The Rutgers University Shield.
A Rutgers student was paralyzed after a football collision. CC by Rutgers University/Wikimedia Commons

A collision recently left a Rutgers player paralyzed. The injury occurred in a freak hit during the Rutgers game against Army. There has been growing concern over player safety in football, especially in the professional ranks, and the Eric LeGrand injury is calling more attention to the issue. The NFL has been on a campaign to reduce harm to players. Concussions and other head injuries have been of especially great concern. Damage sustained by football players at all levels, especially by helmet contact, is a growing national concern.

During the kickoff return, player for Rutgers paralyzed

ESPN reports that a Rutgers football player became paralyzed during a kickoff return in a match between Rutgers University and Army. Rutgers defensive left tackle Eric LeGrand was trying to tackle Army running back Malcolm Brown as Brown was returning the kickoff. He made a decision just before the tackle that resulted in the injury. He lowered his helmet. After colliding with Brown, he lay motionless on the field. Several minutes later, he was transported off the field on a stretcher. LeGrand was taken to a hospital, where it was determined Eric LeGrand’s injuries included fractures to his third and fourth cervical vertebrae. He will likely be paralyzed from the neck down.

Player safety in the NFL

The NFL has instituted rules this season for greater player safety. Before going back to practice, any player who gets a concussion has to pass a battery of tests to prove he is able to play again. Harsher penalties are being called for against helmet-to-helmet hits, according to the NFL. Lowering one’s head at the moment of impact also creates risk. Sports illustrated explained that while being tackled by Jack Tatum, Darryl Stingley lowered his helmet during a pre-season game in 1978 against the Oakland Raiders. Stingley became paralyzed. Tatum tried to avoid the helmet to helmet hit but was named “The Assassin” anyway. The Raiders, and especially Tatum, were stigmatized as cheap shot artists as a result.

Information from

ESPN: http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/ncf/news/story?id=5696563

NFL: http://nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81b6d381/article/suspensions-could-be-coming-for-helmettohelmet-hits

Sports Illustrated: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/football/nfl/07/28/tatum/

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