Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Terrible Tragedy

The National Football League lost another player this past weekend. Only minutes after playing in a preseason game in Denver, Thomas Herrion an offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers collapsed near his locker. He was rushed to the hospital and was later pronounced dead at the young age of 23.

After performing an autopsy on Sunday, the coroner's office in Denver said no cause of death could be determined until toxicology tests were performed. Those tests usually take about three to five weeks.

This tragic death came a little more than four years after Minnesota Vikings All-Pro offensive lineman Korey Stringer died of heatstroke following a tough practice that was held in the hot low 90s. Saturday night in Denver it was in the mid-60s and not very humid. What happened only brings us back to the same question…are NFL football players getting too big to remain healthy?

Herrion was listed in the 49ers media guide as 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds – an average size for NFL linemen. Rumor has it that although Herrion was listed at 310, teammates say he was more like 340-350. But if you saw a man like him walking down the street the first thing you’d think of is “obesity”.

Although obesity right now can’t be blamed for Herrion’s death experts are saying it could have been a major contributor. How can’t it be? Most of the NFL’s offensive and defensive linemen are way too big and put a tremendous amount of strain on their hearts. If you look at the roster of a dozen or so teams you’ll notice that most teams have an average offensive line weight of 310+ pounds, which is far too much. And how many of those teams really list players at their true weight?

Teams need to make sure that players who are in the 300-pound range are closely monitored. If a guy is 325 pounds one year and puts on another twenty pounds – you really need to ask yourself what is that twenty pounds going to do for the player’s performance…and will it put added stress on their body? Teams also need to look deeply into the family history of such players. It’s been said in the last few days that Thomas Herrion’s family has had a deep history of heart problems. This should be looked at and he should be a player that should’ve been monitored a little more closely.

Herrion, a former Utah captain was a first-year player with the 49ers, after spending part of last season on the 49ers and Dallas Cowboys practice squads. He also played this past season in NFL Europe for the Hamburg Sea Devils. Playing his college ball at Utah he was comfortable playing in high altitude, like Denver, that can intensify dehydration.

This is just a terrible tragedy. 23-years old is too young…especially when you’re doing something that you love and trying to be a model citizen in this world.


At 8/23/2005 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gregg you bring up a really valid point about how heavy these players really are. If he was 340-350 last year then he was probably around that weight this year. I'm 6 foot 3 and I only weigh 180 lbs. This guy was almost double me.

At 8/23/2005 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sad, awful. All indications are that this kid was a great person and a catergorically good human being. I cannot imagine being in that locker room when it happend, or being Alex Smith who was the teammate of Team Captain Herrion. I think kids, athletes, people are naturally bigger, stronger and taller (especailly earlier) then the last generations. We are maturing faster and further. We lift and train earlier and more effectively, be it with legal/illegal enhancers, or just with time and dedication. That said, I do beliene that there are lots of sloppy, unhealthy fat slobs in the NFL. I also believe they do it as a result of needs of the game, either directly or indirectly expressed by coaches/mgmt. So the answer is fat percentage. Monitor and mandate levels, hold teams accountable, get the players union involved, test like they do for drugs. Suspensions for blatant disregard, "flag" offenders and hold them to more strict testing. There are 320lb lineman that are jacked and more healthy then much of their opposition.

At 8/23/2005 10:39 AM, Anonymous J-Bird said...

Maybe the NFL and NCAA should institute parameters stating a maximum body fat percentage? However, don't be surprised if it comes out that there was something wrong with his heart - apparently there is a history of heart disease in his family. Poor guy - I feel bad for him and his family.

At 8/23/2005 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad story. They say that health conditions run through Herrion's family. I think you are right, teams should monitor players closely and I like the comment by "Ell" to have the league step in.



Post a Comment

<< Home