If there was a moment that provided any hope at all in the disturbing aftermath of Minnesota Viking lineman Korey Stringer's death, it came when teammate Randy Moss put his head down and cried.
He and fellow wide receiver Cris Carter and Viking Coach Dennis Green held a news conference. They couldn't provide the medical details of how workouts in the summer heat caused Stringer's body to shut down. They didn't want to discuss the circumstances that led to the tragedy. They were there to talk, a task that in Moss' case proved too difficult.
As he tried to describe his now-realized fears that Stringer would leave his 3-year-old son behind, as he recalled Stringer meeting his wife and child in the family lounge after games, he started bawling.
What was good about it? Because it was so contrary to the football code book. Football players aren't supposed to break down and cry. They aren't supposed to display emotion or show any sign of weakness. That's part of the code.
The code needs to change. Elite players should not feel the need to prove themselves by continuing to run drills in ridiculous heat. It should be OK to stop. Because these pointless deaths need to stop.
An oft-repeated number in recent days was that 18 high school and college football players have died of heat-related causes since 1995.
You wonder if the number would be lower if players felt free to say they couldn't go anymore, if they felt they wouldn't be letting their coaches and teammates down by asking out.
Part of it is the mentality.
We've made progress since 1954, when Bear Bryant took his Texas A&M team to a town called Junction, Texas, for 10 tortuous days when players weren't even allowed water on demand.
Stand on the sidelines of an NFL or college game, see and hear the collisions up close and you'll know the hitting is fierce.
But no one thinks of training camp drills as lethal. Maybe we need to. And not think any worse of players who say they're too hot to continue, so we won't have to see players crying over fallen teammates.
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