Written by Joe Kleinsasser Tuesday, 16 September 2008 15:08
Football is rife with injuries. We’re not surprised, because the older players get, the faster, bigger and stronger they are. Many collisions are violent. Rarely is a game played at the collegiate and professional level without at least one injury timeout.
However, it’s not often that you hear of a hit that was life-changing and possibly life-saving. And yet, that seems to be the case for Dylan Witschen, a high school freshman football player in Anoka, Minn.
As reported by the Anoka County Union, Witschen was practicing with the freshman football team when, from his safety position, he delivered a blow on a running back. Roughly 20 minutes later, Witschen, now practicing at the quarterback position, experienced some numbness in his throwing hand.
He thought he might have a stinger, a common football injury to nerves that causes a sudden, sharp pain and tingling down to the fingers. But he also was feeling slightly dizzy.
The team trainer evaluated Witschen and suggested that he go to the hospital to determine if he had sustained a concussion.
As soon as Witschen got to the locker room, his world went black as he suffered a seizure.
Witschen was transferred to a hospital where a CAT scan revealed a mass in his brain. Further testing at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital confirmed the worst—the mass in his brain was a cancerous tumor.
Neurosurgeons removed a golf-ball-sized tumor the next day. His recovery from surgery was remarkable. Within 24 hours he was able to walk the hall.
Witschen was removed from intensive care a day after his surgery and two days later he was discharged.
The whole episode came as a complete surprise. Witschen had passed his pre-football physical examination. He went through a summer training program to prepare him for the football season. He appeared to be a healthy 5-foot-7, 145-pound teenager.
Of course, Witschen’s future is still fraught with uncertainty. He is undergoing six weeks of radiation therapy and one year of chemotherapy. Although he can’t play football this fall, he plans to return as a team manager.
Witschen’s family is thankful for the big hit he put on that running back in practice—the one that apparently set in motion the chain of events that ultimately revealed the malignant tumor growing in his brain. Without the collision, it might have been months later before the tumor was discovered. And by that time, it could have spread.
Dylan said, “I thank God (the collision) happened.”
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Did you know helmets were not mandatory in pro football until 1944?
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In 1978, New York Giants fans were so distraught over their team’s poor play that they gathered in the parking lot after a Sunday afternoon game and built a bonfire with their season tickets. Chiefs fans may want to do the same during this season.
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Steve Spurrier, former University of Florida football coach, telling Gator fans that a fire at Auburn’s football dorm had destroyed 20 books: “But the real tragedy was that 15 hadn’t been colored yet.”
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As John Madden says, “If you see a defensive line with a lot of dirt on their backs, they’ve had a bad day.”
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Did you hear about the coach that was marching on the field alongside the band? A majorette threw her baton in the air and then dropped it. A fan yelled, “Hey, I see you coach the band, too.”
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You know that your coaching job is in trouble when the marching band forms a noose at halftime.