by Irvin Muchnick
Jeff Sims, the head football coach at Garden City Community College whose first practice of the season led to the exertional heat stroke (EHS) death of 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth, ran a session of relentlessly repeated sprint drills in the August 1 heat in which the players were denied water, multiple student-athletes passed out, and the struggling Bradforth himself was subjected to the coach’s verbal ridicule in front of the entire squad.
Concussion Inc. has learned these details of the background of the most recent death in college football conditioning, and the 36th this century, from multiple eyewitnesses that day in Garden City, Kansas. These sources asked not to be named out of fear for their positions at Garden State and throughout the college football industry.
This new information emerges in the wake of a November autopsy report showing that Bradforth died of EHS — not, as Sims either misleadingly or outright mendaciously told mainstream news outlets, of a heart attack caused by a pre-existing blood clot. These outlets included national sports media bellwether Sports Illustrated, whose erroneous coverage stunted early investigation of the incident in the same year in which the EHS death of Jordan McNair at the University of Maryland made national headlines and led to the firing of DJ Durkin, the head football coach there, and to the departure of the school president and others.
(Earlier today this reporter solicited comment both from Garden City Community College and from Sims at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri, where he is the new head football coach. As this article was being published, neither had responded.)
According to our eyewitness sources, Bradforth was found unconscious by multiple teammates — perhaps as many as five — after missing an evening team meeting that followed the fatal on-field practice session.
They said that at the practice, Sims cussed out Bradforth as he struggled to complete sprint drills in the heat. For this report, I’ll hold off on spelling out the vulgarisms Sims is said to have uttered. In part, this is because the consensus of the sources is that such vile language from Sims was all but routine.
At one point, a source said, Bradforth fell to his knees and was holding his chest, and Sims went up to his side and yelled obscenely, and loudly enough to be heard by the whole group, to “get up.”
Collectively, the sources described a scene in which more than one other player passed out. They also said that at the direction of Sims, the coaching and training staff did not provide water to the athletes on the field.
At the post-conditioning drill team meeting, during which the stricken Bradforth had gone missing prior to his discovery and the call to 911, the sources said Sims made further disparaging remarks about him to an assistant coach and others.
More soon from here on this developing story.
DEATH OF BRAEDEN BRADFORTH — CHRONOLOGICAL HEADLINE LINKS