Cervical spine (neck) injuries are catastrophic football injuries that can result in death and acute and chronic suffering, many medical and surigical treatments, rehabilitations and life-long disabilities.

Cervical spine injuries are accidents or some are not accidents and are preventable. Spearing should never be coached as a technique for blocking or tackling. Spearing injuries to the neck are preventable. Using the head as a battering ram is extremely dangerous and can result in severe head and neck injuries. Spearing should be removed from blocking and tackling techniques.

The head should be taken out of football.

Kentucky football recruit De’Antre Turman died Friday night 8/17/2013 from a broken neck he sustained making a tackle during scrimmage. De’Antre was an 11th grader at Creekside High School in Georgia. The 5-11, 164-pound cornerback was a rising star in the 2015 class. UK was his first major-college scholarship offer in June. My condolences to the family and football community. [True Blue Coverage, 8/17/2013]


“Louisiana has one of the highest rates in the nation of cervical spinal cord injuries to high school football players. When the national rate of these injuries is applied to the number of high school participants in Louisiana, we would expect there to be only one catastrophic neck injury every 14 years.

“Louisiana, however, has averaged 2.3 spinal cord injuries per year for the past seven football seasons. Players who use the top of their helmets to tackle, block or strike opponents are at greatest risk for these injuries. This study was undertaken to describe the safe tackling knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Louisiana high school football players.

“We surveyed 596 players from 16 Louisiana high schools. When asked if it was within the rules to tackle anyone by using the top of their helmet, 29% incorrectly answered “yes”. Similarly, when asked if they had ever tackled anyone using the top of their helmet) 33% reported that they had.

“28% said that they had been taught to use this unsafe method. Of these, 83% said that their coach taught them this dangerous and illegal method.

“Using the helmet as a battering ram must be discouraged. Education for officials, coaches, and players is needed to improve recognition of improper tackling. Proper training in tackling and blocking is an important means of minimizing the possibility of catastrophic injury.

[High School football related cervical spinal cord injuries in Louisiana: the athlete’s perspective, David W. Lawrence, MPH, RN, CS, Gregory W. Stewart, MD, Dena M. Chirsty, MPH, Lynn I. Gibbs, MPH, March Ouellette, MD, MPH, 1996 Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society, Inc This project was funded in part by grant MU59 CCU603362 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Environmental Health, Disabilities Prevention Program, and with technical support from the CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Acute Care, Rehabilitation Research, and Disability Prevention.]

Tulane football athlete, Devon Walker, was seriously injured during an NCAA colllege football game in Tulsa, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. His neck was fractured, he stopped breathing on the field and was resuscitated. Unfrotunately, Devon was paralyzed from his neck down.

Physicians, trainers and other health care personnel reacted rapidly and had an emergency action plan that saved his life on the field. The rapid response was miraculous, but the serious injury was devastating.

The Long term affects and paralysis remain uncertain. Some feeling has been reported in his arms and legs after rehabilitation. Many concerned pray for steady improvement in the near future.

“Headline-grabbing injuries such as Walker’s tend to elevate the debate of football safety amid growing evidence and concern that repeated concussive blows to a player’s head can lead to dementia, depression, perhaps ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, an irreversible death sentence for those stricken, such as former Saints’ defensive back Steve Gleason

How can the risks be reduced?

“J.T. Curtis, head coach at John Curtis, says all coaches are now acutely aware of the importance of proper tackling techniques to avoid catastrophic injury.

“The most important thing is that there is an emphasis placed on making sure that the head stays in an upright position at all times,” Curtis said.

“No. 2 is that we keep the head out of contact as much as possible and that’s one of the things that makes it difficult because (football) is a sport where collisions take place. Your head’s going to come into contact with another player.

“Sometimes you might not intend for it to and the (other) player cuts in the wrong direction and you’re going to have head to head contact. Or you’re going to miss a tackle or miss a block and hit a player that you had no intention of hitting.

“Now in his 44th year as head coach at Curtis, where he has won 24 state championships, Curtis has served as an expert witness in nearly a dozen civil court trials dating to the early 1990s involving catastrophic injuries resulting in paralyzing spinal injuries.

“Over the years, Curtis says he has spoken with his share of concerned parents.

“And I’ve tried to make sure they understand what we’ve asked (the players) to do and what we teach and why we teach it and how we teach it and make sure that they are fully of what we try to do,” Curtis said. “But I can’t promise them that there won’t be an accident.

“So the emphasis point should be that we want to keep our head in an upright position. We want to not try to use our helmet as a means of a spear or a weapon to hurt the other player. It should be used as a protective device to protect you from facial injury or some head injury in a sport that’s going to have contact. Coaches today, I think especially today because of the emphasis that’s been placed on it, work very hard to make sure that they’re players know how to play safely.

“They work hard to make sure that they emphasize it in practice and that they practice it in practice.”

“If someone puts their head down on a tackle, coaches get very upset,” said LSU safety Eric Reid. “We’ll do a drill on it the next practice, you can be sure of that. They care about us, would hate to see us get hurt. They put it in our hands. If you know how to tackle right, it will reduce the risk. They really do get angry because they know if you got out of that, the next time you may not be so lucky.”

[Devon Walker’s injury a reminder of inherent dangers of the country’s most popular sport by Jimmy Smith, The Times-Picayune Sept 15, 2012 ]

“J.T. Curtis, 65, who has coached generations of football players at John Curtis Christian School, applauds rule changes that have made play safer. Dangerous-sounding techniques, including the crack-back block, spearing, horse-collar tackling, and the chop block, once were commonplace, but now are forbidden, he said. Equipment also has improved, he said. And that’s good. [the NFL ready for some safer football? by Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune Oct 25, 2012]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *