Maurice Hurst was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and some in the league are up in arms because he was diagnosed with a heart condition at the NFL Combine. Is there anger justified?
On October 24, 1971, Chuck Hughes became part of NFL history for the wrong reason. He died of a heart attack on the field during the game. No one had died during a game before him or has since.
Now, the Oakland Raiders decided to take Maurice Hurst in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft despite the heart condition he was diagnosed with. Hopefully we don’t have a tragic repeat of Hughes’ fate, although the selection has some in the NFL very angry.
The ire of the football world is understandable. Some have call it “irresponsible,” according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. In fact, one unnamed head coach took it a step further.
“Only the Raiders would draft a guy who could literally die on the field from a known condition.”
Is it irresponsible to draft a guy with a known condition that could cause death? Absolutely. Still, there’s another potential side to the coin.
He was sent home from the NFL Combine to receive further testing. After tests, he received word from cardiologists that he was cleared to play football.
Former New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley is said to have a similar condition, and the Saints put him on the Non-Football Injury list last June, effectively ending his career.
So, are the Raiders completely in the wrong here for drafting a guy with a known heart ailment? It depends on whose judgement you trust. The league officials who are angry have access to specifics that I don’t (ie. the specific heart condition Hurst was diagnosed with). Without that information, it’s hard to judge. However, their anger — and teams passing him — would insinuate that it’s serious.
On the other hand, doctors did clear him to play football. So, there’s that. Professionals who understand the condition better than the people who are angry say he can play.
There’s one solution. The Raiders should monitor him at practice and in games very carefully. If there’s any sign of serious trouble, get him out, immediately.