Basketball Can Be Football Hazard

I don't remember all the details, particularly which players were involved, but I do remember two rules instituted by Paul Bryant in the 1970s. One involved motorcycles and the other basketball.

He wasn't making the rules as Alabama Football Coach Bear Bryant. The regulations came from Athletics Director Paul W. Bryant. They were for all athletes (or at least all male athletes, since there were no women's sports in the athletics department at that time). The rules were:

No scholarshipped athlete was to ride a motorcycle as operator or passenger. And the only athletes who could play basketball were basketball players.

Basketball is a fun game. Alabama Coach Nick Saban and selected members of the Crimson Tide athletics department (good players on Commissioner Saban's team, not as good on the opposing team) play basketball at lunch time on a regular basis. Saban knows injuries can come from playing basketball. He suffered a thumb injury last year.

Football players are likely to be more interested in a pick-up basketball game than a pick-up football game.

There is no reason to believe that Saban has a prohibition against his players participating in basketball.

The issue arose after Alabama football signee Dequan Menzie suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon while playing basketball last week. Menzie was signed to provide depth for a secondary that is being rebuilt. He was a junior college star cornerback at Copiah-Lincoln in Mississippi. Now his Alabama career is expected to be delayed until at least the spring of 2011.

This week a couple of Alabama football players were asked about playing basketball.

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said, "I think a general rule in season is you stay away from extracurricular physical activity. We get enough work in football practice every day as far as physical conditioning. We limit things like basketball and racquetball. We're already so worn out from practice. Any extra time should be spend watching film.

"As far as the off-season, I think we're allowed to do what we want."

Crimson Tide linebacker Dont'a Hightower gives extra thought to injury after having missed the last 10-plus games of 2009 with a severe knee injury suffered when he was victim of a legal cut block in the Arkansas game.

He said he gives thought to what he does, and he indicated he doesn't play basketball.

"I'm very conscious about it, especially since the injury," he said. "I know there are guys who go up (to the Student Recreation Center), but I don't know if they play basketball. I think everyone is trying to limit that, playing basketball. The slightest jolt when you come down on your ankle wrong...

"Guys who need extra cardiovascular are doing it on treadmill or something."

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