Rarely have fans of football been more aware of how dangerous the game is than now, in the wake of Damar Hamlin's terrifying on-field collapse.
In the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wild card playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 16, 2023, Tampa Bay wide receiver Russell Gage provided another reminder after taking a scary blow to the head from a safety. He eventually had to be carried off the field on a stretcher.
What happened to Russell Gage?
Late in the fourth quarter, Gage stumbled on his route and wasn't able to make a catch from quarterback Tom Brady as a result. After failing to make the catch, Gage took a hard hit to the neck from Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson. After the play, Gage appeared to try to get to his feet, only to find that he wasn't able to. He then pounded his hand into the ground in what appeared to be frustration.
Following the injury, players from both teams took knees while Gage was attended to by medical personnel. He was eventually taken off the field on a stretcher. Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said that he was taken to the hospital after that.
"Right now, he has a concussion. They're also testing him for potential neck injuries," Bowles said.
The head coach was also asked about whether Gage could move his extremities, and he replied saying "his fingers were moving when he was down. I don't know about the rest."
For now, football fans will have to wait for additional updates on his condition. Gage's injury is obviously yet another reminder that there are serious ramifications for players who decide to pursue this sport as a career.
"It was really tough — especially with what happened a couple weeks ago," Tampa Bay inside linebacker Lavonte David said after the game. "Russ is a great dude off the field and a great guy on the field. We definitely hope he's well. He was moving and stuff like that; that was a good sign. Definitely hope he's okay."
Tampa Bay was eliminated from the playoffs.
Gage's injury understandably pulled the focus from the result of the Jan. 16 game, which saw the Cowboys pull off a commanding victory over the Buccaneers 31–14. The game was even more one-sided than that result may suggest, and it means that Brady has once again been eliminated from the post-season. It remains to be seen where the seven-time Super Bowl champion will head now that the season is over, but it seems he may be on his way out of Tampa.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, will go on to play the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco next week as part of the divisional round. The Cowboys are one of the three teams from the NFC East that have made it to the divisional round, meaning that three of the four remaining teams from the NFC are from that division. The other NFC divisional matchup next weekend will be between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles.