Television fans around the nation saw a frightening sight Sunday when quarterback Tommy Kramer of the Minnesota Vikings suffered a concussion and went into a convulsion during a game against the Los Angeles Rams.
While being tackled by Jim Youngblood as he attempted to pass, Kramer was knocked unconscious. As he lay on the ground, his arms went rigid and his hands became halfclenched as he went into a spasm.
Dr. G. Patrick Lilja of the Hennepin County (Minn.) Medical Center said the quarterback had suffered "a relatively severe concussion with a convulsion." Several tests proved negative. "We don't expect any permanent brain damage andd I don't think there will be any temporary damage," he added. Kramer was released from the hospital yesterday.
Lilja reported that when Kramer regained consciousness on the way to the hospital he asked, "Did I fumble?"
NLF Commissioner Pete Rozelle said he saw the incident on television.
"I obviously was very concerned," he said. "I was most pleased when I learned by telephone that he was not more serious.
"One problem is, I disagree with the television coverage when it lingers on the close-up or semiclose-up of an injury.
"Journalistically, television should show what happens. Fine. But I saw the game telecast and I don't think it should have stayed with it such a long time or an injury can appear to be more serious than it is. The spasm, for instance. That is the reason the stations got calls.
"It is not good for young people, and others, for the camera to sit on it for a minute. It's negative."Everyone is giving thoughts during the season - our competition committee in particular - about rule changes to protect quarterbacks, without changing the whole character of the game. We in the league office will give our recommendations. We cannot make a change in the middle of the season.
"We thought recent changes liberalizing the rules about holding and preventing bumps of receivers going beyond five yards of the line of scrimmage would help the quarterbacks, and they have. Still, we have had a number of quarterbacks injured.
"There has been talk about padding the outside of helmets. That is a simplistic answer that is not valid. As an example, it has been said that a soft outer padding would reduce injuries from blows by helmets.
"Experimentation has shown the opposite. It createes a friction so that a blow which otherwise might glance off a smooth helmet does not with outer padding. And the wearer of the padded helmet would receive more serious neck an spine injuries."
Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), a former San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills quarterback, commented, "I must admit my viewpoint from when I played and after I retired has changed, since my 19-year-old son is a sophomore quarterback at Dartmouth.
"The quarterback position is more susceptible to injury than other position. You're never going to make the game risk-free with big bodies running into one another.
For instance, I have in my office a picture of 6-foot-11 defensive lineman Ernie Ladd coming down on me. I played for 13 years and I don't think you can make pro football risk-free, or baseball either.
"Kramer's injury was horrible. I coudl take my son out of football. I don't want to. I want him to know about getting knocked down and picking himself up. Just so there is a good coach, a good trainer, and a good doctor. I got knocked out 10 or 11 times, but I never had a seizure as Kramer did.
"The NFL will benefit if it looks into every possible rule change and equipment improvement. But it will never make the game risk-free. More people are aware of injuries today from looking at it on television."
Former Redskin coach George Allen said, "I don't think anything has to be done to protect the quarterback. Sacking the quarterback is part of the game. It would take away from the game. It's always going to be that way.
"The real good quarterbacks hold the ball till the last second. They are going to get hit. On television I developed what I call a category called 'delivery sacks.' The camera focuses on quarterbacks being hit and down on the ground. There are about four to six every game, and they add their toll in the third and fourth quarters.
"Other than putting more restructions on defenders I don't know what can be done; we've put so many on them already.There is more emphasis on quarterback injuries. You keep tabs on the other positions - there's just as many, but they don't get the publicity."