Anyone Else Starting to Think Braxton Miller Might Be Having Concussion Issues?

It might be time to start legitimately asking the above question about Ohio State’s Braxton Miller. Miller left this weekend’s game against Minnesota after his helmet made pretty forceful contact with the playing surface during the course of a tackle. It’s the second time that’s happened in his playing career. Combine that with another incident where a head-to-head blow sent Miller’s helmet flying off and the QB-turned-reciver could have something between a proto-pattern and an actual problem.

The first incident occurred against Purdue in 2012, when Miller, then the starting QB, suffered the following injury.

He left the game and did not return. Kenny Guiton came in and guided the Buckeyes to an overtime win. Here’s the postgame wire report of the above incident1:

“Miller didn’t get up for several minutes — he was in obvious pain — while he was attended by several doctors and trainers. Eventually he sat up, then stood on shaky legs for a moment before he was led to the sidelines. He was later taken to the locker room by cart and then on to Ohio State’s medical center for evaluation.

Team spokesman Jerry Emig said doctors had run tests on Miller’s head, neck, shoulders and knees and there were no symptoms of a concussion or other obvious injury. Through Emig, [head coach Urban] Meyer said, ‘He’s doing fine.’”

Miller returned to team practices the following week.

The following season, this happened to Miller against San Diego State.

Notice that Miller takes near-simultaneous hits to opposite sides of his helmet (play the video to the end as the replay offers a much clearer angle on what happens). His helmet pops off and, when he’s on the ground, he almost immediately puts his hands to the sides of his head. After the trainers arrive and speak with Miller, about 25 seconds elapse before anyone pays any attention to Miller’s lower body. That seems relevant because, after the game, Meyer said that Miller had a knee sprain and would be evaluated. The university later said that Miller had a sprained MCL. He missed the two following games against Cal and Florida A&M, returning in time for the start of the Big 10 season when OSU hosted a ranked Wisconsin team (the SDSU game was on on Sept 7, 2013; Miller was back playing Sept 28).

By the way when an athlete shreds an ACL or an MCL, they often reach for the spot on their body where the injury occurred. Those ligaments are not located inside of the skull. Here’s Jamaal Charles’ reaction to his tearing his ACL a few weeks ago.

This past weekend, Miller, having now converted from quarterback to playing wide out, was injured on this play in the fourth quarter against Minnesota (sorry, couldn’t find embed code; the relevant play starts about 1:10 into the video)

You can see Miller’s helmet bounce off the turf when he is brought down. He is subsequently being helped to the sidelines by training staff. At the post game press conference, head coach Urban Meyer said the following: “I think he’ll be all right. I just talked to him… think he just got the wind knocked out of him or dinged a little bit.”

Since 2012, there have been three instances where Braxton Miller has had to leave a football game after either receiving a blow to the head or having his head bounce off the turf—all three hits happened on the artificial surface at Ohio Stadium. Now, in the San Diego State game, it is entirely possible that Miller indeed hurt his knee, but he still clearly took a hit (two actually) to the helmet. I mean, the thing literally came flying off his head from the force of the impact.

For all we don’t know about concussions, one of the things we do know is that once you have one, you are more susceptible to having another. Because of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Ohio State doesn’t have to disclose injury information regarding students. So we really have no reliable information on what actually happened to Miller. And I have no idea if there is any law stipulating that, if they do comment on an injury, it has to be accurate. And frankly I’m not sure Ohio State football has any obligation to honest with random sports fans at all. But I do hope that the adults Braxton Miller has put his trust in are being honest with him.

1 The following Tweets went out during and after the game:

2 It depends on the situation and there are legitimate cases where there is some confusion over whether it’s covered under FERPA or HIPAA.

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