By Jonathan Okanes
Sunday, November 8th, 2009 at 9:53 pm in Last game tidbits.
Questions and answers on a Sunday night are usually focused on the previous night’s game and what lies ahead in the coming week. But today the subject matter was understandably limited to just one topic — Jahvid Best.
It continues to be good news for Best, who was wheeled off the field on a stretcher after suffering a severe concussion during Cal’s 31-14 loss to Oregon State on Saturday. Best spent the night at Highland General Hospital for observation and was released today. All of the CT scans and x-rays he took came back normal, and he was discharged and left with his parents to go back to their home in Vallejo.
Best definitely won’t play Saturday against No. 18 Arizona. After that, nobody knows. Best will be closely evaluated by team medical personnel on an ongoing basis, but as of right now, there is no target date for his return.
“He’s sore, but we’re all thankful there’s no severe damage and he’s going to recover just fine,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “We’re very thankful it turned out as well as it did, because it was a very dangerous situation, a very dangerous fall.”
Tedford and running backs coach Ron Gould visited Best in the hospital Saturday night. Tedford said Best was groggy because of the pain medication he was under and he had a headache, but he was able to carry on a conversation with no problem.
Tedford also talked with Best by phone today, and said he was “just fine, communicating, seemed to be much more alert.” Teammates Shane Vereen and Brian Holley exchanged text messages with Best today and said Best reassured them that he was doing well.
“He just said, ‘I’m doing good. I feel a lot better this morning.’ That was about it,” Vereen said. “That was very reassuring. I kept replaying it in my head, so it was good to hear from him. You always want that little extra confirmation from him that he’s OK. So we were able to get that.”
Although Best won’t practice anytime soon, Tedford said he expects Best to visit the team as soon as he feels better. “I know the guys are excited to see him and can’t wait to see him,” Tedford said. “That’s what I told him on the phone tonight, and he told me to tell everybody hello.”:
Tedford said when he visited Best last night, Best actually recalled much of what happened on the play in which he was injured. He hadn’t seen a replay of it yet, but did see it today.
One of the first things that struck me about the play that injured Best was how it symbolized his persona as a player. Not only is Best supremely talented, but he plays with intense determination. The touchdown run came at the end of a laborius drive where the Bears were struggling to punch it into the end zone. You just got the feeling Best wasn’t going to be denied a score.
“We’ve seen it time and time again, the things he does on a football field,” Tedford said. “The way he’ll sell out to make a play. I don’t think he ever saw the guy who pushed him. He was going for the end zone, no question.”
–Tedford reflected personally about what the situation was like for him, from watching as Best lie motionless on the field and then through the night and into today.
“We have a responsibility to these players. We love our players,” Tedford said. “To see them in harm’s way in any way, shape or form is always concering. Yeah, you lose a game, but anytime somebody gets potentially seriously injured, it really puts everything into perspective. That’s a kid’s life and a career, things like that. It was very scary at the time. It makes you feel blessed everything worked out fine.
“I was very concerned for him standing there with him. I was trying to comfort him when he came to — that’s a scary situation when you come to and there’s all the people around him. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know where we were, I was so focused on how he was doing. The game at that point really took a backseat. Then when I was comfortable he was OK, I saw the team back there and went to them, made sure they had a good feeling he was OK, he was moving and everything. I know that gave them a sense of relief because they were very concerned.”
–Tedford said he received a text message from Washington coach Steve Sarkisian today. “He saw the play and was hoping Jahvid was OK,” Tedford said.
Holley provided an interesting perspective on Best’s injury because the fifth-year senior is working on a thesis on cognitive dysfunction of football players. He’s spent a lot of time studying concussions and the effects of them.
“It’s a dangerous thing,” Holley said. “You don’t only have to worry about immediate, short-term impairment, you have to worry about long-term impairment, too.”
Holley said based on his research, there are 160 concussions in the NFL every year, and probably much more that go unreported. “It kind of reminds you how lucky you are to play and how close it is to ending,” he said.
Holley said he didn’t watch as much football highlights on TV after the game last night because the clip of Best’s injury kept coming up. “It was harder to watch SportsCenter,” Holley said. “I watched it once and then tried not to watch it again. It was pretty bad. I had the best view in the house when it happened.”
Redshirt freshman Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, who will now be the No. 2 running back behind Vereen, said Gould didn’t show the end of Best’s run when the team broke down film today. “He just showed him jumping and how the guy pushed him, but he didn’t show him land at all,” DeBoskie-Johnson said. “When I saw it on youtube, I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ It almost made me want to cry. He looked like he was about to go through a seizure or something.”
DeBoskie-Johnson said trainers and fans in the stands were in tears as Best was attended to on the field. “He has an impact on everybody,” he said. “Jahvid is a good guy. He’s not conceited. He’s not boastful. He’s a real humble (guy). He always encourages us. That’s something I really like about Jahvid. Him going down like that, everyone was said.”