Sunday, November 17, 2019

ruminations on how to address Alabama's super star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa being knocked out for the season by Mississippi State defenders

Around dawn today, I dreamed of my Uncle Leo Bashinsky's wife, Betty. In the dream, I had written something that I tossed toward her, and it fell onto a red hot fire pit between us. It could have landed elsewhere, but it landed on the fire pit. Betty said something wasn't spelled correctly, and I said he had changed the spelling himself, and if she did not accept what I had tossed to her, then she would never see or hear from me again. She said she preferred Gandhi's way.

I meant my Uncle Leo's Polish grandfather, Leopold, who had changed the spelling of his last name somewhat after he came to America at age 15, to strike out on his own. He changed the spelling to make it easier for Americans to spell and pronounce. It was said of Leopold that the people in the south Alabama town where he had lived brought their disputes to him, instead of to the town lawyers, because they believed he would be fair to all sides. He did it pro bono.

I woke up, thinking Gandhi's way was to become the light you wish to see in the world, and non-violence, which pretty well summed up Leopold, who reminded me of St. Francis of Assisi, whose prayer was:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life


I had memorialized Leopold in  A FEW REMARKABLE PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN: "He Was a Noble Creation." On his gravestone his widow, my great grandmother Bashinsky, had engraved: "God's noblest creation is an honest Man."

I also memorialized Leopold's grandson, my Uncle Leo, my Aunt Betty's husband 

Here's a link to that  book at this blog: 

I named the title of Leo's chapter, "He Called a Spade a Spade". There was far more to that pediatrician and healer than speaking straight, but that was his way. He ruffled plenty of feathers, and was loved by many.

I gathered from the dream that my Aunt Betty didn't care for, or was trying to steer me away from, writing like Leo might speak or write.

I gathered Aunt Betty wanted me to go the way of Francis, Gandhi and Leopold. 

Yet, Francis was put into the fire pit, from which he eventually emerged an entirely new person. And, Gandhi was fire-tested, and then he was assassinated.

Leopold was fire-tested when he left Poland at age 15, and by being the only Jew in the south Alabama town where he eventually settled and met his future Southern Baptist wife and daughter of a Confederate officer.  

I hoped yesterday that I had completed writing a new book about what can happen to people who step onto the spiritual path, having no clue what might lie in store for them. The book is filled with baptism in spirit and fire stories. My question when I turned in last night, was whether to cut out some of the fire stories, or leave the book as is? 

Was Betty telling me to take out a lot of the fire stories? 

Was Betty trying to tell me to view differently what happened in the Alabama-Mississippi State football game yesterday?

All the juice I have left today is for that game.

Led by its super star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa , Alabama took command, 35-7, with about 2 minutes left in the first half. Alabama's back up quarterback, Mac Jones, was warming up on the sideline. I thought that was very good idea. 

Mac had played the entire game against Arkansas the week before, and had done very well. I had hoped Coach Nick Saban would let Mac play the entire Alabama-LSU game the week before that, because Tua was still recovering from surgery to repair an a high-sprain right ankle injury he had received in the Alabama-Tennessee game. 

Tua played the entire LSU game, which LSU won 46-41. In that game. Tua did not seem fully recovered from his injury. Nor did he seem fully recovered in the Mississippi State game.

The TV sports commentaors said Tua would sit out the rest of the Mississippi State game, even as I watched Tua and Coach Nick Saban talking and smiling on the sidelines. Tua went back into the game. 

On the first play, Tua, in the shotgun position, received the snap from center and started looking for an open receiver, as several Mississippi State defenders broke through Alabama's pass defense and Tua turned and retreated left and back. Two State defenders caught and tackled Tua from behind. He went down hard on his right knee and his face mask hit the dirt and his helmet was knocked off. Tua looked hurt. It looked serious. 

I was furious Coach Saban had put Tua back into the game. I think my Uncle Leo would have been furious, too, if he were still in this life.

The link below is to an article containing a video of that disastrous play, which went viral on the Internet.

When the Alabama trainers reached Tua, he was in great distress. He was a while standing with the help of two trainers. He could not put weight on his right leg with his arms resting around the neck and shoulders of the two trainers. Tua was gently put onto a motorized stretcher and driven to the locker room, and then was helicoptered to a Birmingham hospital, which diagnosed a dislocated right hip and posterior wall fracture. 

Tua was announced out for the season. His career might be over. 

I thought the same. 

In later news reports, the Alabama team's orthopedic surgeon said Tua would make a full recovery. 

I hoped so.

The surgeon was an across-the-street childhood friend of my older daughter, whose husband is Mississippi State's Athletic Director.

Tua tweeted, God has a plan. 

I hoped so. Maybe part of the plan was to send a very loud message via a much more serious injury to Tua's right leg than the sprained ankle? And, as a friend said this morning, maybe now Tua will have time to fully recover from the right ankle injury and the right hip dislocation fracture.

Saban said during a game time media interview after Tua was carted off the field, that Tua wanted to keep playing, and they wanted him to practice a two-minute drill. 


As if the game was a scrimmage at the Alabama practice field in Tuscaloosa, where quarterbacks wear black jerseys and are not fair game for hard tackles? 


As if Mississippi State was Alabama's practice squad? 

A two-minute drill is used at the end of the first half to try to make a quick score before time runs out. Or, or with time running out at the end of the second half, when a team is behind and a quick score will win the game, or tie the game and put it into overtime. 

A two-minute drill involves running quick pass plays to the sidelines, to reduce the risk of interception and stop the clock if the pass is incomplete, or is completed and the runner goes out of bounds. 

The play in which Tua was knocked out for the season did not look to me like a quick pass play to a sideline.

Here again is a link to the article, which contains a video of that play:

God does have a plan, but what is it? Time will tell.

I had thought Tua would go into the NFL draft next year, instead of playing his senior year at Alabama. Mac Jones, or Tua's younger brother, or someone one else, would be Alabama's quarterback. If Tua heals and comes back, how does that affect the other quarterbacks? Will Mac put his name in the college football transfer portal, like Jalen Hurts did last year? This year, Jalen is a super star quarterback on the Oklahoma football team.

Meanwhile, a piercing "fake news" New York Times article takes no prisoners.

Tua Tagovailoa Was Injured Again. Should He Have Been Playing?

The Alabama quarterback and top N.F.L. prospect was carted off the field with a hip injury against Mississippi State. His team was up big at the time.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said he did not think quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s injury was related to his right ankle injury earlier this season.Credit...Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

By Billy Witz               

The lasting image of Tua Tagovailoa in an Alabama uniform may be this: his face bleeding, his body curled up on the cart that carried him off the field after an injury left him in excruciating pain.

That was the scene on Saturday in Starkville, Miss., after Tagovailoa, the star Alabama quarterback, crumpled to the turf after two Mississippi State players chased him down late in the first half of a 38-7 Crimson Tide victory.

A towel over his head muffled his screams from a dislocated hip, which will end his season, likely providing one bookend moment to a sterling college career. The other came two years ago when he came off the bench as a freshman at halftime of the national championship game and carried Alabama to a thrilling comeback win over Georgia with an audacious walk-off touchdown pass.

The Alabama team doctor, Lyle Cain, said in a statement Saturday night that further tests would guide the treatment, but that Tagovailoa should make a full recovery. But the injury was serious enough that Tagovailoa was transported to a Birmingham hospital by helicopter. Afterward, Coach Nick Saban told reporters: “Godspeed to him and his entire family, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and hope this isn’t so serious that it has any long-term effect on his future as a player.”

And there is the crux of the conversation: What of Tagovailoa’s future?

He might have been the top pick in the N.F.L. draft, an athletic left-hander with impeccable accuracy, a strong arm and consistently astute decisions. Tying those qualities together was a magnetic presence — part toughness, part charm — that could make him a franchise quarterback.

But as the severity of Tagovailoa’s injury becomes clear, the questions will turn to why Tagovailoa was playing at all.

"He was screaming in pain as medical training staff had to pick him up and carry him off the cart." @MollyAMcGrath said the first report is that Tua Tagovailoa suffered an injury to his right hip vs. Mississippi State.

It is a calculus that is increasingly necessary these days in college, where money rains on everyone but the players. Tagovailoa underwent ankle surgery last month and seemed primed to sign a pro contract in April with at least $25 million guaranteed.

If Tagovailoa, a junior who could choose to return next year, had been playing in the N.F.L., he would at least have been compensated for the games he was playing. And he also would have an agent, who might have ensured that Tagovailoa received an independent opinion from doctors about his ankle injury, and an evaluation of his recovery from the related surgery from trainers who weren’t on a team’s payroll.

But who was advising Tagovailoa on whether to play?

The cutting-edge ankle surgery he received was designed in part to speed up his recovery from a sprained right ankle. Tagovailoa had the same surgery last year on his other ankle and returned three weeks later with an outstanding playoff semifinal performance over Oklahoma.

Even before his recent surgery, Tagovailoa told teammates that he would be back against Louisiana State, a battle between unbeaten teams, the winner all but assuring itself one of the four College Football Playoff spots.

Indeed he returned, though Tagovailoa shied away from running with the ball and played with a slight limp as the game wore on. And the limited practiced seemed to show: He lost a fumble, threw an interception and couldn’t bring Alabama all the way back in a 46-41 loss.

Afterward, Saban called him a warrior.

A similar scenario played out this week. Backup Mac Jones got most of the work in practice, and leading up to game time there was uncertainty over whether Tagovailoa would start. But there he was in the lineup, and by the time he was injured, just before halftime, he had Alabama well ahead.

Saban, who said he largely left the decision to play against L.S.U. up to Tagovailoa, called Saturday’s injury a freak occurrence and said Tagovailoa moved well in a pregame workout, perhaps better than he had the week before.

“We can second-guess ourselves all we want,” Saban said.

There will be plenty of that. Saban can earn $800,000 in bonuses if Alabama wins the national championship. There is no such incentive for Tagovailoa. Or any of college football’s stars. Ohio State defensive lineman Nick Bosa had abdominal surgery in September 2018 and prepared for the draft rather than try to return to the Buckeyes. Other players who are top N.F.L. prospects now routinely skip bowl games that are not part of the playoff.

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