By Will Brinson
It's always been kind of assumed that Nick Saban is a bit of a tough guy when it comes to on-field coaching. But a story from former Dolphins player Heath Evans on Wednesday about Saban's time in Miami is just disturbing.
Evans, speaking on The Jorge Sedano Show Wednesday, said that during training camp in 2005, Saban encountered a player getting sick on the field ... and simply walked past him.
"Jeno James, our best offensive lineman at the time, comes in and collapses after practice, uh, vomiting all kinds of stuff that would make a billygoat puke, eyes rolled in the back of his head," Evans said. "Myself, about four other lineman are trying to carry him from the locker room, to the training room.
"[...]Nick Saban literally just starts walking in, steps over Jeno James convulsing, doesn’t say a word, doesn’t try to help, goes upstairs, I don’t know what he does. But then obviously they get Jeno trauma-offed to the hospital."
That's a pretty disturbing story, obviously, and it seems to be confirmed. Greg Bedard, then working for the Palm Beach Post, reported the airlifting but not the incident of Saban walking past James.
Alex Holmes, a player on the 2005 Dolphins squad, noted on Twitter Tuesday night that James locker was next to his and that "it was brutal."
Two caveats to this story apply though. One, Evans is an Auburn grad, and Nick Saban is the current coach of Alabama. (Say what you want, it's worth noting.) And two, Evans also detailed that Saban later called a team meeting and addressed his players, excusing his behavior as a leadership tactic.
"Saban calls a team meeting about 10:30 that night," Evans said. "[He] comes down and says, ‘You know, the captain of the ship can never show fear or indecision, we’ve always gotta have an answer, and so I had to go upstairs, that’s why I walked over Jeno like that, I had to collect my thoughts and decide what’s best for our team.'"
There's no questioning that Saban knows how to lead a football team -- the man's got multiple national championships (and is about to play for another) and already has a statue next to Bear Bryant down in Tuscaloosa, even while he's still there coaching.
But it's not like 2005 is the dark ages or anything. As someone charged with the safety of his players, it's disturbing to hear that Saban would deal with a situation involving someone's health as callously as he did.
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