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TSN Archives: Tragedy on the Gridiron

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DETROIT, Mich. — The fellows within the metropolis room have an edge on us. They’re used to dealing with tragedy, grief and catastrophe. Even heartbreak.

How do you do it within the sports activities division?

You do it since you attempt to be an expert newspaperman. But it surely isn’t straightforward. It by no means is. That’s as a result of we take care of the enjoyable and video games facet of the enterprise.

Whilst I write this, I’m nonetheless somewhat shaken by what I noticed in Tiger Stadium. I noticed a person die earlier than my eyes. That’s by no means occurred to me earlier than and it left a sick feeling in my abdomen.

I’m talking of Chuck Hughes, the broad receiver of the Lions, who collapsed on the sector close to the top of the sport with the Chicago Bears and was pronounced lifeless about an hour later in Ford Hospital of a coronary thrombosis.

I used to be down on the riverfront the day Chuck Thompson’s hydroplane blew up in entrance of the principle stand, killing him virtually immediately. However I actually didn’t see it occur. All I noticed was the spray of water from the again of his boat after which some items of wooden flying within the air.

I’ve seen a number of auto accidents on TV the place males have died, nevertheless it simply isn’t the identical. I’ve written obituaries of many sports activities figures, a few of whom I knew intimately, and that is by no means straightforward, both. However I used to be not there once they died.

Shaken by Bo’s Coronary heart Assault

The hardest second, till now, was the day of the Rose Bowl sport two years in the past once they instructed us that Bo Schembechler, the Michigan coach, was not with the workforce however was confined to a hospital with “a abdomen dysfunction.”

That despatched a chill by me as a result of if you recognize Bo Schembechler in any respect, you recognize it might have taken a serious tragedy for him to not be on the sidelines together with his workforce. Because the day unfolded, it was found that he had suffered a coronary heart assault. That was in all probability essentially the most troublesome story I’ve ever needed to write.

However now, in a single grim second, I noticed Chuck Hughes fall earlier than my eyes and it was a horrible expertise … since you knew the second they began working over him that one thing was fallacious, one thing terribly fallacious.

What occurred was this:

The Lions have been making an attempt to tug the sport out within the final two minutes. They have been shedding, 28-23, however they began transferring down the sector the way in which you’ve seen so many professional golf equipment do on the finish of a sport.

Hughes Grabbed Cross

Hughes, a second stringer on the Lions, was within the lineup due to an harm to the common broad receiver, Larry Walton. However no one even seen him till quarterback Greg Landry whipped a move over the center and there was Hughes catching it for a 32-yard achieve. Hughes took a terrific smack from Bob Jeter and Garry Lyle, the Chicago defenders, simply after he caught the ball.

He acquired caught in a type of sandwich-type tackles, the place two gamers hit him without delay, however no one thought something of it as a result of Hughes merely acquired up, adjusted his helmet and began again to the huddle.

He had solely three extra performs to dwell.

On the third and one, the Lions desperately making an attempt to attain, Hughes lined up on the proper aspect and took off down the sector. He minimize over towards the objective put up because the move went to Charlie Sanders. It was incomplete.

Hughes turned downfield and began trotting again to the huddle. I used to be watching him. Why, I don’t know.

A Frequent Sight

All of a sudden, as he was nonetheless on the Chicago aspect, he pitched ahead on his face and sprawled out on the grass.

I didn’t assume an excessive amount of of it as a result of I’d seen gamers simply collapse from exhaustion.

Hughes lay there and no one appeared to note him. A number of moments handed. The gamers and coaches on the Lions’ bench couldn’t see him as a result of their view was blocked by the gamers on the sector.

Any person within the press field murmured: “Any person higher get on the market.”

Lastly, Dick Butkus of the Bear wandered over and appeared down at him.

Butkus started waving frantically over to the Lions’ bench and now they got here working towards Hughes — two workforce medical doctors and two trainers.

Conjecture Amongst Writers

They bent over him and started engaged on him. The massive crowd didn’t appear unduly involved. It was a well-recognized scene at a soccer sport: medical males attending a fallen participant.

Any person else within the press field stated: “Possibly he swallowed his tongue.”

That made some sense. That has occurred earlier than. Or possibly he simply had the wind knocked out of him.

However I started to really feel somewhat uneasy. …

Hughes had fallen with no one round him.

The physician together with his again to the press field gave the impression to be leaning very near him. He gave the impression to be giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I felt a chill undergo me. Now the opposite physician started pounding Hughes’ chest, pounding it together with his fist.

It acquired very quiet within the press field. The sport, now, meant nothing. Instantly you feared the worst. I’d by no means seen anybody pound a participant’s chest on the sector. On the way in which down within the elevator everybody appeared to have a look at everybody else with these unusual stares — these clean expressions — once you’ve simply discovered of a tragedy.

Writers Saved Outdoors

We by no means did get contained in the dressing room. They saved the press outdoors whereas the gamers, coaches and officers of the Lions waited inside for phrase from the hospital.

The dangerous news arrived in about an hour. The gamers filed out solemnly, a lot of them with their eyes nonetheless glazed from tears. They’d seen a teammate die earlier than their eyes and no phrases can specific how they will need to have felt.

Chuck Hughes was 28. I didn’t know him effectively, besides that each time I noticed him or spoke to him, he all the time appeared to have a smile on his face, and he was actually one of many friendliest guys on the workforce.

I can’t consider it occurred.

https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/tsn-archives-tragedy-on-the-gridiron/b4qj8b43a1wc1wtigxj7shohm | TSN Archives: Tragedy on the Gridiron

PaulLeBlanc

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