The most terrifying part of the news stories about Josh Williford's concussion sustained in practice on Thursday is not that he was unconscious for five minutes. No, the scary part is the usual inclusion of some variation of the statement, "his career may be over."
Williford missed half of the 2012 season with a concussion. He works hard to make it back with the team, and as soon as fall camp opens, he suffers an injury so severe that he is unconscious for five minutes, and we can only state that the injury "could" be career threatening?
Look, I was looking forward to having him back on the team. We all wanted some senior experience on the offensive line, which will rely heavily on talented but young players. Tiger fans expected him to be, if not a starter, at the very least a key cog of the offensive line.
But I hope to God that Williford never plays another down of college football.
Football is violent game. While some sports are contact sports, football is collision sport. Injuries are a part of the game, and we all accept the danger as part of the deal. No one likes to see a guy break his arm or blow out a knee, but those are not the kind of injuries which will prevent a former player from living a happy and fulfilling life.
This is different. I want Williford to remember his playing days at LSU. I want him to bore his kids with stories about running through the tunnel and touching the Win Bar on his way into Tiger Stadium. I want him to lead a long and successful life off the field. The mere thought that he could jeopardize his future, or that anyone affiliated with LSU would let him, scares the heck out of me.
This is not the kind of injury that gets better with a little rehab. All one concussion does is make you more susceptible to future concussions, which Thursday's practice proved. Josh Williford has a long future ahead of him, and it's one that would be markedly worse if he goes out and risks another concussion.
There should be no "may" in the statement. This is not a career-threatening injury, this is a career ender. Williford should be able to run out with the team on Senior Day and receive the cheers of the crowd one last time, but he shouldn't ever play in another game and risk future injury.
This is no time to think about the depth chart or how this affects the team's running game. The only concern should be Williford's future health and safety. There's a time to hang up the cleats, and that time has now come for him. It's sad, and I'm a sure he wants to play. Kids often think they are invincible, despite all evidence to the contrary.
But it's time for Les Miles and his staff to step in and thank Williford for all he has done for the program, but there's no way they are going to risk a serious brain injury to win a few football games. Williford has a long life ahead of him, it's up to the coaches and staff to make sure he's able to live it.
This story should not be that the injury "could be" career ending. It needs to be that it is the end. Williford is a great Tiger, but we want him to be able remember the good old days.