Gamble said he wasn't too worried when he heard his former player was inside the ambulance, so he turned the television off and continued his evening.
"I didn't think it was very serious," Gamble said. "I thought, 'He's a tough guy. He'll bounce back.' I just thought it was precautionary."
Gamble, who lives and still coaches in Cincinnati, traveled to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to visit Love on Sunday. When Gamble arrived, Love told Gamble he had a cervical spine fracture. Even though he had movement in all four extremities, Gamble said, the doctors told Love he would never be able to play contact sports again, especially football.
"I told him it would be a new challenge," Gamble said of continuing his life after football. "He didn't seem too devastated. He was close to achieving his dream [of playing in the NFL], but he's more worried about his education."
Love was injured when he caught a 2-yard pass from quarterback Nate Davis with 10:45 left in the second half of Ball State University's 42-20 victory against the Hoosiers. Love lined up in the back field on the play and ran an arrow route toward the Indiana sideline. After catching the ball, he took a couple steps before he was leveled by Indiana cornerback Chris Adkins.
Gamble said Love recalled the play clearly, but details from after the tackle are fuzzy. The senior heard his teammates telling him to get up - like he had so many other times - but he couldn't muster the strength.
Gamble said Love told him he regrets fighting for a couple extra yards instead of going out of bounds."He thought it was just a stinger," Gamble said. "He was shocked he wasn't able to get up."
Despite missing the last 40 minutes of Saturday's game, Love still ranks second in the nation with 460 receiving yards and is four catches away from having the most receptions in the country. Depending on his recovery, Gamble said, Love could use his athleticism to play other sports, a possibility Love was considering Sunday at the hospital.
"He told me he was thinking about playing baseball," Gamble said. "Some people think baseball is his better sport."
Dr. Frank Wilson, president of the Sports Medicine Institute of Indiana, said Love's injury is the most dreaded in football. Wilson, who does not work at Methodist Hospital and did not treat Love, said the chances for spinal injury greatly increased because Love lowered his head when he collided with Adkins.
"That is the No. 1 source of cervical spine fractures and injuries," Wilson said. "The spine was not designed to take a hit with the head down like that."
Spinal injuries were more common in the 1970s, when defenders commonly speared players with their heads down. Wilson said 30 to 40 football players became quadriplegics each year because of spinal injuries.
However, changes in the way coaches teach tackling technique and stricter penalties for spear tackles have drastically decreased the amount of spinal injuries in football. Wilson said the average number of spinal injuries resulting in quadriplegia each year had decreased to five in 1991, and that number has remained consistent since.
Wilson commended the efforts coaches and referees have taken to improve the safety of football players over the years, but he said spinal injuries are still an unfortunate possibility in football.
"This is just one of those accidental things that happen," Wilson said.
Story as posted by Ryan Wood.Reposted by Scott Kleckner of Ball State Insider.