Monday, November 9, 2009

A Horrifying Scene

If you saw Jahvid Best's aerobatic act in the Cal-Oregon State football game, you'll never forget it.

Best's 7-yard touchdown run ended with a vault toward the end zone. For a moment, it looked like one of the most remarkable plays ever. Best was so high in the air, it seemed he might just take flight and stay aloft.

But then he crashed. Hard. And for a brief moment, the TV cameras captured the blank stare on his face and it was obvious that something was very wrong.

Here's a simple rule: when the guys wearing fire department turnout coats are running toward you, that's not a good thing. Best was quickly surrounded by Berkeley Fire Department crews, Cal athletic trainers, and his family. The crowd in the stadium and the TV audience couldn't see enough to know his condition, but it didn't look good.

Eventually, Best was wheeled off on a stretcher, his head immobilized, his body draped in a white blanket; his face obscured by an oxygen mask.

Frightening, and sobering.

For Best's young teammates and opponents, a vivid reminder of what can happen when you play the violent game of football. But also, for those young men and all of us, a reminder that everything can change in an instant. Literally: one moment you're flying, and the next, your future is uncertain.

It turns out Best did not suffer the spinal damage we all feared. He did sustain the mother of all concussions, but was released from the hospital after an overnight stay. We can all hope the best medical minds are watching him carefully and will make darned sure his brain is healthy before he ever steps on a football field again.

And perhaps we can reflect on that stunning moment when we rose to cheer his feat of daring and athleticism--just before fear punched us all in the gut.

No comments: