New York Giants: Operation Concussion


The story of the New York Giants deliberately trying to hurt and perhaps give concussion-prone San Francisco 49ers’ Kyle Williams another concussion to knock him out of last Sunday’s NFC Championship game has been already reported everywhere over the internet and first came to light from New York Mag’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells. But I still wanted to talk about it on GMEN HQ.

In his piece, Wallace-Wells shared a couple of pretty alarming quotes from some Giants who talked about a strategy of targeting Williams, who has suffered numerous concussions in the past…

Jacquian Williams said: “The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing was to take him outta the game.”

Devin Thomas mentioned that Williams has, “had a lot of concussions,” and that the Giants, “were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.'” Thomas also singled out Tyler Sash who, “did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.”

The quotes from Williams and Thomas certainly make it sound like there was a strategic plan in place to eliminate Williams from the game but a couple of Giants have come out to dispute that that was actually the case.

Justin Tuck said, “I don’t think we’ve ever talked about knocking anybody out with concussions or anything like that.” However, he didn’t deny the Giants’ were intent on hitting Williams by saying, “it’s not like we weren’t trying to hit him. We were definitely trying to get a lot of hits on him because he might not have been as comfortable back there as say a Ted Ginn who had been there all year.” But he wouldn’t go as far as to say they were trying to take him out the game as he adamantly denied such a thing: “But as far as trying to knock him out of the football game? No.”

Adding to Tuck’s claims that the Giants weren’t trying to intentionally hurt Williams was Michael Boley, who said the Giants didn’t talk about hurting Williams before the game started and also mentioned that, “concussions are a big deal. Obviously we don’t want to hurt anybody. We’re a fraternity of brothers all across the league. We don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Trying to hurt an opposing player or injure him badly enough that he’s forced to leave the game is a strategy that has been around the NFL, heck, in all sports, since the very beginning and while Boley says he doesn’t want to hurt somebody we all know how brutal the game of football is. But is knowingly playing a game where the intent is to lay a smacking on someone so hard they have to leave the game okay? Especially now in today’s day and age when concussions have become such a serious problem?

The aftermath of retired athletes that suffered head injuries during their playing careers has been pretty gruesome…

Former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson killed himself after putting a bullet in his heart.

Former NHLer Derek Boogard overdosed on drugs and alcohol.

Former WWE superstar Christ Benoit killed his wife and son before committing suicide himself.

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Justin Strzelczyk took police on a wild car chase and then died after he drove his car into a tanker truck.

I could go on and on with more examples of former athletes and their history of brain injuries, particularly the effects from CTE, but I think you get the point.

We, as fans, who obsessively and rabidly observe the game, and players, who take to the fields every week, know what the deal is and that injuries are a part of the game. Some NFL players have even come out and said that they would hide a concussion in order to not be pulled from the game.

I fell in love with the New York Giants because of an interview Michael Strahan did with Maxim magazine back in the day before concussions became widespread, where he stated his intent was to kill the quarterback. The fact of the matter is that if you take out a team’s starter they’re forced to put in the less talented back up and that gives you an advantage.

But targeting a player with a history of concussions is taking it too far. With the information we have now about CTE and brain trauma and what it can lead to those affected by the issue to do to themselves or others around them makes me sick thinking that players will go out of their way to target an opposing player who might be susceptible to suffering a concussion because he’s had them before.

And it’s scary to think that neither Williams nor Thomas were goaded into saying anything about Williams and his concussion problem or that they were specifically targeting him because of it. Their post game comments were casually tossed into the conversation with beat reporters and that makes me wonder how many other NFL teams are specifically targeting opposing players with concussion problems? If there’s an advantage to be had by that strategy surely other teams are doing it too, no?

The NFL has tried their best to make an effort in curbing concussions and have put in place many new safety rules dedicated to diagnosing and treating concussions. They have even gone so far as to tell teams to take players out that may have suffered a concussion during a game and those players aren’t allowed to return to game action or practice until they’re cleared by an independent neurologist. The NFL knows there’s a concussion epidemic and wants to do everything they can in order to prevent concussions or deal with them as they happen.

Who knows if the NFL has done enough but when Williams and Thomas nonchalantly talk about going after a player more likely to suffer a concussion because he has a history of them, in a league that prides itself on its violent nature, we have a problem. And while the actual hits the Giants players put on Williams during the game weren’t illegal, the NFL might want to seriously look into the words uttered by Thomas and Williams about their strategy. The league surely doesn’t want to send an image that players are trying to strategically concuss a player during a time when they are combating the concussion problem in the NFL.

I’m still shocked that something like this happened in the NFL even though I shouldn’t be but I’d still like to think there’s a certain line players and coaches wouldn’t cross and targeting a previously concussed player would be one of them. But I guess I’m naive in that thinking…

How does everyone else feel about this issue?