Reed between the lines

By Geoff Lee

December 1, 2015 1:05 PM

Kavis Reed Montreal Alouettes' special teams co-ordinator and former Edmonton Eskimos head coach was a keynote speaker at the Lakeland Regional Safety Conference held at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds Nov. 26 - three days before the Grey Cup game.

Former Edmonton Eskimos player and head coach Kavis Reed pulled off an overtime talk on safety leadership at the conclusion of the Lakeland Regional Safety Conference.
Reed spoke to delegates from a variety of industries on the “empowering your safety leader” theme at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds Nov. 26.
His speech came three days before the Eskimos played the Ottawa Redblacks in the Grey Cup game on Sunday but he offered no predictions because his mind was focused on player safety.
Reed spent this season in the Canadian Football League as a special teams coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes tasked with following improved concussion protocols.
As an assistant CFL coach he’s ready to yank any player from the game who could have a head injury.
“Having played before I think if you put a 100 coaches in there, 100 will tell you the same thing — a players’s safety is absolutely premium,” said Reed in an interview with the Source.
“There’s no question and no room for marginal error there. Anything that looks like it going to be a problem — that player doesn’t play.”
Reed said safety in the sports industry is extremely important, and noted a lot has been written about the injuries that occur in sports especially concussions.
This season the CFL in partnership with the NFL launched a sideline concussion detection test involving the B.C. Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The test takes just two minutes and evaluates cognitive functions based on eye movement. Each player on the four CFL teams involved took a baseline test in the preseason.
“I think our league has done a tremendous job as addressing that issue. The protocols are in place to make certain that we do everything possible to ensure players’ safety,” said Reed.
Reed’s message for other industry leaders who attended the Lloyd conference in the Prairie Room was to recognize the need for strong leadership to resolve safety issues.
“The coaches are responsible for putting players in safe positions,” he said about his industry.
Reed commented on a delayed concussion Saint Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum suffered in a recent NFL game where he was not pulled from the field following a blow to his head.
“I look at those situations and I always say that fans and people watching the game have a distinct advantage over the people on the field because you have the privilege and opportunity to see replay,” said Reed.
“Often on the field things happen so fast and the protocol being in place sometimes there’s a failure in that because the symptoms are sometimes delayed.”
He said he doesn’t fault what may have happened to Keenum, after having personally experienced it.
Reed suffered a career ending neck injury in 1999 while playing for the Eskimos. He needed surgery to fuse two vertebrate in his neck.
“You go through the protocol, the trainers are exceptionally well trained in that. Sometime you have delayed symptoms,” he said.
“The doctors have done a phenomenal jobs in terms of the way they handle players to recover and give them precautionary information.”
Reed recalled his surgery took place the same day NHL great Wayne Gretzky played his last game for the New York Rangers adding he has made a full recovery.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said.
He also aimed to tell the safety conference that in the sports industry you can’t perform if you’re injured.
He noted one the biggest safety improvements in sports is the equipment players wear.
“There’s a keenness about having the right equipment. The players have been forced through legislation to wear certain pieces of equipment to enhance their safety,” said Reed.

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