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How severe is Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow's concussion?

GAINESVILLE -- Here's a question that needs answering on Monday when University of Florida coach Urban Meyer briefs reporters on the status of quarterback Tim Tebow: How severe is Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow's concussion?

On Sunday, Meyer said in a statement that Tebow "is doing fine." The statement was vague but understandably so, considering team doctors will be running tests on Tebow throughout the week to fully understand the extent of his brain injury. Tebow suffered a concussion on Saturday during the third quarter of UF's 41-7 win against Kentucky. Here's a link to my follow-up story in Monday's paper. CLICK ME! And here's a link to an opinion column by Miami Herald sportswriter Israel Gutierrez in Monday's paper about the Gators. CLICK ME!

In Monday's story, I focused on observations made by UF linebacker Ryan Stamper, who watched from the sidelines, and then the playing field, as the one of the biggest stories in college football this season -- Tebow's concussion -- played out inside UK's Commonwealth Stadium. Stamper usually does not watch Tebow and the Gators' offense during games, but on Saturday Stamper made a point to watch Tebow in action during the third quarter.

Being a defender, Stamper zeroed in on UK defensive tackle Taylor Wyndham as he sprinted unblocked at Tebow and then leveled UF's quarterback. Stamper, along with UF's entire team, was on the field shortly after it became obvious that Tebow was seriously injured.

TebowAccording to the linebacker, Tebow was "knocked out cold" following the multiple blows his head absorbed during the play. Three shots to the head: Wyndham's helmet, Gilbert's knee and then the ground.

"A lot of guys get concussions or knocked out but kind of get up and just don't know where they were at," Stamper said after the game. "[Tebow] was just knocked out cold -- wasn't moving or anything. I've never really seen nothing like that before, especially from him.

"It was kind of shocking."

Now, consider the source after you read that quote. To teammates, Stamper is a captain, trusted voice and levelheaded leader. To reporters, Stamper is a soft-spoken veteran football player who measures his words.

Specialists classify the severity of a concussion with three grades: I, II and III. According to the American Academy of Neurology, a Grade III concussion -- or the most severe -- is the diagnoses for any concussion when a player loses consciousness.

On Saturday and Sunday, Florida coach Urban Meyer and then a member of UF's sports information staff publicly said they were unaware that Tebow lost consciousness. If anyone watched the game, or re-watched footage of Wyndham's sack on YouTube, it's obvious that Tebow was knocked unconscious. Wyndham said after the game that Tebow's eyes rolled into the back of his head. Tebow didn't move for several minutes. His arms were locked in a raised position -- a common symptom of a concussion -- as he fell to the ground and then both arms went limp and flopped to the field. He did not respond to team trainers for nearly two minutes. 

Tebowcart Meyer said after the game that the first thing Tebow asked him was whether or not he fumbled the ball during the sack. That might be true but Tebow did show signs of amnesia after he was helped off the field. On the sidelines, he could be seen repeatedly responding to questions from Florida's training staff with the same answer: "I don't remember."

Bob Tebow, Tim's father, did not return phone calls on Sunday, but Craig Howard, Tebow's high school football coach, told the Orlando Sentinel that the Tebows informed him on Sunday morning that the quarterback's concussion was "mild." By all other accounts, Tebow's concussion was anything but mild.

In his column in Monday's Miami Herald, Gutierrez made an interesting point. Gutierrez wrote: Already, though, the Gators' spin machine appears to be setting up for a Tebow return on Oct. 10, when UF faces its toughest regular-season test: at Louisiana State.

Of course, that's going to be the biggest question for the next two weeks: Will Tebow play against LSU? Considering Tebow's rugged style -- he had 40 carries in his last two games -- and UF's lack of receivers, the quarterback will likely expose himself to further possible concussions upon his return. According to medical experts, once you suffer one concussion, the potential for future concussions is raised considerably.

My personal opinion? I don't think Meyer, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley and, most importantly, the team's doctor -- the guy who has to make the call on Tebow's return -- is going to take a chance of a nightmare scenario by putting Tebow in harms way against LSU.

Oh, yeah, and then there's this: UF can defeat LSU without Tebow.

-jo-

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