COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Concussions and head injuries are once again at the center of many discussions after this week in the NFL.
By this point, most coaches, players, and doctors have seen what happened to Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa when the team played the Cincinnati Bengals last Thursday.
Not only is Dr. Ben Bring with OhioHealth a team physician at the high school level; he played football growing up and in college. He has also dealt with a few concussions from his time on the field.
He said what happened to Tagovailoa was scary and shows why it’s important there are even more discussions about concussions and head safety at every level of athletics.
Last week, Tagovaioloa stumbled on the field after a hit. A few days later on Thursday, after being tackled, he went into a position doctors said was a sign of a brain injury.
Bring is a family and sports medicine physician and has been on the sidelines of high school games for ten years. He said making the right call for an injured player needs to include open and honest discussions with the player, trainers, doctors, and coaches.
“As a high school team physician, the most important thing I tell our athletes is, ‘Please be honest with me,’” he said. “Because 99.9% of our high school athletes are never going to play in the NFL and so you have your brain for the rest of your life.”
George W. Yates II, head football coach for Columbus South High School, echoes Bring’s sentiment.
“We’re talking about somebody’s brain,” he said. “We’re talking about somebody’s future livelihood. It’s not something to play with.”
While final scores and wins and losses are all part of the game, Yates said what ultimately matters is the humans inside the helmet.
“If I get the feeling this kid’s not quite right, then we’re pulling that kid,” he said.
Yates said he was what happened to Tagovaioloa.
“To put it in contrast, I was at a youth game, my son’s youth game, this Saturday and a kid said something… ‘Hey, my head,’ and the ref said, ‘Take his pads off. He’s done,’ so that was the immediate response to that.”
When he was younger, Yates said there was a culture of coming right back after a head injury, but not anymore.
“Those times have passed and we’re trying to save people’s lives and preserve people’s futures and we’re not living in those days anymore,” he said.
Another central Ohio coach who was set to be interviewed for this story said a player suffered an injury during practice Monday. The coach said they were even more cautious about the injury after the Tagovailoa situation.