Sunday, September 10, 2006
Green conscious after leaving game on stretcher
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As Trent Green lay motionless on the turf at Arrowhead Stadium, more than 77,000 fans sat motionless in their seats.
Although Green suffered "pretty severe head trauma," preliminary X-rays of his head and neck were negative.
His feet were not moving, nor were his hands. It was tough to tell if the popular quarterback, who for five years had been so indestructible, was even breathing.
From the moment Cincinnati's Robert Geathers unleashed a brutal hit until word came that the quarterback had regained consciousness, little was said at the Bengals-Chiefs game Sunday.
"You just start praying," backup quarterback Damon Huard said. "You think about him, his family and his health."
Chiefs GM Carl Peterson said Green had "pretty severe head trauma" but regained all his senses and feeling in his arms and legs.
"Actually," Peterson said after the 23-10 Bengals win, "when he did wake up he remembered every play except the one that knocked him out."
Peterson said Green was taken to a hospital but preliminary X-rays on his head and neck came back negative.
"His family, including his wife, Julie, is with him and we're going to be cautiously optimistic that he's going to be back," Peterson said. "But he's certainly got a headache right now."
The blow came late in the third quarter as Green attempted a feet-first hook-slide. Geathers charged in and appeared to hit Green's head or chest with his shoulder, snapping his head back hard into the turf.
The shot caused even Geathers to pause. He stood on the Cincinnati sideline when play resumed 11 minutes later, re-entering the game a few plays later.
"It's an unfortunate situation and my prayers go out to his family and him and I hope he recovers," Geathers said. "We were just playing ball, flying around, and I know he understands that. He's played a long time."
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said later that he thought Kansas City wide receiver Eddie Kennison pushed Geathers into Green, who was trying to slide for safety after scrambling on a broken play near the Chiefs' sideline.
No penalty was called on the play, and while Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said it looked like a helmet-to-helmet shot from his vantage point a few yards away, he had been advised not to comment on the officials' call.
"I'm not going into 'He said' or what they should have done," Edwards said.
The hit was viewed as a cheap shot by many in the Kansas City locker room, including defensive end Tamba Hali, who said referee Larry Nemmers told him no penalty was called because Gathers was airborne and unable to stop himself.
"This league is supposed to protect the quarterback," said Hali, shaking his head. "The comment from the ref was he was in the air. You can't have helmet-to-helmet because you can't control yourself in the air. But at least a call should have been made."
Kennison sat in front of his locker after the game and attempted to rationalize Green's loss as just another injury in a game that is full of them.
But even he realized that a quarterback who had started 81 consecutive games and was the consummate team leader will be difficult to replace -- if that becomes necessary.
"Whenever you lose any one of your teammates, it's a huge loss. He's a man before anything and we don't want anybody to get hurt," Kennison said. "He might have a headache or something for a couple days. But if I know Trent Green, he'll probably be ready next week."
Green was only 11-of-15 passing for 90 yards when he went out, but his departure appeared to deflate a Kansas City offense that for years Green had made into one of the league's. The Chiefs managed only 289 yards in the game, allowed seven sacks and had three turnovers.
"You lose someone you care about, it's going to affect you in a bad way," guard Brian Waters said. "Our job was to get back in the game mentally. You understand the game's not over and you have to keep playing.
"We still didn't make enough plays. We still didn't do a good enough job blocking up front. We just didn't do a good enough job stopping them, period," he said.