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Concussions take on a strategic component

New York Giants wide receiver Thomas recovers a fumble by San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Williams during overtime during the NFL's NFC Championship game in San Francisco Reuters

With the NFL increasingly sensitive to concussions and, more importantly, increasingly willing to pull players out of games who have suffered concussions, it was only a matter of time before teams began to use concussions as a way to gain a strategic advantage.

Benjamin Wallace-Wells of New York Magazine points out that the Giants apparently did just that to 49ers kick returner Kyle Williams on Sunday.

Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams said after the New York victory that the plan for attacking Kyle Williams was to, well, attack him.  “The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game,” Jacquian Williams said, via the team’s official website.

Receiver Devin Thomas, who recovered both a muffed punt and fumbled return from Kyle Williams, agreed.  “He’s had a lot of concussions,” Thomas said, via the Newark Star-Ledger. “We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’ . . .   [Giants reserve safety Tyler] Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up.  I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.”

Without Kyle Williams, the 49ers would have been down to their third option at punt returner, given that Ted Ginn missed the game with a knee injury.

It’s unknown whether he had a concussion or something close to one; in comments to the media after the game, Kyle Williams seemed fine.  But the point is that, when a player has a history of concussions, he becomes a target for more.

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69 Responses to “Concussions take on a strategic component”
  1. pedroherce says: Jan 23, 2012 10:23 PM

    Pathetic.

  2. Kyle Orton's Hangover says: Jan 23, 2012 10:23 PM

    As morbid as that sounds, it’s a physical game and concussions are an unfortunate side effect.

  3. stevenfbrackett says: Jan 23, 2012 10:29 PM

    That is sickening.

  4. mh28102 says: Jan 23, 2012 10:30 PM

    classless by the giants

  5. jackntorres says: Jan 23, 2012 10:36 PM

    Let’s not mention this was the 9ers plan for Pierre Thomas, and every other skill position player they faced this year. The 9ers are the worst offenders of this strategy and I look forward to them receiving a hefty dose of IR revenge next year.

  6. depleted00uranium00balth says: Jan 23, 2012 10:49 PM

    Wow… I guess things like that are inevitable in highly competitive situations, but to hear them talk about it so openly is disturbing.

    I hope they lose the SB, and that the Cowboys get it together next year and win the NFC East.

  7. jgreiner9 says: Jan 23, 2012 11:00 PM

    I dont think they were saying we were out to hit him and give him a concussion but, because of his history of concussions, they felt like if they just put a hit on him he might become gun-shy to contact or rattled.

  8. 90suhperbowl90 says: Jan 23, 2012 11:09 PM

    They seem so proud of this “strategy”, no class.

  9. bleed4philly says: Jan 23, 2012 11:10 PM

    Didn’t Brandon Jacobs want them to aim for his head?

  10. drewsylvania says: Jan 23, 2012 11:17 PM

    Classless by the Giants…and probably every other team, too.

    And I’m a Pats fan, who is used to having people swear on the Bible that out of every team that ever existed, only the Pats cheated.

  11. nesuperfan says: Jan 23, 2012 11:19 PM

    The other game, but you have to wonder if Bernard Pollard is trying to hurt players, even if he hides it to make it less obvious.

  12. wferg1121 says: Jan 23, 2012 11:23 PM

    So? Are we supposed to play tag now? Everyone is trying to hit hard in football, just like there is bounties on QB’s. If you don’t like hits go watch baseball or basketball!

  13. wyoyyz says: Jan 23, 2012 11:23 PM

    Classless NYG

  14. vincentbojackson says: Jan 23, 2012 11:40 PM

    Players target their opponents injuries?

    Never would have guessed this on my own.

  15. wferg1121 says: Jan 23, 2012 11:42 PM

    Teams look at Injury reports all the time, that’s why teams are so secretive about it. Tuck had neck/toe issue and HE said that offensive players were hitting him in the head and trying to step on his toe. Look at the steelers LB Harrison, the Giants players were aware of his concussions, didn’t say they were trying to give him one, probably just wanted to remind him he has a problem.

  16. lazerlike42 says: Jan 24, 2012 12:15 AM

    These players should be suspended for the Super Bowl, and possibly even Tom Coughlin. Yes, that’s a *tremendous* penalty to the players as well as the team, but they have essentially just admitted to trying to give an opponent a concussion. Nothing short of the strongest discipline possible should result.

  17. steveschwarz21 says: Jan 24, 2012 12:25 AM

    AWFUL and unbelievable. How could you sleep at night knowing you intentionally caused a concussion which contributing all sorts of brain disorders? Are these players stupid? They should be taking care of each other not targeting each other. No game is worth this. Accidents happen but targeting guys? Too far….

  18. illinininer says: Jan 24, 2012 12:26 AM

    I would like to know how the Giants knew about his medical history. I follow the 49ers closely and I only know of him having one concussion. Team officials would have the medical history of most players in the league, it’s not common knowledge that players would know about.

  19. east96st says: Jan 24, 2012 12:28 AM

    Funny. All the niner fans are condemning this, yet before the game, all they could post was how they were going to “punch the Giants in the mouth”, take out Eli, and knock the Giants RBs and WRs out cold a la Pierre Thomas. Strange how moral people get when they lose a game in part because the other team played exactly like they do. BTW – can any of you point to ONE time in the game when the Giants took a shot at Williams head? No? Didn’t think so. The only 49er that got a head shot and a concussion, got it from his teammate. But don’t let facts get in the way of your whining. Your coach sure isn’t.

  20. njdevil7 says: Jan 24, 2012 1:04 AM

    Everyone calls out the Jets for talking, but all the Giants do is talk and perform classless acts. Will someone ever call them out on it?

  21. mi6agent says: Jan 24, 2012 1:17 AM

    Lawrence Taylor used to pay call girls and sent them to the other team hotel before the game. He must have read Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

  22. gmboy95 says: Jan 24, 2012 1:23 AM

    the nfl is completely complicit in the long term disability of scores of men

  23. maximus929 says: Jan 24, 2012 1:45 AM

    Now we have two of the scummiest orgs in football in the Super Bowl.

    Too bad they both can’t lose.

  24. agelardi says: Jan 24, 2012 1:51 AM

    Lucky for the Giants, they didn’t knock him out of the game.

  25. forever8young says: Jan 24, 2012 1:58 AM

    jackntorres says: Jan 23, 2012 10:36 PM

    Let’s not mention this was the 9ers plan for Pierre Thomas, and every other skill position player they faced this year. The 9ers are the worst offenders of this strategy and I look forward to them receiving a hefty dose of IR revenge next year.

    ==================================

    What’s your problem man? You find a way to steer every 49ers article to the Saints. Get over yourself.

  26. Pacific NW Mark says: Jan 24, 2012 2:04 AM

    Wow, “he’s had a lot of concussions, we need to put a hit on this guy?” If that’s an accurate quote that’s pretty despicable on the part of the Giants.

  27. johnesmoker says: Jan 24, 2012 2:11 AM

    Lmao that 49er fans are mad over this when they were cheering 49ers knocking RBs out and saying they were going to do the same to Bradshaw.

  28. blackbear10ml says: Jan 24, 2012 2:31 AM

    The ultimate cheap-shot mentality!! One (or more) would have to be super cheap/dirty to focus on just one player with 4 (or more) concussions, and try to “knock him out of the game”…when there are 10 others to contend with!! Gunning for a player just because he’s full of concussions is the pits of being cheap…like shooting someone in the back…bunch of f—–g cowards!! And the coach was just as much a coward for letting a player on the field with 4 or more concussions!!! When winning is more important than a player possibly being a vegetable for the rest of his life….things are getting pretty bad!

  29. lemzilla says: Jan 24, 2012 2:36 AM

    Kyle Williams, like all NFL players, knows that catastrophic injury or death are possible even with a perfectly legal hit. They accept this risk along with a big fat check and pay the piper later in life. You can count on one hand the number of former NFL players that wouldn’t do it all again despite numerous surgeries and a less than ideal quality of their present lives.

    To think that one would get between the lines with an injury and not know that his opponent will use that against him is ludicrous. And the thought that the Giant’s are playing “dirty” because they know a good hit will probably concuss Kyle Williams doesn’t fly either.

    No sport where large, fast men run into each other constantly can really be deemed “safe” by any conventional metric. If you want safe, play chess. And these men are playing football weeks after major surgeries that would keep us civilians out of our cubicles for months. This suggests they want back to work way more than we do after an injury.

    As a viewer and fan, I cringe when I see anyone down for more than a few seconds with limbs lying limp on the ground. And automatically relieved at the sight of arms and legs moving and a player rising slowly to his feet.

    But let’s not get all squishy because some football players spoke the obvious out loud without bothering to sugarcoat it for mass media consumption.

  30. 160hfalligatorhater says: Jan 24, 2012 2:40 AM

    Wait til YOUR son is injured and can’t remember, IQ drops significantly, headaches and anger reach a level so high… you’ll look @ head injuries from a totally different perspective.

    A healing brain causes a horrible anger problem, so watch out boys, you are heading for nightmare, trust me.

  31. blackbear10ml says: Jan 24, 2012 2:50 AM

    By the way…. didn’t they make new rules to protect the “defenseless” quarterback/s from opposing players that are usually “gunning” for him?? DUUHH!! What the hell is wrong with protecting a player with multi-concussions??? What happened to the helmet to helmet rule??

  32. bischof21 says: Jan 24, 2012 2:54 AM

    A concussion article? No way

  33. bischof21 says: Jan 24, 2012 2:54 AM

    *A, not as. Damn iPhone.

  34. krose91 says: Jan 24, 2012 3:24 AM

    If I had 4 concussions after high school, college and 1 year in the NFL I would quit playing football. Your brain can’t take another one. Forget about the money. You can’t appreciate it when you’re brain damaged.

  35. mornelithe says: Jan 24, 2012 3:43 AM

    @ jgreiner9: I’d be inclined to agree with you except they specifically stated they wanted to ‘take him outta the game’. Not, knock him off his game. That’s a pretty dangerous attitude, and not really necessary.

    Giants won, and I’m not trying to take anything away from that, but c’mon guys, you’re a talented team you should be able to play good physical football, and beat your opposition without intentionally trying to seriously hurt players.

  36. seaner44 says: Jan 24, 2012 3:58 AM

    Thumbs up to jgriener9 nailed it

  37. alldonesmith says: Jan 24, 2012 4:05 AM

    there’s a big difference between laying the wood and intentionally trying to hurt an opposing player, especially by hitting him in the head where you can do brain damage. just about the most classless thing you can do on a football field.

  38. ashleenaome says: Jan 24, 2012 4:46 AM

    Weren’t the 49ers going to “kick the Giants in the face”? I seem to remember that comment …

    Didn’t the 49ers knock Pierre Thomas cold?

    Isn’t this the same 49er team that prides itself on physically intimidating opponents?

    Perhaps they should stop crying when another team hits them back. Because right now all their post game excuses … Harbaugh whining about calls … and all the ‘rules lawyering’ from their fans … is making them look really bad.

  39. nfl1818 says: Jan 24, 2012 6:09 AM

    I wondered if the ravens would do this with the pats. I saw no evidence. It’s one thing to target a shoulder. It s entirely another to target the brain. Count this as negative karma for the giants in my book.

  40. jenniferxxx says: Jan 24, 2012 6:39 AM

    Weren’t the 49ers going to “kick the Giants in the face”? I seem to remember that comment …

    Didn’t the 49ers knock Pierre Thomas cold?

    Isn’t this the same 49er team that prides itself on physically intimidating opponents?

    Perhaps they should stop crying when another team hits them back. Because right now all their post game excuses … Harbaugh whining about calls … and all the ‘rules lawyering’ from their fans … is making them look really bad.

  41. dalfanforever says: Jan 24, 2012 6:52 AM

    I understand you go for a tender spot or an injury, but one that can potentially give you brain damage and/or kill you? I have a whole new reason to hate the Giants now.

  42. bigjdve says: Jan 24, 2012 7:02 AM

    Well at least there was a team honest enough to admit that they were headhunting.

    Not that it is much comfort.

  43. thehungariancrippler says: Jan 24, 2012 7:04 AM

    What a bunch of meatheads. I’m sure that these knuckle-dragging morons would also tell you how they aren’t looking to end anyone’s career, either….a concussion here…a concussion there….no big deal.

  44. mikea311 says: Jan 24, 2012 7:09 AM

    classless by the giants

    ————–

    yeah, becuase the 49ers clearly weren’t trying to give ELI one.

  45. jenniferxxx says: Jan 24, 2012 7:10 AM

    And while we’re discussing it … how many personal foul penalties were called in that game? How many ‘blows to the head’ were called?

    There must have been a lot with all that horrible head-hunting going on. The refs must have been throwing flags left and right.

  46. steelerdynasty2010 says: Jan 24, 2012 7:28 AM

    jgreiner9 says: Jan 23, 2012 11:00 PM

    I dont think they were saying we were out to hit him and give him a concussion but, because of his history of concussions, they felt like if they just put a hit on him he might become gun-shy to contact or rattled.

    —————————————————-
    nice take…minor problem:
    “The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game”

    rationalize all you want, but they were trying to permanently injure this kid for the purposes of ONE game.

  47. cleverbob says: Jan 24, 2012 7:49 AM

    They basically said what every NFL defense and special teams cover unit is thinking – “I want to hit this guy so hard that he won’t want to get up again”.

    To view his prior concussions as a weakness that could be exploited was both cold hearted and strategically accurate.

  48. 49erstim says: Jan 24, 2012 7:59 AM

    I sure do hope that they arent impling they were trying to take him out via head shot. Thats very disturbing if true.

    As for people above saying something akin to”stop whining” read the article again. this was stated by the GIANTS and not the49ers. Get over your hatred for a football team for 5 seconds and try to rejoin humanity for just 1 discussion. There isnt even 1 player I’d wanna see headhunted and intentionally injured. If you cannot say the same then thats a “you problem”.

    BTW… there is a line between physical football and headhunting. That Pierre Thomas hit wasnt an intentional head shot. Defender went low and then the RB went low. Please watch the games BEFORE commenting. Thanks.

  49. east96st says: Jan 24, 2012 8:31 AM

    Still waiting for ONE of you to name one instance where they targeted his head. Anyone? Hello? Yep, still nothing but silence. You’ll pontificate about “morals” but can’t manage to name one time a head shot happened – because IT DIDN’T!!! I especially find it hysterical that a guy who goes by “steelerdynasty2010″ is lecturing us about delibrate head shots. Dude, how many times have the Steelers had a player suspended or fined for head shots? It’s the core philosophy of your defense.

  50. jackntorres says: Jan 24, 2012 8:54 AM

    BTW… there is a line between physical football and headhunting. That Pierre Thomas hit wasnt an intentional head shot. Defender went low and then the RB went low. Please watch the games BEFORE commenting. Thanks.
    —-
    And who are you donte whitner? He went helmet to helmet and you don’t know he didn’t want to knock out PT. I believe if they couldn’t get to brees, which they didnt for 66 attempts, then PT was #2 on the list. At least the saints dropped 32 on your GREAT defense. Enjoy Nola next year, and take notes on our southern hospitality.

  51. jgreiner9 says: Jan 24, 2012 8:56 AM

    Take him out of the game injury wise or mentally? There’s a big difference there. When they were putting hits on him where exactly were the hits to his head? If they were out to give him a concussion they didn’t do a great job of it plain and simple. What I came away from the article was if we (as in the giants) put a hard hit on him, it could potentially throw him off his game and essentially take a big part of San Fran’s game plan out of the picture. I sincerely believe your grasping at straws thinking they’d blatantly come out and say they wanted to give him something as serious as a concussion. These guys arent James harrison.

  52. jgreiner9 says: Jan 24, 2012 8:59 AM

    Thank you east96st I was saying the same thing!

  53. 49erstim says: Jan 24, 2012 9:13 AM

    @east96st:
    I never said they did it. I was merely commenting on the fact that they said it was their plan. I love my team too and I know that you wanna rep for your team, but thats just wrong. It IS a physical game and injuries DO happen. I just dont want to read about guys intentionally wanting to harm others. “Hitting you so hard you dont WANT to get up” is one thing and “hitting you so you CAN’T get up” is another.

    Again though congrats on the hard fought and deserved win. Im not trying to detract from that, Im merely commenting on the article.

  54. nflofficeadmin says: Jan 24, 2012 10:07 AM

    Just win baby

  55. kingcarlbanks says: Jan 24, 2012 10:11 AM

    If you were a boxer and your opponent had a glass jaw, woudnt you target it? Guess not becuase obviously that would be morally wrong…

  56. east96st says: Jan 24, 2012 10:26 AM

    @east96st:
    “I never said they did it. I was merely commenting on the fact that they said it was their plan.”

    Look, you’re hurting. I get that. I would be upset if my team’s KR killed the Giants chance to go to the Super Bowl. But you need to be logical. If it was “their plan” to head shot him, they would have. You have two guys who probably are not bright enough to realize how what they said came across. The Giants are not known for, nor has any player been suspended for, taking a head shot. That’s a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down. That’s the kind of penalty that gets you kicked off a Coughlin coached team. I’m sure the Giants were told to hit Williams hard because he has been hurt. That’s how football is played. You know SF was trying to take Eli out of the game in the second half and they almost did. I am reasonably confident that no one on the 9ers wanted him maimed. They just wanted David Carr behind center. I’m sure NE will try to take Eli out, too. But I am also sure that the Giants were told to NOT go for the head because of the penalty. We all knew the game would probably come down to field goal. We all knew the weather would be bad. SF has one of the best kickers in the game right now. Do you really think the Giants coaching staff wanted SF to start at the 50 because of a head shot penalty on the special teams? One first down and you’re in Akers range! The evidence is right there in the game tapes. They did NOT go for Williams head. They did try to hit him hard and they did try – and succeeded – in getting him rattled. That’s football. That’s how it’s played. Nothing “dirty” or “underhanded” about it. They had numerous attempts to head shot Williams IF that was what they were trying to do. They didn’t. End of story. Your team played a hard fought game that could have EASILY gone your way. It didn’t. But let’s not take an unfortunate statement by guys who are going to their first Super Bowl and are NOT Harvard grads at face value when the game tells the REAL story. They hit him hard – yes. They did NOT hit him dirty. Your team hit hard, too. I suspect, in a few days when the sting of the loss wears off a little, you’ll realize that you WANT your team to hit hard. It’s what almost put them in the Super Bowl and may put them in there in the near future.

  57. cleverbob says: Jan 24, 2012 10:28 AM

    mi6agent says:
    Jan 24, 2012 1:17 AM

    Lawrence Taylor used to pay call girls and sent them to the other team hotel before the game.
    =====================================

    At least that’s what he to tell the judge. “They weren’t for me…”

  58. jcf78 says: Jan 24, 2012 10:46 AM

    Classless on the giants, great that’s the type of team we have to see in the super bowl! Dirty, what do you expect from freakin new Yorkers, they think their s**t don’t stink!!! At least when other teams players speak s**t don’t come out of their mouths. Ex this schmuck and Brandon Jacobs

  59. bozosforall says: Jan 24, 2012 10:48 AM

    mh28102 says:
    Jan 23, 2012 10:30 PM
    classless by the giants

    __
    The Pats would do the same thing. No doubt about that.

  60. jerseyshoregiant says: Jan 24, 2012 11:50 AM

    Interestingly enough neither of them said they had to go after his head, only that they needed to put some hits on him to get him out. Hitting another player hard is what you always try to do. Hit him hard and legal to rattle him and get him out of the game.
    You can go back and watch the entire game and you will not find one “head hunting” moment.

  61. olcap says: Jan 24, 2012 12:08 PM

    Causing intentional bodily harm is illegal. These guys admit that they targeted him to give him a concussion. Beside being illegal, they are admitting that, to get an upper hand in a ball game, they intended to cause the guy to have many health problems for the rest of his life.

    They are the most unsportsmanlike players ever, not just in what they did, but in bragging about post fact.

  62. 49erstim says: Jan 24, 2012 12:18 PM

    @east96st:
    Completely understand what your saying and I do see that they couldve been speaking about taking him out mentally. Youre right they couldve worded it better. Good luck in 2 weeks dude. I will be rooting for NY against NE. However, the “sting” of the loss is gone man. Its all about perspective. We had too many holes this year. If we were gonna get taken out it was gonna be to a team like NY. An offense that causes our D fits and a D that gets pressure and wreaks havoc on the short “west coast” routes.

    @jackntorres:
    When I see a defender go down to tackle and hit and THEN the ball carrier goes down to absorb said hit I then naturally conclude that he was not going for a knock out blow. You constantly make reference to “hospitality”. Ive never once treated a fan of an opposing team horribly. As far as Im concerned we have more in COMMON than not in common. Ive been to plenty of away 9er games and there are always that small percent of so called “fans” that are just horrible human beings. These are the people that will call you every name in the book just because youre wearing an opposing teams jersey. Then there are the fans that will give you an appropriate amount of jibber jabber which Im always comfortable returning. Ive had some great experiences at stadiums while having horrible experiences on the very same day. Stop lumping all fans together just to make your point. It comes across as an amateur attempt at getting attention. BTW I live closer than you think to New Orleans and I may indeed take your advice about attending a game there. Ive never had the opportunity to do so. Hope I get received as a fellow football fan like you say.

  63. cmb79 says: Jan 24, 2012 1:22 PM

    What’s the upside of publicizing this? I have no doubt that stuff like targeting injuries is actually mentioned in team meeting rooms all across the league. But players have to realize that saying this is not something the league wants a spotlight on. I’m not pleased at all to hear this.

  64. steelersnlakers says: Jan 24, 2012 2:23 PM

    Ending a guy’s career is one thing, but to make a statement about it to the press? How stupid are these guys?

  65. commitment2excrement says: Jan 24, 2012 3:33 PM

    Who else who watched the game seen Giants players trying to slap TE Delanie Walker’s facemask after a tackle? (This was his first game back from a broken jaw sustained 2-3 weeks ago)

    Pretty lame the NY Giants had to resort to tactics like this

  66. nygnyy28 says: Jan 24, 2012 6:41 PM

    I think you are taking it out of context many players take advantage of a hurt player like quarterbacks take a advantage of a hurt corner or safety or when linebackers take advantage of a hurting quarterback it’s a apart of the game I did not interpret what the giants were saying that they wanted to give Williams another concussion they knew he was liable on the field and we all seen the result of the goat if you want to blame someone blame harbough for not taking him out of the game and following proper protocols!!!

  67. kingcarlbanks says: Jan 24, 2012 11:09 PM

    @jcf78

    Real classy. Bet the closest youve come to New York was a postcard from your wife when she left you. New Yorkers are just like everyone one. We all hate a#%holes like you.

  68. kingcarlbanks says: Jan 24, 2012 11:10 PM

    @jcf78

    Real classy. Bet the closest youve come to New York was a postcard from your wife when she left you. New Yorkers are just like everyone else. We all hate a#%holes like you.

  69. steelerdynasty2010 says: Jan 25, 2012 8:28 AM

    @east96st
    i’d hardly call a sentence a lecture, but whatever. yes, i’ll comment because i’ve never hit anyone in the head nor been suspended for it. just because 2 people who play for my hometown team have been suspended and/or fined doesnt make it the “core philosophy” of the team’s defense, nor does it mean or imply that i would agree with or endorse it if it were. there has been someone from virtually every team that has been fined for a h2h hit, and it wouldnt surprise me to find multiple players on any given team so you can believe that our players are the only ones if you want, we’ve heard it all.
    perhaps you dont read so well, but i dont know how you could not see they were targeting his head. what you target and what you actually hit can be different. and he was obviously alluding to an instance where it happened (or at least he thought it did) when he said “Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up.” i suppose he meant he hit him real hard in the arm and he got up dazed…..tell tattoo and mr. roarke we said hi next time you go back to the island buddy.

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