Lanier tells players to obey tackling rule

Lanier tells players to obey tackling rule

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Story courtesy of USA Today

Every year professional football is evaluated to see how the game can be made safer for players. For Gold Jacket Willie Lanier it’s simple, obey the tackling rule.

Lanier’s bottom-line message beyond the health risk, is that skeptical players can indeed take their heads out of the game. After all, that’s exactly what he accomplished in compiling a resume that includes eight all-pro selections, a Super Bowl IV crown, recognition on the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team and a jersey, No. 63, retired by the Chiefs.

After he collapsed on the field, suffering what was believed to be a concussion, Lanier was back for the next game. It wasn’t until two weeks later, with vertical double vision so severe that he grasped at air thinking he was tackling San Diego quarterback John Hadl in the open field, Lanier told Miller he was determined to get to the bottom of his issues. Granted, this was during an era when little was known about how to diagnose and treat head injuries. He wound up at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where his condition was diagnosed.

“Undetected subdural hematoma is … a brain bleed that can kill you,” Lanier said. “A brain bleed doesn’t necessarily show itself at the time it occurs.”

Lanier believes the injury occurred when he caught a knee in the head during a routine tackle, rather than with a huge, knockout blow. The double vision, which Lanier said was caused by damage to an optic nerve, was the symptom that made the difference.

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