Earlier in the month of August, an incident on the NFL team Carolina Panthers’ training ground got the Sports streets in a frenzy. In a cringe worthy moment two players’ lives changed for the worse. During a practice session, wide receiver Keith Kirkwood was hit in the neck region by a hit by safety JT Ibe. The hit was an illegal one from behind The hit was so savage it belonged in the WWE ring as it resembled a pro wrestling move than a Football tackle. This resulted in Keith being stretchered off after receiving medical attention on the field and later got diagnosed with a concussion. As a side bar, lets say you are in a similar situation what would you do to help Keith? Well stabilize the neck, if a neck brace isn’t available it means using to PADDING LIKE TOWELS OR SHEETS to avoid moving the head. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOVE THE VICTIM UNTIL EMERGENCY SERVICES ARRIVE as there is possibility of spinal injury which might be aggravated if victim is moved in a careless manner. If victim is not breathing begin CPR ASAP. Back to the story Keith was taken to hospital and luckily he had feeling in his hands and extremities when he was evacuated to a medical facility.
Now here is where I do not get the Carolina Panthers. Shortly after the incident they sacked Ibe saying such a hit is not acceptable even if it is practice. I will call it as I see it, the Panthers are WRONG here. First of all emotions generated by the negative publicity can cloud sound judgement. In competitive sports it is easy to get a tackle or a hit wrong, it is the speed at which the game is played whether it is American Football or Soccer. Things always look bad in slow motion. In practice especially in team sports, there is competition for places and that can contribute to some tackles going out of hand. In talking to most athletes it is almost always UNINTENTIONAL, except maybe if there is prior animosity between the two players. I doubt there was between Ibe and Keith given that Ibe visited Keith in hospital afterwards and apologized. Now I am not excusing the Hit here, it was bad and the player deserves reprimand. But ending a promising career(there is no way any side will touch Ibe with such negative publicity) on the back of one mistake smacks of hypocrisy to me. The fact that Kirkwood had an injury record did not do Ibe any favors too, Keith last season broke his collarbone and missed a lot of games.
Lastly the Panther could have taken a leaf from the Son Heung-min and Andre Gomes incident two seasons ago. Andre Gomes suffered what could have been a career ending ankle injury when Spurs went to Goodison Park. Son received support from both sides and never was he told his career was over because of that One incident.