Willie Lanier Talks About Tackling

The New York Times has a good column in Saturday’s edition by William C. Rhoden about the NFL controversy of the week, with the helmet to helmet contact and vicious hitting by defensive players.

Rhoden spent some time talking with Chiefs and Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Lanier about the old days. Long-time Chiefs fans will remember that Lanier wore a specially made helmet over most of his career that provided him some extra protection. This came after a situation in his rookie season when he was knocked out when his head hit the knee of a running back, causing a concussion.

“I recognized that it was a concussion,” Lanier was quoted as saying. “I didn’t say anything about it at the time. I didn’t fall to the ground, and I didn’t have any pain.”

The next Sunday, Lanier collapsed in the huddle during a game against Houston. “I was out for two hours,” said Lanier, who later learned that paramedics lost his pulse three times between Municipal Stadium and the hospital.

Without coaching from Hank Stram and his staff, sanctions from the league or alterations of the rules, Lanier changed his way of tackling. He stopped going head first and instead, tackled with his chest and shoulders, wrapping up the guy with the ball in a bear hug.

“There is no way I could have survived if I had not changed my style of play,” said Lanier, who never suffered another concussion.

Lanier also changed his thinking on the field when it came to contact.

Here’s the link to the column for all the details. It’s worth your time

One Response to “Willie Lanier Talks About Tackling”

  • October 24, 2010  - Merwin says:

    If I recall right, Willie later stated he was having double vision just before he passed out. They don’t call him one of the smartest middle linebackers for nothing. GO CHIEFS!

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