The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

August 14, 2013

Newcastle mother champions effort to make high school football safer



Many sports writers, at least once, have seen a player return to a game after appearing to suffer a concussion.

As a young sports writer covering a high school game, I once witnessed a player fall while jogging off the field for no apparent reason, get up after a beat or two and shuffle gingerly off the field, seemingly unnoticed by officials or coaches, though not teammates. Two quarters later, I saw that player return to the game.

Heck, the Sooner Nation watched Eduardo Najera return to an NCAA tournament game after a head-to-head collision with Michigan State’s Mateen Cleaves in 1999. You can watch it on YouTube: Najera completely out, lying face down on the floor immobile in the second half. Then you can watch Najera watch from the locker room, return to the game and, if you remember it well, you can hear Billy Packer telling everybody on TV how tough Najera was.

He was tough.

Reckless, too.

I haven’t been writing sports forever and Najera was knocked out only 14 years ago. Clearly, it’s taken a long time for folks to come to understand the seriousness of concussions.

Davis deserves all kinds of credit for thinking beyond her own child after, as she told the Daily Oklahoman’s Jenny Carlson, she knew something was wrong when her son, then an eighth grader, told her he “couldn’t remember how to do math.” 

It was a conversation, Carlson reported, that took place not only after Davis’ son’s concussion appeared to be light — he never lost consciousness — but also days after it appeared clear he was recovering in fine form.

Of course, a mother’s love for her son and concern for others like her son is not so shocking. What might be a surprise is an entire school district rallying to the cause to do something revolutionarily serious about concussions.

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