Bounty-Gate Victim #StoryTimeWithEarl

Playing football is a brutal sport. There is no doubt about it. That’s what makes it football. The gridiron, where warriors done equipment to battle out for who’s the best. Unfortunately, injuries happen frequently. A brutal injury I faced happened week two against the New Orleans Saints in 2011. QB #1 would always tell me to be careful, because how I played the game made me a target. I never thought twice about that comment until after the play that could have possibly cost me my life. 

The second drive of the game we began to click. RB #1 had a 42-yard run that would put us in excellent field position. Four plays later we align for a passing play. I scout the coverage and notice they are blitzing. I have the hot route, which was a one-step slant across the middle. Everyone in America knew that was the hot route because Mike Martz refused to change it over the years. So, the Saints knew when they blitzed middle linebacker and nickel, I would run the one-step slant route. 

So, I run the predicted route. Barreling down on me was Roman Harper, a big hitter. I have taken some hits in my days, but there was something different about this hit. QB #1 throws the slant, I catch it and BAM! A hard collision that left me on the ground gasping for air. I tried to get up because I am the player who never likes to look vulnerable. I tried and was unsuccessful. The medical staff ran on the field as I tried to catch my breath. They asked what is wrong, my response was only a gasp.  Finally, I was able to breathe and walked off the field by myself. 

They took me to get X-rayed to make sure there were no broken bones. The X-ray was clean, and I returned to the field. The Saints had scored a field goal so now it was time for the kickoff return. I was the lead blocker, so I went out. As I began to run, something did not feel right. There was this feeling like when you drink too much water, and you can feel it moving around. Except, I had nothing to drink. I returned to the sideline and told the medical staff that something felt loose, and that I was sure there’s something internally wrong. They responded that at half-time, I would have to provide a urine sample.  

As I am providing the sample, I clearly see there is blood in the urine. The medical staff told me that we need to leave immediately for the hospital. The doctor who rode to the hospital with me looked at his watch 19 times. I counted because he was worried about making the flight back. We arrived at the hospital where I was skipped to the front (although a guy was there for a gunshot wound which made me more worried), and they took an ultrasound. The doctor returned and stated that I had a lacerated liver. I thought I’d be back on the field in a week at the maximum, but the doctor assured me it would take at least six weeks to heal. 

My family was in a frenzy looking for me at hospitals because I had to stay overnight as a plane ride could have been fatal. They tried every hospital in the Big Easy. For my safety, I was John Doe, although a friend of mine who is higher up in New Orleans Government found me within 10 minutes. The injury was described as a “chest injury” to protect me in future games.

That hit makes me wonder how much was my bounty? If it was a decent amount, I can respect that.


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Earl B. Bennett

About Earl B. Bennett

Earl B. Bennett is a retired NFL Wide Receiver who played six seasons with the Chicago Bears.