Laval player suspended for head hit, but not one that went viral

The Laval Rouge et Or team during a game against the Universite de Montreal Carabins. (James Hajjar/Universite de Montreal)

MONTREAL — A hit that dazed Trenton Miller and prompted the Concordia University quarterback to release a viral video this week pleading for greater player safety in football will go unpunished.

However, Laval Rouge et Or defensive back Kevin McGee was suspended one game for an even nastier hit on Concordia slotback James Tyrrell later in the game.

A statement released Friday from Benoit Doloreux, commissioner at the FSEQ, the body that oversees high school, collage and university football in Quebec, said a review of video and written evidence found that there was no intent to injure when Laval’s Gabriel Ouellet brought down Miller in the third quarter of the Rouge et Or’s 12-8 home win on Sept. 24.

Miller was running with the ball on the play when he was hit high, from the side, by what appears to be Ouellet’s shoulder. Miller called it a head-to-head hit. He returned later, but for only two plays. There was no immediate word on his condition.

Doloreux’s statement said the hit was legal and that, because Miller was carrying the ball, he "was not considered to be in a vulnerable position."

Tyrrell was deemed to be vulnerable when McGee went straight in for a helmet-to-helmet hit just as the Concordia player caught a pass. The commissioner ruled that McGee committed a foul that deserved ejection from the game and therefore it carried an automatic one-game suspension. The Quebec City native is to sit out the Rouge et Or’s game Sunday against McGill.

No penalty was called on the field for either play. Concordia requested the review.

"The ruling is backed by a desire to provide a safe environment for our student athletes," said FSEQ president and general manager Gustave Roel, who added that player safety "is a priority."

Miller’s impassioned video, which includes video replays of the two hits, has drawn more than 55,000 viewers.

The Buffalo, N.Y., native, in his final year of football eligibility, read a statement calling on the FSEQ to catch up to other leagues in cracking down on hits to the head and to "pursue player safety as the No. 1 issue.

"What really pains me is my parents shouldn’t have to watch my game and worry about me dying on the football field," he added. "They shouldn’t have to worry about me getting seriously injured to the point where I might have long-term effects.

"The kind of head-to-head hit that I received has no place in the game of football and is not in line with the spirit of the game and, frankly, should not happen."

Miller was a prize catch for Concordia when he transferred in 2015 — a gifted quarterback and student with top grades who is completing a graduate degree in business. He was named the Quebec conference player of the year in 2015.

Laval issued a statement saying it would not appeal the decision. It said the Rouge et Or has never encouraged or taught dangerous play and would have no further comment.

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