Blog Entry

Questions for Ole Miss

Posted on: February 20, 2010 9:31 am
Edited on: February 22, 2010 12:09 am
We are supposed to be beyond this point. Another player dead with some pointed questions waiting to be asked.

Ole Miss walk-on Benny Abram collapsed and died shortly after workouts on Friday. Before an autopsy is conducted I can tell you this death looks suspiciously like it was caused by sickle cell trait. He was young, he died early in workouts after collapsing according to early reports. I've written about it many times over the past year. The trait was the leading cause of death of college football players in the last decade.

The NCAA now formally endorses testing for the trait which costs between $5-$30 per athlete. There is no reason a player can't play with the condition -- if he is diagnosed and treated properly. Those with sickle cell trait must gradually ease into drills when they begin. That's why you see so many players collapse and/or within the first few hours or days of conditioning or practice.

Just last month, the NCAA officially confirmed that Western Carolina player Ja'Quayvin Smalls was the eighth player in the last decade to die from "exertional sickling".

Breaking it down, from 2000-2009 in the NCAA...

Twenty-one players died.

Twenty of the 21 died a non-traumatic death (not by blow to the body).

Eight were due to exertional sickling, six due to cardiac-related matters, five due to heat stroke and one due to asthma.

Sixteen of the 20 died in conditioning activity. The other four came without two days of preseason practice.

Fifteen of the 20 were Division I football players.

Fourteen of the 15 died in strength and conditioning activities.

Ten of the 15 were Division I-A players.

All eight exertional sickling deaths occured in Division I.

What this continues to tell me is that major-college players are needlessly dying because of easily detected and treatable conditions. My God, a kid died of asthma?

Questions for Ole Miss:

Was Abram tested for sickle cell trait?

If so, was he and his parents notified of the results?

If so, were trainers and coaches educated on how to deal with a player who has the trait?

If not, why not? Also, if the school does not test from sickle cell trait doesn't it have to consider starting a testing program?

What drills were being done?

Did Abram complain of discomfort before collapsing?

Unfortunately for everyone, this story is just beginning. Expect the lawyers to swoop in and Ole Miss officials to posture. The Central Florida case involving Erick Plancher is two years old and is just entering the depositional stage. Plancher's parents have just hired a high-powered lawyer specializing in these cases to help in a wrongful death lawsuit.

I'm not damning Ole Miss, yet. I am willing to bet, a lot, that Abram's death was caused by sickle cell trait. Either way, where it goes from here is going to be tragic to watch.



Since: Mar 27, 2009
Posted on: February 22, 2010 2:06 pm

Questions for Ole Miss

I have no problem with the article, as long as Mr Dodd files the appropriate follow up if his speculation is determined to be incorrect.  I would like to expect a similar "headline" story titled Answers from Ole Miss where Mr. Dodd would apologize for the conclusions that he has jumped to.  Instead, I expect we would see either no mention of the incident again or, at best, a one sentence blub in the bottom of an article on an unrelated topic. 

There is no accountability in the media profession these days.  Instead of waiting to publish an article once you have all of the facts, just jump to any conclusion you want quickly (as long as you say it's your opinion).  If it gets readers, who cares.  Unfortunately, this article is what 70% of the readers will remember about this story; they will make the same assumptions that Dodd has made: the school, the conference, the NCAA is at fault.  They will never follow up again and will move to the next story of the day.  If (notice the if) Dodd is wrong, most will still keep this as their opinion of the story.

Thoughts and prayers for the family.

Since: Mar 20, 2007
Posted on: February 21, 2010 7:49 pm

Questions for Ole Miss

Kids and computers just don't mix.  Threatening violence over a comment board.  Let's just say not a winner...

Since: Mar 20, 2007
Posted on: February 21, 2010 7:46 pm

Questions for Ole Miss

I too love the SEC and hate Ole Miss, but you are definetly putting words into Dodd's mouth.  None of what you accuse him of comes out in this article.  It sounds as though it is actually you with an axe to grind.  A kid is dead, he is advocating keeping kids from dying, and you rambling on about perceived slights of a FOOTBALL conference.  Nice priorities.

Since: Mar 16, 2009
Posted on: February 21, 2010 12:18 pm

Questions for everyone who he every played for

Mr. Dodd, more information for you I thought I would share.  I am a 7th and 8th grade basketball coach state law requires all players who play interscholastic sports get a physical and those have to be on file with the school.  It was difficult because two players who wanted to play for me were not allowed to play because they could not get those physicals before the deadline for final rosters to be submitted to my league officials.  Now my guess is that this young man has had full physicals throughout his playing career.  If he had said trait he has never shown up.  Ryan Clark for the Steelers did not have this show up until he went to Denver.  Again I think you are having an agenda and will you man up and apologize if wrong. 

Since: Nov 9, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2010 10:53 am

Questions for Ole Miss

 nailed it!

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2010 10:10 am

Questions for Ole Miss

Death is a high possibilty with this condition, i dont see why anyone would be surprised another player died...Trait does not have a high probability of death.  In a study looking at Army recruits over a 5 year period there were 37,600 who had sickle cell trait and 12 deaths.  It's not a trivial risk if you're the one with the problem, but that's only a .03% chance of dying with heavy physical exertion, or a 99.7% chance that nothing will happen, if you're the optimistic type.

Since: Dec 9, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2010 9:29 am

Questions for Ole Miss

I have no doubt that Dennis Dodd has lived a life of perfection and has never been involved in any type of tragedy.  Although, it is a lot easier for him since he is only responsible for his laptop and himself.  I have no doubts the Ole Miss football staff did everything within reason to ensure the safety of their players and walk-ons are treated with the same respect as the scholarship players.  Without a doubt they will support this young man's family to the fullest and it is something that will effect them forever.  First, Chucky Mullins, Tony Fein and now this.  It is just terrible!  Barring some clear neglect this is just a tragedy, just started to work-out during the first spring drill.  Did Dennis ever think that the young man may have know of some type of risk and decided to play anyway?  Of course all players playing football, even if perfectly healthy, should know there is risk.  Recently, Tigs Barksdale, sat out a year because of a health concern and he is a former Mr. Football in the state of Mississippi.  Ole Miss would not risk a player's life.  I agree as long as things like this happen, questions should be asked and processes improved in protecting the players.  And I can guarantee you that the Ole Miss staff will do just that and that Dennis Dodd does not have the answers.  Because he has the answers to nothing but how to be a loser.

Since: Nov 2, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2010 1:09 am

Questions for Ole Miss

Let's just not allow any black player with the trait to play... Oh wait, they'd sue for that too... Death is a high possibilty with this condition, i dont see why anyone would be surprised another player died... I'd even go out on a limb and say there will be at least 2 more before 2011...

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: February 20, 2010 10:52 pm

Questions for Ole Miss

I'm more skeptical about this being related to sickle trait.  Generally, exercise related death in those with trait is due to dehydration, which would be difficult on a 57 degree day unless there were inadequate hydration breaks.  Just as likely statistically would be a cardiac etiology.  Either way this is tragic, but I don't see how fault can be legally assigned to the school.  It was probably a kid trying to push himself harder to impress a new coach, making this that much more tragic.  Hopefully this will inch recognition of the role of sickle cell trait in exercise related deaths further along and prevent other tragedies in the future.

Since: Feb 20, 2010
Posted on: February 20, 2010 10:49 pm

Questions for Ole Miss

You wanna give me a call? Or would you rather hide behind your computer? Just let me know ma'am.

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