- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001


The sweat poured off Marco Coleman yesterday as he came off the Washington Redskins practice field after nearly two hours of practice under the hot sun and 90-degree temperatures.

He was thinking about Korey Stringer. How could you not?

"I think it was on everyone's mind out there today," the Redskins' defensive end said. "You couldn't help but think about it out there."

No, you couldn't.

The death of Minnesota Vikings tackle Stringer yesterday from heat stroke was likely felt in all NFL camps with every drop of sweat that fell and every sip of water that was taken.

When you saw the tent at one end of the practice field stacked with 40 five-gallon bottles of water, you thought of Korey Stringer and how what was in those bottles was suddenly so important.

When a worker drove a cart filled with those bottles to the field to hook up to a portable water cart, you thought of Korey Stringer and wondered how he could have thrown up not once but at least three times during Tuesday morning's practice without anyone calling attention to it not even Stringer himself.

When Marty Schottenheimer shouted the words, "Water break!" at one point during the afternoon practice, you thought of Korey Stringer and how his organs shut down, one by one, throughout the day Tuesday after he collapsed in the morning until he was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m. yesterday.

It was particularly prominent at Carlisle because Camp Marty has not been like Club Norv. The new coach has worked some of these players harder than

they have been in years and clearly has relished the impression that he is running a hard-nosed training camp. Fans love to know that the high-priced athletes they pay to see are being worked so hard.

It's football until somebody dies. Then it's life and death, and we don't think of that when we figure in the cost of a ticket.

"We had a moment of silence this morning and said a prayer for him," said tackle Chris Samuels, who is a big man at 305 pounds 30 pounds less than Stringer. "Marty was telling us, 'You need to watch your diet and put plenty of fluids in, because it's hot out here.' He said you really need to watch yourself and take care of your body."

Players were watching one another a little closer yesterday. "I think the training staff was definitely more conscious of it," Coleman said. "When something like that happens, you can't help but take extra precautions, because you don't want that to happen in your camp. I think there was, and there should be, a conscious effort to get people to increase fluids. I really hate it that something like this has to happen for that to be the case. They were already making the effort here to have water breaks to make sure we had enough fluids, and I think there were already plans today to have extra fluids because it was going to be a little warmer. I think our training staff has already done a great job of making sure to prevent guys from overheating."

It wasn't always that way at Carlisle. Trainer Bubba Tyer, who has seen it all in his 31 years with the Redskins, recalled the George Allen days when you wouldn't see one drop of water on the field except for what fell off the players bodies.

"We couldn't have water on the field," Tyer said. "They used to slip out of one of the buildings near the sidelines with ice in a towel and hand it to the guys on the sideline. One time [linebacker] Chris Hanburger ripped an ice pack off a guy's shoulder. He said, 'Hey, I need this worse than you need this,' and he drank the water out of the ice pack."

That's how it was 30 years ago, when they gave salt tablets to high school football players instead of water.

Tyer said Schottenheimer is vigilant about trying to make sure his players don't fall over the edge. "Coach Schottenheimer, he's the best I've been around," Tyer said. "He's really attuned to the heat and hydration, and he really sets the tone… . We are so much smarter about the way we train now, and we do a much better job and still, unfortunately, something like this can occur."

That may be shocking, but not surprising. Even with all of the vigilance and knowledge, the name of the game is still to push the body to extremes. The winners are the ones who work the hardest who, when their bodies are telling them to quit, push even harder. A quitter never wins and a winner never quits, right?

Players who weigh 335 pounds are allowed to practice with a heat index of 110 degrees, and after throwing up not once, not twice but three times, are still allowed on the field. It's no different than sending a boxer back out for another round after he has taken a severe beating.

There were some snickers when LaVar Arrington didn't practice Tuesday because he was dehydrated. People remembered how the linebacker reported to Club Norv after his holdout in less than playing condition last season, and it seemed amusing that he was sitting out after just one day of Camp Marty.

No one was laughing yesterday.

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