A Firing Offense? Part Deux

At shortly before one o’clock this morning, the University of Michigan issued a statement apologizing for its handling of Shane Morris’ injuries, including a shot to the head, on Saturday. Yesterday, at his disgraceful press conference, Brady Hoke said he would never endanger a player’s safety, nor would he ever put a player back in the game who he thought had suffered a head injury. It turns out that Morris did, indeed, suffer a “mild” concussion, in addition to the leg injuries that had already clearly compromised his mobility. Athletic Director Dave Brandon acknowledged multiple breakdowns in communication between coaches and medical staff and vowed that new protocols would ensure that such mistakes never happened again.

I’m not going to parse the whole statement, which came from Athletic Director Dave Brandon, but this is noteworthy:

“However, the neurologist, with expertise in detecting signs of concussion, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane…Shane came off the field after the following play and was reassessed by the head athletic trainer for the ankle injury. Since the athletic trainer had not seen the hit to the chin and was not aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary, he cleared Shane for one additional play.”

How the head athletic trainer could not be aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary seems unfathomable. Somehow, Michigan’s story seems to be, not a single member of the medical or coaching staff saw Morris take a shot to the head, notwithstanding that all eyes are typically on the quarterback through the release of the football. In addition, Cris Carter said this morning that, as a long-time high school football coach, he’d been in numerous trainings over the years to look for signs of head injury. One that he said was a sure sign was precisely the kind of stumble that 100,000 people witnessed Morris take on Saturday after the hit.

Unless Cris Carter is somehow making that up, or misremembering the training he went through, let’s be clear about what he said. Part-time *high* school football coaches are being trained to detect signs of head injury, but not a single coach or medical personnel member on a major college football program with among the largest budgets in the country could say the same?

This is one of those cases in which being unfathomably incompetent is not a better defense than being dishonest. Both are unacceptable.

And while I said months ago that we should all stop using the term “student-athlete,” since it’s nothing more than an organizational propaganda term, it’s especially sickening in this context. Highly recruited athletes to major football programs are not brought to campus to be students. They are brought to campus to feed the football beast. Please just stop pretending otherwise.

And one more thing – Coach Hoke, the leader of men and teacher of accountability, basically spent 48 hours communicating one thing over and over again; whatever happened on the field is someone else’s responsibility: the player’s, the medical staff. Anyone’s but me.


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