On Wednesday at the America’s Center in St. Louis, Rams OT Rodger Saffold joined medical professionals in releasing recommendations to help prevent sudden death in college conditioning sessions.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association spearheaded a task force that is intent on finding a way to change the culture of conditioning workouts in the college football ranks.
Why is this necessary? Since 2000, 21 NCAA football players have died during workouts. 21. Think about that number.
The Rams’ starting left tackle shared a story from his college days at Indiana University that I don’t believe most people know about. Saffold says between his sophomore and junior years he took an energy drink prior to working out and running up bleachers. Immediately following this Saffold says he began to experience chest pains that he thought were just signs of being tired.
Well, Indiana’s athletic trainer came and asked him some questions about what he was feeling before determining Saffold had symptoms that could have led to a heart attack. A cold shower and some relaxation ended up keeping the offensive tackle from anything more serious, but the story is simple. Rams OT Rodger Saffold nearly had a heart attack in college. He says he’s lucky to be a “what if” and not a “what was”.
Attached in the video player above is an interview I did with Saffold at the event. The one question I really wanted to ask him, the most important question in my mind, is the one he really didn’t have an answer to: How does an athlete know when it’s time to back off? In a world where you have to show you’re tough because you’re scared the coach is going to think you’re weak, how do you know when you’re not just tired...you’re something else?
What makes it more complicated is the fact everything is such a mind game. Pain is in your head, remember? No pain, no gain. It’s what makes the difference between having a job and not having a job at times.
That’s why this issue is so hard to fix in college.
See...with the NFL it’s not as much of an issue because the Players’ Association has so many rules to prevent that stuff from occurring. There’s only so many things you can do working out. Plus, veteran players know how to handle their bodies.
In college it’s different. There’s no Players’ Association. No one is 35 years old with decades of experience in this field. It’s 20-something year old’s who are trying to make it in life. And pushing themselves is the only way they know how.
This task force says there needs to be minimum guidelines to prevent sudden death from occurring in college football. And they’re right.
I can give you 21 reasons why.