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Hobbs says McDermott told Eagles players after safety film: “Nothing changes”

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Former NFL running back Dorsey Levens, an actor and aspiring producer of documentaries, has gotten started with a topic he knows well:  The phenomenon of football players playing football after suffering concussions.

The film, called Bell Rung, features interviews with men who have suffered the effects of serious blows to the head, and who still want to keep playing.

Per CNN.com, Eagles cornerback Ellis Hobbs explains during the film the 2009 injury that resulted in his cervical spine mimicking a jelly donut, with surgeons going through the front of his neck and moving his voice box out of the way in order to insert a cadaver vertebra into place “like a Jenga piece.”

But the more intriguing revelation from Hobbs comes when he talks about the safety film the NFL sent to all 32 teams after the October 17 rash of helmet-to-helmet hits, which included a severe concussion being suffered by Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson after a collision with Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson.

“Not 10 minutes after that film, we went into the defensive meeting and the D coordinator [Sean McDermott] got up and said, ‘Nothing changes about us.  Nothing changes in your guys’ mentality,'” Hobbs told Levens.  “I mean, we all knew that anyway because we want jobs.  I don’t really see anybody with a job who can’t tackle.”

Still, the fact that Hobbs would so candidly admit that the man in charge of the team’s defense would essentially say “ignore what you just saw” is surprising.  (McDermott was fired after the season, with head coach Andy Reid explaining that the shadow of the late Jim Johnson was too large for McDermott to fill.)

Levens, who believes that players were more willing to be candid with him because he played the game at the NFL level, explained the mindset that keeps players from reporting concussions and/or that drives them to want to keep playing after suffering head injuries.  “When you’re in the league, you don’t want to ruffle any feathers,” Levens told CNN.com.  “You don’t want to worry about endorsement deals.  You don’t want to stick your foot in your mouth.  There’s a small opportunity to make a lot of money in this league, and you’ve got to capitalize on it.  We all know that one slip of the tongue can cost you millions, literally, so I think guys are like, ‘I’ll give you a little bit, but I’m not going to give you what I really feel.'”

Hobbs says in the film that he’s still contemplating retirement after having a second neck surgery on a different vertebra following a hit in 2010.  And Hobbs explained the mentality that prompts players to get up and keep going.

“Even though this dude outweighs me by 50 pounds easily, get up,” Hobbs said in reference to a collision he once endured with Ravens running back Willis McGahee.  “You better not stumble.  You better not cry.  You better not put your head down.  Jog and act as if nothing happened.  All you’re thinking about is, ‘Take it like a man.'”

The current goal is (or at least should be) to convince players that it’s far more manly to tap out after being nearly knocked out.  But with evidence of defensive coordinators like McDermott shrugging off the league-issued warnings only days after a player on McDermott’s team suffered a serious injury, there’s an argument to be made that, at least in some cities, lip service is being paid to the important issue of head trauma.

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24 Responses to “Hobbs says McDermott told Eagles players after safety film: “Nothing changes””
  1. skoobyfl says: Jul 2, 2011 6:34 AM

    If you’re a lumberjack, you work with chainsaws. If you’re a wrestler, you have eaten a few mats / turnbuckles. If you’re a footballer, you tackle hard & get hit hard, there is not much to know.

  2. cover2blitz0 says: Jul 2, 2011 7:08 AM

    Per CNN.com, Eagles cornerback Ellis Hobbs explains during the film the 2009 injury that resulted in his cervical spine mimicking a jelly donut, with surgeons going through the front of his neck and moving his voice box out of the way in order to insert a cadaver vertebra into place “like a Jenga piece.”

    that freaks me out just reading about that and hes still considering coming back after this and another neck sugery on top of that? he needs to retire before hes wheeling himself around for the rest of his life…

    it comes down to the question would you wanna be a millionare who couldnt walk or a regular joe who could? id rather walk

  3. giantrealist says: Jul 2, 2011 7:12 AM

    Honestly Mike, saying “Nothing changes about us.” is not the same as saying “Ignore what you just saw.”

    A more accurate interpretation could be: “This film isn’t about us. With very few exceptions we tackle hard and clean. Nothing changes about us.”

    It’s also possible that Levens, being an offensive player, misinterpreted Sean’s message. He may have an alternative motive because his film needs shock value.

  4. macjacmccoy says: Jul 2, 2011 7:19 AM

    These analyst bloggers and talking heads of the NFL world say guys should stop hiding injuries and admitting when there hurt is the right thing to do. But then they tear Jay Cutler apart for not being able to continue. Yes a knee injury isnt a head injury but what kind of message does that send to the other players? Thats its ok to act like they want players to admitt injuries until it actually happens in an important game. These players know no matter what every one involved in the NFL says monday-saturday when the games start if they pull their selves out the first thing that will happen is the analyst bloggers reporters and talking heads with starting talking about how injured they really were or if he could have or should have continued to play. Then it will go from 2nd guessing to people out right calling him soft and saying he didnt want to be out there and quit on his team. Just like they did with Cutler and dozens of other players through out the years.

    Also all we keep hearing from the NFL is how they want to stop hits to head and concussions. How they are committed to player safety. Ok then tell me why on every episode of Total Access on an NFL owned and opperated channel do they show a multiple times a clip of Clay Matthews driving Kevin Kolbs head into the ground. Kolb suffered a severior concussion on that play and it was also a couple plays before 1 of the worse lapse in player safety in NFL history. Where Stewart Bradley suffered a concussion stood up passed out fell flat on his face laid there and slowly got up and stayed in for the next play. Without 1 trainer, doctor, coach, or referee stopping the game to check on him and get him off the field. That all happened bc all the trainers were working on Kolb bc how badly he was concussed.

    And thats the clip you wanna show in the background on a loop during every single episode of Total Access on NFL Network. If they truly cared about concussions and player safety they would never have allowed that clip to be constantly played on their station.

  5. joetoronto says: Jul 2, 2011 7:19 AM

    “The current goal is (or at least should be) to convince players that it’s far more manly to tap out after being nearly knocked out.”

    Sorry but how could it be “more manly” to tap out?

    Just wondering.

  6. ICDogg says: Jul 2, 2011 7:27 AM

    It’s just a flesh wound!

  7. december77 says: Jul 2, 2011 7:30 AM

    “Still, the fact that Hobbs would so candidly admit that the man in charge of the team’s defense would essentially say “ignore what you just saw” is surprising.”

    Did he actually say it or did he “essentially” say it. Nice attempt at trying to bend his words around. Weak… When he says, ‘Nothing changes about us. Nothing changes in your guys’ mentality,’ what he really is “essentially” saying is to stay aggressive. Don’t play soft. He’s not saying go out and hurt somebody. He’s not saying slam your neck full blast into someone’s knee. No, he’s saying keep playing hard. Don’t shy away from contact. Don’t start playing like Asante Samuel.

    Reid already made McDermott the scape goat. Looks like Hobbs is jumping on that wagon. As long as the NFL still plays TACKLE football, there will always be injuries. Guys are running as fast as they can trying to make the big play or stop the other team to the best of their ability. Split second decisions are unavoidable and will always happen no matter how much padding you put on the helmets. It’s the nature of the freakin game! They all know it. If they don’t like it, they can start putting their college degrees they all worked so hard for to some good use.

  8. mimitaroo says: Jul 2, 2011 7:38 AM

    “I don’t really see anybody with a job who can’t tackle.”

    =======

    Did he never look across the field and wave to Asante Samuel while this thought was going through his head..?

  9. tombrookshire says: Jul 2, 2011 8:21 AM

    McDermott is a dope and was rightfully fired. What great insight into the game this article provided. Thanks to Hobbs for being candid. We fans romanticize pro football, and use heroic metaphors to describe it. But those of us who say things like “be a man, shake it off”, really have no idea of what it is really like to play, and stay in the NFL. Through this story, we are finally able to comprehend the lifelong effect years of collisions have on a man’s body and brain. There is no way I would want to get to the point where a Dr. is putting cadaver parts in my neck to keep on playing and risking my life or paralysis. That’s why players should get millions. The dispute is NOT about millionaires vs. billionaires like the media simplistically spins it and many fans have eagerly bought into. Some players, not most, make millions and play a long time. Why shouldn’t they be well-compensated for the damage sustained to their bodies over the course of pee wee, HS, college and pro football? That is many years of damage! It is like being in a serious auto accident for 16 consecutive weeks for 10 years or more. Why are so many fans sympathetic with billionaires and so against the players? They take no hits. They sit in their luxury boxes and are catered to and sucked up to like rock stars. The “millionaires”, as some fans call them, are on the field slamming into each other at high speed for the pleasure of fans and the profit of owners. I say give them money, they are the reason for the game, and the owners and coaches have a responsibility to do everything possible to protect them from life altering injury.

  10. bleedgreen says: Jul 2, 2011 8:42 AM

    McDermott was a self righteous ass that thought he was smarter than everyone else in the room. I can’t believe he got a job with Carolina so quickly. Someone needs to put ginger balls in his place something fierce.

  11. saturn1111 says: Jul 2, 2011 8:48 AM

    From the way that defense played under McFraudmott (or McDoormatt, if you please), it might be the first time they ever heard any instructions from him on hitting.

  12. bubbabart says: Jul 2, 2011 9:03 AM

    Pops: “And you’re the best goddamn hitter I ever saw”! Who, Ellis….no dummy, ROY!

  13. yzguy431 says: Jul 2, 2011 9:07 AM

    tap out and the next man taps in to your job. makes sense. as a practical matter, just a little.

  14. bubbabart says: Jul 2, 2011 9:09 AM

    Seriously….the PaperMill I worked at (Finch, Pruyn @ Co, in 31 years we had 14 deaths….after each death…everything was safety, until it met up with production…then yes, the lip service only was paid!

  15. whathappenedtovox says: Jul 2, 2011 9:12 AM

    “Ignore what you just saw.”

    Lol, not sure that was McDermott’s message… at all… but hey, not much of a post without that reach of a translation.

  16. dempsey63 says: Jul 2, 2011 9:15 AM

    “But then they tear Jay Cutler apart for not being able to continue. Yes a knee injury isnt a head injury but what kind of message does that send to the other players?”

    Yes, there were those who tore Cutler apart for not retaking the field. But I still maintain that his greater sin was his refusal to keep his head in the game and act as a sideline mentor for Caleb Haney.

  17. yzguy431 says: Jul 2, 2011 9:26 AM

    once these guys start tapping out, the teams can start tapping in some lower paid players, and the quality of the product on the field will drop off, and we’ll all start watching ufc/mma. the players realize at a very early age that in order to play the game , you must be in the game. plenty of guys looking for your job.

  18. CKL says: Jul 2, 2011 9:55 AM

    First, Hobbs has his degree and is actually an intelligent dude who has artistic talent and (at least when he was in NE) wanted to pursue a career as an illustrator I think when he was done w/football so it’s not like he has 0 to fall back on.
    If he still wants to play, I think he should have the right to trybut also sign a very extensive waiver.

    I personally hope he doesn’t try to return and goes on to his second career and enjoys spending time with his wife and child while he’s still healthy enough. Then again I felt the same with Bruschi and tat turned out ok for him.

    I think with this issue players and teams share responsibility.

    At the pro level players HAVE to have that mentality of “immortality” football wise. No player would last any length of time nor would they be able to return from devastating injuries if they weren’t mentally tough enough to put out of their minds the fact that at any time they could be permanently injured. Some of these guys come back several times from unbelievably serious injuries to play. Sure some is money related and some is love of the game related too.

    So I would wager that in their OWN minds a lot of them think combinations of that they don’t want to let teammates down, they don’t want another player to get their spot if they sit out and the thing can’t be that serious, they can go back in, etc. Players, be HONEST with your med staff and coaches.

    The team’s responsibility is NOT to let winning a game take precedence over doing what is right for the player’s health. If they know damn well the guy is hurt (i.e. tangible proof like an x-ray or failed concussion tests which now make their return a no-go), TAKE HIS HELMET AWAY…SEND HIM TO THE LR and tell him to shower and get in street clothes, whatever it takes. Because almost ALL players are gonna say “Coach, I can go back out there.” The real weak pathetic coach is the one who knows the guy shouldn’t be playing and lets him play to try to save his own job and rationalizes it by hearing from the player that he wants to go back in. Coaches, don’t listen to what you want to hear, listen to the facts.

    This is one reason I am STRONGLY in favor of that whole “second opinion” rule where players are allowed to seek another Dr’s opinion of their own choosing to be paid for by the team. It’s a MUST.

  19. mrznyc says: Jul 2, 2011 10:14 AM

    Simple solution – Get rid of face masks

  20. apdaddy77 says: Jul 2, 2011 10:19 AM

    Anyone who has played the game knows that when you play timid is exactly when you get hurt. All Mcdermott was saying is that the players mindset shouldnt change

  21. laeaglefan says: Jul 2, 2011 10:20 AM

    McDermott probably used a bad choice of words, but really….what was he supposed to say….

    “Let the opponent score a touchdown rather than risk getting hurt”?

  22. frankbullit says: Jul 2, 2011 12:54 PM

    There are jobs where men die, or don’t live past the age of 50. Yes, die and at what is considered a premature age. Men on these jobs don’t make 1/10 of what NFL players make in a season. In this day and age of Rights Based politics someone can find a way to make NFL players appear to be abused by a system.

  23. seahawk77 says: Jul 2, 2011 1:12 PM

    Soldiers get shot. Firefighters get burned. Boxers/wrestlers get gnarly ears. Nobody is up in arms about MMA(serious concussions no gear) …F this soccer mom mentality. As the game gets more spread out and defenders keep getting Bigger Stronger Faster it is only going to get worse. IT IS FOOTBALL….TACKLE football!!!

  24. axespray says: Jul 2, 2011 7:45 PM

    “Ok then tell me why on every episode of Total Access on an NFL owned and opperated channel do they show a multiple times a clip of Clay Matthews driving Kevin Kolbs head into the ground. ”

    They also run loops of Nick Collins tackling Michael Vick in one of the coolest highlight sequences of the year…
    plus, it’s a network dedicated to football and tackling happens in football games…

    I mean, I guess they could just run video loops of kickers practicing hours before a game if that makes you happy?

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