was a serious movement to abolish the sport, led by Harvard president, Charles W. Eliot, a position shared by the NY Times. Though he never played the game, President Theodore Roosevelt loved football. Roosevelt convened a meeting in the White House with the most influential men in college football, then the top level of the sport. Present were Walter Camp, a leading figure in the formative years of the game, and representatives from Harvard, Princeton and Yale. “Football is on trial,” Roosevelt said, and impressed upon them that substantive changes had to be made. He persuaded them to outlaw rugby-style mass formations and gang tackling, to institute a neutral zone at the line of scrimmage, and move the distance for a first down from 5 yards to 10, which led to more passing and revolutionized the game.—“The president who saved football”, CNN.com 2/5/12, Bob Greene referencing “The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football”, a book by John J. Miller.
Triax Technologies of Norwalk, CT, has a sensor system being tested by the University of New Haven Chargers football team and several other schools around the country. Communicating via a small antenna to the coach on the sidelines, who gets a real-time measurement on a laptop or iPad of the gravitational or G-force exerted by any head impact that each player receives during a game or practice.—“College Athletes Test New Head Impact Sensor”, WNPR 8/22/13, Here & Now Contributors Network, Harriet Jones. 8/26/14 Update: “Triax Becomes First Company to Gain Hit Count Certification for Soccer, Football, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse and Other Sports”—“Hit Count Certified Devices Can Help Parents and Coaches Track Hits to the Head and Minimize Risk of Concussion”, headlines from an 8/26/14 press release from the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), a non-profit concussion education, advocacy and research organization. These devices measure impacts exceeding 20g’s of linear force, defined as a Hit, so parents and coaches can monitor head impacts. Hit Count is a registered trademark of SLI.