Lions might shelve Harrington after heart scare

Things got worse for the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Not only did the Lions lose 23-20 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field, Detroit suffered a bigger shock. Rookie quarterback Joey Harrington was taken from the field and rushed to Henry Ford hospital when trainers and team doctors found his heart rate soaring above the 200 levels.

(DETROIT, MI)--Things got worse for the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Not only did the Lions lose 23-20 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field, Detroit suffered a bigger shock.

Rookie quarterback Joey Harrington was taken from the field and rushed to Henry Ford hospital when trainers and team doctors found his heart rate soaring above the 200 levels.

Harrington played in just one series before being yanked from the game and put into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital. Mike McMahon took over from that point forward. Detroit media relations staff would not issue any comment until Harrington had arrived at Henry Ford hospital. It was then learned about Harrington's irregular heartbeat problem.

This has to be a complete shock for Detroit's front office staff. Harrington had never shown anywhere in his football history and record of heart problems. Exhaustive pre-draft camp physicals revealed nothing of the sort and yet, Harrington admitted to Dr. Keith Burch that his father had the same sort of problems.

"Occasionally you'll see irregular heart-rates that do manifest in families," said Burch. "I think he did say on the way to the hospital that his father occasionally had trouble with this too."

Despite that Burch said if results come back negative Harrington might only miss this week's Atlanta game and could possibly even contribute in that one.

"At first [his heart beat] was irregular on the field and we decided to take him over and get a rhythm-strip on the EKG. When we got him over to the side he was going at a fairly fast rate," said Burch.

"It was up in the 200s and it was a very regular rate. He converted or switched out of it on his own spontaneously and then about 10-minutes later he slipped back into it. We thought that it would be better to take him to the hospital and let the cardiologist take a look at him. In the ambulance, very shortly after leaving Ford Field he spontaneously converted again and he's been doing well ever since."

While all parties concerned seemed to think that Harrington's problem was an isolated one, consider that Detroit is one of the few teams in the NFL to ever have a player die on the field. Wide receiver Chuck Hughes suffered a massive heart attack and died on the Tiger Stadium field.

With that backdrop, you couldn't blame Detroit if they decided to put the rookie on the shelf for the rest of this season until exhaustive tests can be performed.


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