Libonati: For one beat writer, watching Eric Dungey play has become cringe-worthy

first_img Published on November 6, 2016 at 11:13 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ Another video of Dungey getting hit against Pittsburgh last season is simply titled, “Eric Dungey Dead?” Pitt linebacker Nicholas Grigsby laid out Dungey with a helmet-to-helmet collision. The quarterback lay on the ground, motionless.“I took a pretty big hit, but I was good and just ready to get back out there,” Dungey said at the time. “Just had to take a second to make sure everything was working.” The last of Dungey’s prior trio of hits came against Louisville. Down 30 points, then-head coach Scott Shafer left his quarterback in despite the blowout. Scrambling downfield, another helmet-to-helmet hit knocked Dungey out of the game. A Syracuse.com story confirmed Dungey had concussions after the hits in last year’s Central Michigan and Louisville games.Six years ago, as a sophomore in high school, a fullback buried his helmet into the ear hole of my helmet. I remember lying on my back staring up at the sky as a warm feeling spread on the side of my head. I touched my finger to my ear because it felt as if blood had dripped out, though there was none there. Then, I got up and ran to the sideline. My coaches said I looked woozy, so I sat out the rest of the game.That night, my mother tried talking me out of playing football again, something I refused. Spencerport (New York) High School’s concussion protocol required a certain number of symptom-free days, too many to allow me to play in the next game. In that week, I took an ImPACT test to gauge my cognitive function after the concussion. I scored higher with the concussion than I scored on the baseline test taken in August without a concussion.Daily Orange File PhotoI came back in two weeks. At the time, I played center and called a few different checks at the line. Multiple times, I made mistakes on assignments I typically didn’t make mistakes on. During the game, I realized I probably still had lingering effects from a concussion.Bodies react differently. College players are bigger, faster and stronger. It’s hard to imagine a helmet-to-helmet hit from a borderline professional football player that left Dungey dizzy and unable to stand immediately would cause anything less than a concussion. Physics seems to lean that way.Eleven players and trainers circled around Dungey. I’m not sure what’s scarier — the scene being the biggest that’s congregated around the quarterback after an injury or that the scene has become so familiar.Familiarity has bred a greater tolerance for the violence. Fans keep expecting Dungey to get up after each hit because he hasn’t yet been unable to.But I fear a time when he can’t.Chris Libonati is an Asst. Sports Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at cjlibona@syr.edu or @ChrisLibonati. Comments Eric Dungey plunging through a hole at the line of scrimmage Saturday made me ask myself, Why is he running there? Running close to the tackle box almost guaranteed Dungey would get hit, and the hole materialized between tight end Cameron MacPherson and left tackle Cody Conway.That was just before Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel lowered the crown of his helmet to meet Dungey’s shoulder and subsequently his helmet. It’s not particularly anyone’s fault: The way a play materializes can’t be anticipated ahead of time. Dungey lay on the ground after the hit, hardly moving other than to bring his hands to his helmet and try to lift his head. He looked woozy as two trainers propped him up on his walk to the sideline and then to the locker room.Escaping talk about helmet-to-helmet hits has become harder. Two weeks ago, Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry launched at Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams, knocking him out for the season. The Bills placed Williams on injured reserve and the safety’s father said he’d have to consider his future in football, per the Associated Press. Last week, Bills receiver Brandon Tate left after this hit. Saturday, when O’Daniel decked Dungey, I recoiled. For the fourth time in Dungey’s SU career, an opponent blasted him with a high hit.The more hits I watch, the more cringe-worthy watching football becomes. There are few players more cringe-worthy to watch than Dungey. It wasn’t just hard to watch for just the Clemson game, either. It’s been difficult for two years. Every time Dungey runs, fans have to wait with bated breath. That’s not an indictment of him as a player or person — it’s simply hard to watch the violence and quantity with which he gets hit. And on a small scale, I empathize with him.Three times last year, defenders flattened Dungey. After Syracuse’s game against Central Michigan, in which defensive end Mitch Stanitzek hit Dungey after the latter had thrown the ball, the ACC made a video called “Injury Alert: Syracuse QB Eric Dungey.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textlast_img

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