The collision between Ryan Clark and Willis McGahee in the AFC title game is one of the most sickening hits you'll ever see in football. Let's watch it again!
McGahee spent the night in a Pittsburgh hospital and word this morning is that he is "neurologically intact," which is a nice way of saying he isn't brain dead. He clearly suffered a massive concussion and possibly damaged his neck, but I guess we'll have to wait and see how his body recovers. But the play itself brings to mind two questions:
1.) Has anyone this decade had a harder hard-knock life than McGahee? He's lucky to even be playing in the NFL after his leg was temporarily removed in college, but he keeps coming back after numerous and sundry injuries. I guess he's pretty tough.
2.) Was it a dirty play? Well, I wouldn't say dirty, but it's definitely bad football and that's the real problem. Clark did what way too many defensive players do these days—he tried to hit the runner, instead of tackle him. He dropped his shoulder, lowered his head, didn't see what he was hitting, and did not have his hands out to grab the other player. When you do that, one of two things tend to happen—you bounce off the ball carrier and he keeps going, or someone gets hurt. (Brian Dawkins did the same thing to Larry Fitzgerald in the NFC game. He hit Larry hard at the two, but instead of wrapping him up and keeping him out of the endzone, Fitzgerald kept chugging and scored his first touchdown.)
And Clark nearly did as much damage to himself as he did to McGahee. So, yes, it was a "clean" hit, but it was horrible form and not very smart. Stop throwing yourself around like guided missiles out there, because it's scary and rarely does any good. Unfortunately, it's kind of hard to devise a solution to the injury problem when the very equipment that has been designed to protect football players—hard, unforgiving helmets and shoulders pads—is what makes the game so dangerous.
After big hit, prayers for McGahee [Baltimore Sun]
Willis McGahee Gets "Jacked Up" By Ryan Clark...Clean or Dirty??? [Black Sports Online]