Football may be a game of inches, but it is also a game of extreme violence.
In what was a frightening end to practice today for the San Francisco 49ers, as rookie linebacker Donavin Newsom collided with safety Chanceller James in a terrible hit that left Newsom on the ground for a long period of time, before being taken off the field in an ambulance. Newsom and James were going for a ball thrown by quarterback C.J. Beathard and intended for tight end Blake Bell.
“It always puts things in perspective when you see that happen,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “You know, it’s scary down there any time you’ve got a guy on the ground that long…The encouraging part that I can say his eyes were open. He did have feeling in his lower half and with his hands, so that’s the encouraging part about it.”
The 49ers confirmed this afternoon that Newsom did not suffer any cervical spine fractures, but he does have a concussion. Considering how it could have gone, this is very good news.
“Everyone knows the deal, what these guys do risk in the game, and you hope for the best,” said Shanahan. “…I think it will be all right, but you never know…I know the guys are praying for him.”
Thank goodness it is all right for the most part.
Understandably, James was visibly shaken up and looked very distraught as practice ended, but as everyone knows, this is the difficult part of football and no one is to blame.
“Obviously, you don’t want to feel responsible, but it’s not [James’] fault,” said quarterback Brian Hoyer. “It’s football. They’re both going for the football and it was an unfortunate event…It’s not like he’s trying to go take out a receiver and knocked that guy out. He took his own guy out. It wasn’t anything that was dirty or uncalled for, it’s just two guys going and playing football. Unfortunately, in our sport, things like that, they happen sometimes.”
Safety Eric Reid agreed with Hoyer and made sure to tell James the same thing.
“Me and a bunch of the other guys ran after him, because we saw that he was taking it tough,” said Reid. “…You expect that…In football or in any other part of life, you hurt somebody, we all have a conscience, you feel terrible about it. We told him just to keep his head up, make sure he checks on Donovan, keep praying about him, but not to blame himself, because that stuff happens when you play this game.”
Newsom had returned to practice yesterday after being out Friday and Saturday with a neck injury.
“I can’t have any more respect than I do for NFL players, college players, people who play the game,” said Shanahan.”
Today is a good reminder that football is a game that we love. For us, it is a game, but for the players, it is work and it is dangerous and it is scary. So next time you want to call a guy “garbage” or “trash” because he fumbled the ball or missed a tackle, please remember all that. Our thoughts and prayers are with Donavin Newsom and his family. Go Niners.