The New England Patriots say it is a basic football play, "in everyone's playbook from high school to college to the pros," said assistant general manager Jim Valek.
The Oakland Raiders disagree.
"We haven't had that play in our playbook for years," said a Raider spokesman. It's too dangerous.
"The play" is a slant in and a collision with Raider safety Jack Tatum on the play has left wide receiver Darryl Stingley of the Patriots partially paralyzed with a broken neck.His football career is almost certainly over and there is concern that 26 year old Stingley may never walk again.
Stingley sustained the injury in a National Football League pre season game with the Raiders Saturday night in Oakland.
Stingley was operated on Sunday and is in Eden Hospital in Castro Valley. Calif., suffering from "some degree of paralysis."
Dr. Maynard Pont, the neurosurgeon who performed the one-hour operation on Stingley would not make any predictions about Stingley's future other than to say that Stingley "has some motion of the right arm and sensation to a limited degree over the enure body."
Pont said Stingley sustained "a fractured dislocation of the cervical spine and initially had no movement or sensation below the neck."
Pont added that during the operation, he placed cervical traction tongs in the area of the injury "to correct the dislocation.
The Raiders are one of the hardest hitting teams in the NFL and have been accused of being excessive in their physical play.
But Stingley's collision with Tatum was not an illegal play.
Both sides call it unfortunate - the ultimate hazard in running a slant pattern.
With 1:26 left in the second quarter, and the Patriots on the Raiders' 24-yard line, New England quarterback Steve Grogan split wide receiver Stingley about seven yards out to his right.
Stingley's pattern called for him to angle across the field about 14 yards deep, going full speed, looking for an open spot. Grogan was to throw to the open spot.
But Grogan's pass led Stingley too far, and as Stingley stretched out to try and reach it, Tatum, going for the ball from the opposite direction, crashed into Stingley's head with his helmet and shoulder pads.
Stingley crashed limply to the turf and did not move.
Doctors worked over him for 10 minutes and then took him to the hospital.
Pont said that although Stingley suffered some paralysis immediately after the injury, he was awake and alert.
Tatum said, "We just sort of hit head to head. When he went down there was no question that it was serious. He never moved . . . never."
A slant pattern such as the one Stingley was running is dangerous because the receiver is cutting across the field blindly, looking for nothing but the ball.
Twelve yards down the middle of the field is the heart of any defense. Linebackers and safeties are laying in wait for an unsuspecting receiver to come cruising through.
The receiver is unable to protect himself while going for the ball, and is at the defender's mercy.
"It was unfortunate," said Valek, "but unless you are just standing there out of bounds, every play in football has people going in opposite directions."