In this week’s college football match-up between Baylor and Texas Tech, Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin III (Baylor’s quarterback), took a scary blow to the head from a Red Raider defensive player after making an attempt to give himself up on a slide. Following the immediate impact from the hit, Griffin’s body froze and continue to slide while remaining flat and motionless for several seconds, before coming ‘to’ and removing his helmet after sustaining a concussion.
This incident tells us a lot about the state of the game of football, even so at the college level. For one, there is a display of pure athleticism on Griffin’s part to move elusively throughout the pocket and toward the first-down marker in an attempt to maintain momentum on his team’s offensive drive. In addition to that, on a more so darker note, we see the crumbling technique of the tackle—something that I have and will continue to be quite critical of.
Texas Tech’s Cornelius Douglas, the man who delivered the hit on Griffin, displayed one of the more common ‘attempts’ at tackling that we have become most familiarized with in today’s contemporary state of the sport. Before rushing to judgment on the ‘dirtiness’ of the play/tackle, and as noted by the Bleacher Report, it appears that Douglas engaged in his motion to tackle before Griffin made his full attempt or display at a defenseless slide. Again, this has become a matter of someone being at the wrong place and the wrong point in time, but one can look at this situation potentially being avoided, or at least managed to be less brutalized in its imagery.
Notice Douglas’ form—he approaches Griffin, stops, turns his body to the side, lowers his head while marking his back into an arch, and throws himself forward; he makes eye contact with the ball carrier briefly until flinging himself at the lower torso of Griffin, and he makes no attempt to use his upper body strength, such as in wrapping up and driving through the ball carrier (as we are taught in pee-wee football, or at least, I hope they still do so).
Hopefully Griffin is okay and ready to come back onto the playing football after being carefully reviewed by medical personnel and foregoing all of the proper procedures that call upon a return to play. And thankfully, to our knowledge, Douglas was not inflicted on the incident as well. Though it didn’t seem to display significant force toward their helmets’ meeting, the whiplash effect and the connection to the turf could be even more troubling in this particular situation.
Overall, the game of football needs a reevaluation of the art of tackling. I know that I have said this plenty of times before, but it has to be done. With awareness and education comes much more exposure to definition and medical care, but with a thorough review of the ways in which we are teaching our athletes how to play the game of football is necessary to at least lower incident rate. We have nothing to necessarily go by on that, but I sure find it a useful suggestion—one that is shared by many others outside of myself.
Note: As this particular story references NCAA football, I feel that it is fair to provide an update on the status of our 2011 NCAA Division-I Football Reported-Concussion Study. I am currently a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh and just got back from Thanksgiving break, which is why the Week 12 update has not been published yet. As finals week approach, I will do my best to stay on top of things as the college football season progresses.