Another High School Football Death

The post-game video review was especially difficult at John C. Birdlebough High School. Administrators and coaches examined every frame of what will forever be known as “THE game.” The game when 16-year-old Ridge Barden died.

According to an article in The New York Times, the coroner ruled that Barden’s death was due to a brain bleed, also known as a subdural hematoma. But while the reason for his death is known, the actual cause is still a mystery.

“There’s nothing here; there’s still nothing there; there’s nothing there; there’s nothing there — and now he’s laying on his stomach,” Jeff Charles, the head coach, said while watching the sequence frame by frame.

Apparently, Barden had no preexisting condition, no history of head trauma, and no symptoms of concussion during the game. He had a state-of-the-art Riddell Revolution helmet. On hand at the game were two certified athletic trainers, and emergency medical technicians arrived with an ambulance within minutes. And yet, a catastrophic injury resulted in an untimely death.

“You can have the perfect plan in place but if all of these things happen, it can still result in a catastrophic injury and death,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, the chairman of the department of exercise and sports science at the University of North Carolina and a leading researcher on sports concussions.

During the game, Barden told his coach that he had a helmet-to-helmet hit, and that his head hurt. When he tried to stand up, he collapsed. He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance. Two hours after the injury, he had died.

This is a tragic story all around. The coach is considering not returning for another season, despite the fact that everyone agrees he did nothing wrong. No doubt, his teammates—and their parents—will also be reconsidering whether to continue playing football.

The lesson seems to be that any head injury is dangerous, and you can’t predict the outcome of any one hit. Barden never had a chance to say “Yeah, I already had one concussions…I think that’s enough. Time to quit.” His first hit was his final hit. The fatal hit.

All we can say is stay safe. Protect your head. Barden’s death was a fluke. Nothing could have been done differently or better. Sometimes, life is dangerous.

To read the full article in The New York Times, click here:  An ordinary football game

To learn more about legal options in the event of a traumatic brain injury, visit our website at  If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.

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