Head-Down Contact in Football -JonHeck.Com

Research Articles
Head's Up DVD
News Releases & Articles
'NCAA News' History
Penalty Data
Helmet Contact Penalties
Prevention Tips
Head-Down Home


Video of Kevin Everett's (Buffalo Bills) Head-Down Hit and Comments
By Jon Heck, MS, ATC 9/07

Everett is #85 in the Dark Jersey:

It's A Head-Down Hit
The video is not ideal, but it was the best that I could find. It's clear that Everett lowered his head just before the collision and made contact with the top of his helmet. This is almost always the mechanism of cervical spine injuries in football ... this hit is no exception. It's also not a "helmet to helmet" hit. It's a helmet to shoulder pad hit, with some incidental helmet contact.

Here is something I wrote back in a 1999 article that appeared in American Football Coach

Photo of the Everett Hit

Everett's head is clearly down at the moment of impact. It's also clear this was not a helmet to helmet hit. Notice that the ball-carriers head is also down, another example of how common it is for players to lower their head's at impact.

Sadly, not much has changed in the past 8 years. Although it is only one day after Everett's injury, I have not seen, heard nor read anyone attempting to educate other football players/ coaches/ officials/fans/parents that these injuries are caused by head-down contact. This was much the same case last year when the Cincinatti Bengal's David Pollack fractured his cervical spine during a tackle. I will keep my eyes open, but once again I'm not too optimistic that Everett's injury will be used to help prevent other similar injuries. And as I mention above, that only adds to the tragedy.

The bottom line remains: By keeping the head-up and initiating contact with the shoulder, these injuries can be prevented at every level ... high school, college and even the pros.

Update 9/23/07:
Perhaps things have changed in the past 8 years. There have been quite a few articles out about preventing these injuries and how to make contact correctly. Congrats to these writers for a job well done:

Jonathan Kates: Imperative Players Learn Proper Tackling
Kyle Asplach: Brutal Hits in the NFL this Season Reverberate Locally

Jeff Kidd: Perspective Needed Regarding Risk of Head, Neck Injuries in Football
Mathew Futterman: Football Players Toe the Line Between Hits and Health
Paul Newberry: Heads Up! Tackling the Wrong Way can Lead to Catastrophic Injuries
Alex Marvez: It's Amazing there aren't More Spine Injuries
Drew Bruno: High Schools Working to Prevent Tackling Injuries
Doug Smith: 'See What you Hit' Words to Live by in Promoting Safety
Chris Swinger & Kevin Oklobzija: Everett Injur Offers Lesson

Update 9/13/07:

Kudo's to the following writers for trying to prevent injuries by discussing the dangers of head-down contact and/or correct contact technique:

Berkley Brean: Bill's Injury Impacts Local Teams
Dave Goldbers: The Message is Clear: Keep Your Head Up
Alice Parker and Sean Gregory: Is Football Too Dangerous
Joe Saraceno: Standards help stem catastrophic injuries from dangerous game