Richard Stockton College Athletic Training

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  This article was reprinted with permission from Journal of Athletic Training
The Incidence of Spearing by High School Football Ball-Carriers and Their Tacklers.  Jon Heck.  Journal of Athletic Training. 27: 120-124;1992.

Article Background
Back where it all began.  The concept of spearing by ball carriers came to me back in the mid 80's while I was a student athletic trainer at William Paterson.  Hanging outside the athletic training room was a simple newspaper photo of a ball carrier and tackler about to make contact, helmet to helmet with their heads down.  Our Program Director, Toby Barbosa, wrote on the photo in black magic marker, "Is this spearing?".  That's how this whole thing got started. 

In 1989 I began grad school at the University of Florida.  All along the idea had been rolling around in my little brain.  I saw it in every football game I watched, but never saw it mentioned in an article.  I noticed players like Walter Payton & Earl Campbell punishing tacklers in the NFL with the technique.  During my first year at UF I mustered up the confidence to submit an article on the topic to The Physician & SportsMedicine.  It was basically an editorial and truthfully a pretty lame effort.  Needless to say, it came back fairly quickly and fully rejected.  If it ever got to any of their editors, I'm sure they had a good laugh. 

But the rejection made me realize I needed some data that demonstrated how often it occurred.  There followed the brainstorm to review game films.  My brother was coaching football at Millville High School, and that presented the opportunity.  During the spring and summer of 1990 I began reviewing the game films and collecting the data.  I took the photos during the 1990 season, both in Gainesville and at Millville.  I finished writing the article during the winter break of 1990 and it was submitted to the Journal of Athletic Training in Feb. of 1991. 

That's when the "fun" began.  My sincere thanks still go out to Dr. Ken Knight, the Editor in Chief at the time and to the reviewers of my article.  The article still had a long way to go, and they actually coached me through this process.  It is no easy task to learn to write in the first person with active voice while dealing with statistics.  Or at least it wasn't for me.  Back and forth the article went, each time requesting additional revisions.  Gradually I learned.  After three full revisions and almost an entire year the article was accepted for publication on Feb. 18th 1992.  And I realized it was something I enjoyed doing.
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