Former Dolphin says Nick Saban walked over convulsing player

Head coach Nick Saban and Jeno James (78) of the Miami Dolphins celebrate during the game with the Buffalo Bills on October 9, 2005 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Head coach Nick Saban and Jeno James (78) of the Miami Dolphins celebrate during the game with the Buffalo Bills on October 9, 2005 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.
Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

(CBS) - Nick Saban is not exactly Mr. Personality. His impersonal, tightly-wound coaching ethos has led to great success in college football. But according to one former player, there was one incident during Saban's tenure with the Miami Dolphins that goes beyond impersonal and enters the realm of inhuman. After a long day of practice in 2005, a player was on the ground convulsing only to have his head coach allegedly step over him and continue walking.

Heath Evans, a former fullback and current NFL Network analyst, recounts the scene in a recent interview with Miami's 790 The Ticket:

Well, the first day of two-a-days. We had about a three-hour-plus practice in the morning in that south Florida sun. You guys know what it's like down there in late July, early August. And then that night we had another practice under the lights, if I recall I think it was about from 6 to 9.

Jeno James, our best offensive lineman at the time, comes in and collapses after practice, uh, vomiting all kinds of stuff that would make a billygoat puke, eyes rolled in the back of his head. Myself, about four other lineman are trying to carry him from the locker room, to the training room.

Obviously it's a moment of panic, everyone, you know, we don't know if this guy's, you know, gonna die, I mean, the whole deal. But he's so big and sweaty and heavy that we actually have to set him down in the hallway between the locker room and the training room.

Nick Saban literally just starts walking in, steps over Jeno James convulsing, doesn't say a word, doesn't try to help, goes upstairs, I don't know what he does. But then obviously they get Jeno trauma-offed to the hospital.

The team would have to wait hours for Saban to return to the scene. As Evans describes it:

Saban calls a team meeting about 10:30 that night, comes down and says, 'You know, the captain of the ship can never show fear or indecision, we've always gotta have an answer, and so I had to go upstairs, that's why I walked over Geno like that, I had to collect my thoughts and decide what's best for our team.'

Without another source - Saban has never commented on the alleged incident - it's impossible to verify the circumstances of James' seizure. The story does add more fuel to the fire of what was widely regarded as a disastrous administration Saban ran in Miami.

Evans finishes the interview by affirming his respect for Saban's achievements.

"The guy's an amazing football coach at the college level." Evans tells Miami's 790 The Ticket. "How he gets it done isn't my style of coaching or teaching. But ultimately, the guy's got some ways about him that I'm just like, 'Are you human?' I think he might be a robot."


  • Bailey Johnson

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