The NFL is a brutal sport at the best of times, but holy shit is this ever something else. The New England Patriots are playing out the remainder of today’s Super Bowl a man down, after receiver Brandin Cooks left the game following a hit from which one can only react with “damn.”
Cooks took a second quarter pass from Tom Brady and found himself surrounded by Philadelphia Eagles defenders, caught in veritable no-man’s land.
But while he managed to clock three defenders around him, it was the fourth, Malcolm Jenkins, who spread him across the deck like a tub of margarine.
Brace yourselves. This is a hit.
RIP Brandin Cooks pic.twitter.com/wTx957ELCW
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) February 5, 2018
Sweet merciful crap, OUCH.
The hit caught the attention of social media, who provided both jokes and genuine concern for his health and well-being in equal measure.
The blindside on Brandon Cooks was reminiscent of this notorious hit. pic.twitter.com/Ec3oxMglwz
— White Goodman (@White_Goodman_) February 5, 2018
Born: September 25, 1993
Died: February 4th, 2018
Cause of Death: Murder
Suspect: Malcolm Jenkins
— Jack???????? (@_JackDuke) February 5, 2018
Cooks's damaged brain will appreciate that he was technically no longer a receiver when the helmet pierced his skull.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 5, 2018
I went to Wikipedia to see where Cooks went to college and well… pic.twitter.com/xYhmI87JNY
— Nate Buxton (@NateTBuxton) February 5, 2018
Patriots fans looking at Brandon Cooks.
— Cameron Grant (@coolcam101) February 5, 2018
— ✈️ Roy Drones Jr ✈️ (@chiweethedog) February 5, 2018
It’s a very serious hit, and with the NFL currently enduring constant criticism about how they protect players and the effects of long-term head injuries, it’s obviously cause for concern. Leading chronic traumatic encephalopathy researcher Christopher Nowinski pointed out as much in a telling tweet.
Plays like Malcolm Jenkins unloading on Brandin Cooks helmet-to-helmet from behind cannot continue if the NFL doesn't want more fans to walk away. No penalty? This rule has to change in the offseason if we still respect human life. pic.twitter.com/U1MeZdYJkp
— Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. (@ChrisNowinski1) February 5, 2018
Luckily, Cooks managed to stand up and walk off the field under his own steam, but he was summarily ruled out of the remainder of the game after being assessed by team doctors.
The Eagles hold a 22-12 lead over New England at half time.Image: Getty Images / Hannah Foslein