The background of coaches head-butting helmeted gamers

SHANE BEAMER IS not a meathead. He wishes to make this point apparent since, frankly, the visible evidence from Oklahoma’s 2019 opener from Houston would counsel normally.

What Beamer appeared like that working day, with blood clotting all over a strand of tape that briefly closed a fifty percent-inch gash just earlier mentioned his still left eye, was a lot more boxer than football mentor. The glimpse, he explained, evoked Lattimer, the experience-painted, window-smashing linebacker from the 1993 football movie “The Software.” Standing on the sideline in the third quarter, QB Jalen Hurts glared at Beamer for a moment right before inquiring, “What the hell took place to you?”

What took place was this: Fullback Jeremiah Corridor scored Oklahoma’s very first touchdown of the time, and the to start with of his career. Beamer enjoys Corridor, and he required to celebrate. Both of those were being a tad way too psyched, and the celebration went haywire. Beamer’s bare forehead collided with Hall’s helmet in a display of affection that finished with blood pouring down Beamer’s experience.

Beamer wiped what he believed was sweat from his brow, only to discover a geyser of blood. He scrambled for the team’s trainer.

“I don’t know what this appears to be like like,” he explained to the coach, “but I want you to help me.”

Beamer could at the very least take solace in the expertise he was hardly the very first mentor to get rid of a fight with a football helmet. John T. Riddel developed the to start with plastic helmet in 1948, and it really is most likely the to start with inadequately executed head-butt soon adopted. About the decades, a host of gamers, power trainers and coaches have all manufactured the error of connecting bare heads with a helmet-wearing participant in hopes of ginning up pregame exhilaration or celebrating a significant perform or, from time to time, only simply because you will find some thing primal about two men smashing their heads alongside one another. It takes place on a close to-once-a-year foundation, and the clash between challenging helmet and soft skin nearly often outcomes in a number of stitches and a good deal of great jokes.

There is certainly LSU assistant energy coach Jake Reidel, who shipped a pregame head-knock to wide receiver Racey McMath in 2018, opening up a awful gash throughout his very own brow in the course of action.

You will find former Texas mentor Tom Herman, who sent the unusual triple head-butt to get his crew fired up ahead of its 2019 showdown with Baylor. The shift prompted no actual injury to Herman’s cranium, but the Longhorns lost 24-10.

You will find previous Ohio State assistant (and existing Tennessee Titans mentor) Mike Vrabel, who thought he’d escaped community ridicule immediately after slicing his encounter in the course of a head-butt celebration again in 2012, only to have his spouse tweet out a photograph of the gory aftermath a couple of days later on with the warning, “best not to head-butt a male with a helmet when you aren’t donning a person!! #Einstein.”

For Beamer, now the head mentor at South Carolina, the jokes started ahead of the activity was even in excess of. Oklahoma was up significant, and the broadcast team wanted to fill some airtime as the ultimate minutes ticked off the clock. Enter ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe, with a entire health care description of Beamer’s harm, entire with a photograph of the stitched-up assistant mentor. Social media took it from there, as memes enjoying up Beamer’s new Frankenstein overall look circulated, and mates and spouse and children before long shared people with Beamer’s wife, Emily, who was in the stands.

“She arrived down on the field following the recreation all apprehensive, like, ‘What did you do?'” Shane Beamer mentioned.

Beamer claimed he was worried the viral minute would mark him as a hothead, grabbing players and offering head-butts devoid of a next considered to his possess well being and protection, but most of the texts ended up supportive — or at the very least value a chuckle. Following all, he claimed, knocking heads with a guy in a helmet could feel inexplicable to an exterior observer, but for coaches truly missing in the minute on sport working day, it all makes ideal perception at the time.

“I failed to want to be that dude,” Beamer claimed. “But folks that know me know how substantially I enjoy coaching and really like my young children and that was just an example. Just not the smartest a person.”


It’s Not possible TO know who authored the initially inept head-butt in coaching historical past, but it can be harmless to say it was previous Georgia defensive coordinator Erk Russell, who established the standard by which all modern mishaps really should be judged.

During the 1970s, Russell had a pregame tradition with his defensive linemen in which gamers huddled all over the coach in what he termed “the bull ring.” Russell would place to a lineman — the bull — who would then cost the coach. Russell would mash his bald scalp into the player’s chest and shoulder pads, lifting the participant into the air with his arms. From outdoors the huddle, it seemed violent, but Russell had his technique down and no hurt was completed — until finally the Dawgs’ 1979 activity against South Carolina.

That working day, Georgia was down a few linemen thanks to injuries, so Russell experienced 1 of his linebackers, Robert Goodwin, move to D-close. Goodwin experienced viewed the pregame ritual before, but like most persons who had witnessed the spectacle, he imagined Russell delivered a genuine head-butt. So, when they all lined up in the bull ring, Russell called out Goodwin’s title, and the bull charged.

“Robert comes traveling in, contemplating he’s head-butting,” said Frank Ros, one of Georgia’s star defenders at the time. “He arrives in and lowers his head and wham!”

Worse but, Goodwin’s facemask had been rapidly connected to his helmet moments before, leaving the idea of a screw jutting out from the entrance. The screw dug into the prime of Russell’s head and opened a ugly, two-inch gash.

“Blood just started pouring down,” Ros reported.

Russell was not fazed. He wiped the blood from his head and commenced swiping it across his players’ jerseys in advance of a team trainer last but not least intervened, sticking a butterfly bandage throughout the laceration.

The ensuing picture of Russell, streaks of blood jogging down his brow, a swab of blood staining his white polo shirt and a bandage affixed to his bald scalp, now stands as an iconic reminder of the coach’s ferocity, even if people who performed for Russell understood he was rarely the madman the image evokes.

“People think he was a mean, challenging, rough dude,” Ros explained. “But he was the nicest man. He’d in no way degrade you and generally finished with, ‘I know you can do it.’ Person, you would operate by way of a wall for that dude.”

The up coming day, players showed up for a Sunday film assessment and weightlifting, and a couple commenced razzing Russell about the injury.

“I guess you will not likely be head-butting this week,” just one player joked.

No, Russell stated. His head-butting days ended up formally more than.

“I acquired house very last evening,” Ros remembered Russell outlining, “and my spouse mentioned if I at any time came dwelling wanting like that all over again, she was heading to divorce me.”


THERE IS NO Formal club for coaches who have survived a head-butting mishap, no sharing of war tales or evaluating struggle scars. Army coach Mike Viti, who was just about knocked out right after a helmet-to-head collision during the Black Knights’ recreation versus Cincinnati final year, suggested there should at least be a ceremonial helmet (or dunce cap, possibly) they all have to put on in the course of the following match.

In the stop, Viti was fine and remained on the sideline, nevertheless a little bit upset with himself. Viti blamed the mishap on his own absence of athleticism. If he’d gotten a bit much more vertical, he thinks, he may well have avoided the worst of the blow.

“I was mad I was down on my activity and not matching [Mike Johnson]’s depth,” he explained.

Beamer figures the occasional sideline mishap is inevitable, and no amount of preparation can prevail over the sheer physics of a headfirst come across with a helmet-wearing participant. Beamer explained he remembers his father, longtime Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, as soon as was punched in the encounter by a single of his gamers, an accident that occurred after a brawl ensued towards rival Virginia. The elder Beamer misplaced a tooth. In comparison, Shane Beamer put up a very good battle, noting that his strategy was flawless. He experienced leverage, and he sent the blow. It truly is specifically what he preaches to his working backs. And nonetheless, he was nonetheless the one with stitches. Helmet usually beats cranium.

“People today are just expressing their thoughts as aggressively as they can. And for regardless of what reason, that lands on head-butts often.”

Mike Viti, Military assistant mentor

Heck, at times helmet even beats helmet. Witness Toledo defensive stop John Stepec’s functionality in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl. Following earning a unique teams deal with, Stepec celebrated with teammates, bumping heads with the 5-foot-8 kicker then conking helmets with a scrawny receiver. Each celebrations went off without a hitch.

Then Stepec’s helmet tapped 300-pound defensive tackle Treyvon Hester, who was also wearing a helmet, and down went the bigger player. Hester stumbled, tumbled and fell on to the turf as Stepec ongoing to celebrate. (While he apologized later on on Twitter, noting, “I bought a small enthusiastic.”)

So, probably the lesson is that you can find no these detail as an helpful head-butt celebration, and the ideal suggestions from the ashamed authorities is this: Consider a high-five instead.

“It is really like all those messages on the facet perspective mirror,” Corridor reported. “Helmets may be more difficult than they show up.”


IN THE AFTERMATH of Hall’s showdown with Beamer’s cranium, he was capable to bask in the glory of social media celeb. He picked up a number of new followers on Twitter, and he appreciated looking at his landing replayed on SportsCenter yet again and yet again (followed by the replay of the Beamer blunder for full impact).

For Johnson, the fallout from his collision with Viti was not quite so a great deal enjoyable.

All through a timeout versus Cincinnati, Johnson retreated to the sideline and discovered Viti waiting. The two routinely thumped chests or tapped heads as a exhibit of enthusiasm, so Johnson imagined nothing at all of it when he went in for a chest thump.

“We the two arrived out sizzling,” Johnson explained. “We the two went ahead. Each went for a chest bump and neither of us moved our heads. Subsequent detail you know, growth!”

Viti stumbled backward, dazed and bleary.

“I was a standing eight rely,” Viti mentioned.

Head mentor Jeff Monken grabbed his assistant and held him upright, as Johnson turned to seem for a trainer. In the process, he noticed the overhead digital camera, pointed specifically at the scene.

“Very well,” Johnson explained to himself, “I guess they caught that a person.”

In fact, the scene became quick fodder on social media, with far more than a couple of viewers casting Johnson as a maniacal villain — a genuine-existence Lattimer, far too hulked out on football endorphins to care about the safety of his possess mentor.

The fact is, Viti and Johnson are exceptionally close, “kindred spirits,” as Viti explained. Viti saw so a great deal of himself in how Johnson performed the sport, and Johnson said Viti is a purpose product for the kind of male he hopes to be. The last factor Johnson wanted to do was harm his coach.

“He was so apologetic,” Viti reported. “I was like, ‘I’m far more upset that you are apologizing to me.’ We have had a great snicker.”

Johnson was discouraged by the assumption that he was unhinged. It truly is not like he walks down the road on an ordinary Tuesday head-butting strangers. But this is school soccer, and from time to time the thoughts acquire more than and all common perception is out the window.

What appears brutal is, in real truth, an act of enjoy — albeit a badly regarded as 1.

“It can be this distinctive section of activity in which you see it a great deal and men and women are just expressing their feelings as aggressively as they can,” Viti reported. “And for regardless of what explanation, that lands on head-butts from time to time.”

Which is why it retains going on in spite of all feeling of logic and self-preservation. It can be the athletics equal of a gender expose, a familial celebration that finishes in chaos significantly way too normally, although the relaxation of the globe gawks and laughs the misfortune of these lousy souls foolish sufficient to participate,

The head-butt celebration — with or with no a helmet — is engrained in the lifestyle of college football alongside are living mascots and major-male touchdowns.

So Beamer appreciates he may well be known as a meathead, even if his head evidently lacked plenty of meat to adequately cushion the blow. But it is really also a testomony to how considerably Beamer and Johnson and Russell adore the recreation and the prospect to rejoice achievements with reckless abandon.

It is, Hall said, possibly the most legitimate celebration there is. Dumb, but authentic.

Who wouldn’t want to watch that unfold on social media once again and once more?

“That’s just the character of Beamer, person,” Corridor said. “He enjoys his men. He’s that form of coach. He’s extremely invested in his players and when times like that take place — I’m not content I head-butted him, but I’m content we experienced a instant I can discuss about for the relaxation of my life.”