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Frostburg State football player pressured back on field after blows to the head dies
At lunch, Derek, usually one to joke with complete strangers, didn’t seem to be himself, one unidentified teammate said in the lawsuit. Other teammates teased him about the lingering forehead bruise.
That afternoon, the bleeding resumed. Another bandage.
No concussion checks were performed. Both times, Derek returned to practice.
“That was the culture that was created by the coaching staff,” Mr. Eyring says. “That was glorious. He’s going to lay it all down for his team. Well, that kind of mentality, rather than looking at safety first, is what ultimately led to his death.”
The chances were running out.
The thought of watching video from the final practice makes Sheelys recoil. After Derek collapsed, Frostburg State coaches told the parents that they identified one play on the video where his head appeared to snap back like whiplash. The parents believed it.
That play isn’t apparent in video of the practice, obtained from the university through a public records request, that runs 14 minutes, 34 seconds. The Drill isn’t included. Neither is Derek’s collapse. Just fuzzy players, numbers barely legible, completing drill after drill as clouds roll through and whistles tweet and coaches bark instruction.
Frostburg State’s general counsel says the camera was turned off between plays, that no more video exists.
After breakfast, The Drill resumed. So did the bleeding from Derek’s forehead.
The anonymous email describes Derek as woozy after one repetition as the linebacker. Former receiver Nick Nowaczyk remembers the blood on Derek’s face.
A fourth bandage from Mr. Sweitzer. A fourth return to practice.
During a full-speed 7-on-7 exercise, the lawsuit says, Derek told Mr. Schumacher that he had a “headache” and “didn’t feel right.” Derek never acknowledged pain. Mr. Rogish and other coaches stood within earshot. In response, Mr. Schumacher reportedly shouted: “Stop your bitching and moaning and quit acting like a pussy and get back out there, Sheely!”
Minutes later, Derek collided with a defensive back while running a fly route.
“Just a little tap,” Mr. Buchanan says. “He got up, took his helmet off, sat down. You never sat down during practice. He started stretching and that was it. That was it. It was terrible.”
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