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Ex-coach Crowe focuses on kids' sports injuries

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 16, 2014 at 5:35 pm •  Published: June 16, 2014

Hammett, then a Jacksonville offensive lineman, rushed to help Cannon off the ground. Cannon died early the next morning from a traumatic brain injury after having, in the vernacular of the day, "had his bell rung" several times previously, Hammett said.

"Science and research will tell you that it's not the first lick that does it," he said. "It's repeated licks over a small period of time that lead to that traumatic brain injury. If we had known more about concussions back in those days and we had educated the coaches and the players and the parents, then Speedy might be with us today."

Hammett said Alabama has some 13,000 coaches eligible for the Jacksonville State program, and he's hoping 300-500 will participate in the fall's pilot program. JSU is seeking additional state appropriations and some federal money to help keep the program free.

Crowe is on the advisory council for the National Council on Youth Sports Safety and chairs the committee for coaches, training and officiating.

He ran Andrews' American Sports Medicine Institute before Jacksonville State hired him. JSU fired him last November after 13 seasons, and Crowe went back to his health-related roots.

Andrews, who wrote "Any Given Monday" about youth sports injuries in 2013, said the rate has been on the rise. He believes the JSU curriculum will help cut the number of youth injuries.

"It will bring coaches and parents up to speed on some simple practices that can increase sports safety and reduce risk of youth injuries," Andrews said in a statement.

Crowe, meanwhile, still gets emotional when talking about the death of Pratt, who he called "one of the most loved players on our team." A coroner determined it was heat stroke.

Crowe is hoping a state that produced four of the last five BCS national champions — can also take a prominent role in injury prevention.

"We need to have a vision of excellence that is just as good at prevention as it is at competitive excellence," Crowe said. "What we've got to do is say that Alabama has extended its mission to be the best in injury prevention in America. That's my mission right there."