Jim Mora caught some heat at the end of last week for his candid comments (via ESPN) with respect to campus safety. This week, the head coach is winning in the media for his reaction to the decision of one of his best players hanging up his cleats. Patrick Larimore, the Bruins leading returning tackler, decided to step away from football after absorbing his second concussion two days into fall camp, per Fox Sports West.
While the loss is devastating on the field, Mora is handling it the way he's supposed to. They've moved some players around to accommodate the change, but more importantly, Mora is saying the right things about Larimore's decision, from the L.A. Times:
"Football is wonderful, and it's provided me with my life's work, but at the end of the day these kids have to go on and live the rest of their lives," Mora said. "It takes guts, especially at that age, to make the decision, 'I can't do it anymore, and if I do my long-term health could be sacrificed."
The coach hits the nail on the head; it took big time guts out of Larimore to hang it up. The rising senior was set to have a solid season and likely get a good look at an NFL career; he made the decision that a lot of players don't make. Larimore opted out of the dangerous game. He, like Andrew Sweat the former Buckeyes' linebacker, made the unpopular choice, but it was the right choice.
Football is great, but when it comes to sacrificing the continued health of your brain, the choice shouldn't be as hard as it always is. Players like Sweat, Larimore and Minnesota tackle Jimmy Gjere, who recently made the same decision, should be applauded for making that tough decision. Guys should do what's best for themselves. They should not be goaded into returning to play too soon or chided as too soft by electing to stop their career.
The good thing is Jim Mora gets it. Mora's supporting his best linebacker by being safer than sorry when it comes to concussions. That, along with UCLA's approach to head injuries, is a positive in my book. While Mora might have made a bit of a misstep with his "murders" quote, when it comes to his players safety and their futures, he gets it.