Heads up: Brandon Hardin’s season-ending tackle provides tough lesson for coaches

On August 18, in a preseason matchup between the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, Bears safety Brandon Hardin tried to tackle Washington tight end Logan Paulsen low on his hip. However, the result wasn't a highlight-worthy play. In spite of his football helmet and safety pads, Hardin sustained a neck injury that could keep him out for the entirety of the regular season.

Dan Pompei, in a column for the Chicago Tribune, pointed out that Hardin made the cardinal error in a football tackle. He put his head down.

Pompei wrote, "Any good mom will tell you football always is going to be a dangerous sport, but any good coach will speak this truth: players can make it a lot safer by using proper form when tackling."

Hardin had an overnight stay in a hospital and was told less than a week later that he had been put on injured reserve for the season. The column reported that Hardin's tackling technique had been noticed by coaches and the defensive line in practices and the team's previous exhibition game. Despite warnings of the technique's danger and illegality, Hardin made the same mistake in the third quarter against the Redskins.

ESPN stated that lowering the head while tackling increases the risk of injury because the top of the head, when impacted, compresses the spinal column. Coaches of players of all ages teach the head-up technique to prevent neck injuries just like Hardin's.

Not only does keeping your head up protect your neck, Pompei said, but it improves your game. Any good offensive player can nimbly avoid a blind tackle to score.

It is important for coaches of young players to teach proper technique, not only to make them as skilled as possible, but to keep them safe. Heads up, everyone.

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