Young Football Player Dies: Dana Payne, 15, Collapses From Hit

By Rick Stavig

The football world grieves today for a loss of one of its own. A 15 year old boy, Dana Payne, has died as a result of a collision during practice. The sophomore from Millington (Tenn.) Central High School was outside for the team’s afternoon practice when the hit occurred. Witnesses have said that there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary during the play and that the hit looked and sounded normal. Payne briefly got up from the hit, collapsed, was administered CPR and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

What a terrible, terrible shame. Payne was a healthy 5’11,’’ 145lb football player who was only just beginning to show signs of his athletic potential. The sophomore was a bright kid, wanted to go to Vanderbilt and be a doctor. He just wanted to help people.

What on earth happened during the ‘normal’ hit that caused this healthy young man not to get up? Could this have been prevented? These are the kinds of questions that are going to need to be answered in the coming days. Parents of kids playing the game are going to want to know if their sons are also at potential risk.

Football is a violent game. No one questions that, and nearly everyone embraces that. The game has become even more violent as new generations get bigger, stronger and faster. Much has been made in the news about what the game can do to your body after years of playing it.

But it’s one thing to see side effects of playing the game for that many years and seeing a young life end on one single play. I only barely understand how that family, that town and those teammates feel during a tragedy like this. I had a football teammate of mine who collapsed during summer camp years ago and he also never got up. There’s nothing that can be said to help the matter. You just pray for everyone going through this to have strength.

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