Tuesday 790 The Ticket morning show host Jorge Sedano interviewed former NFL player Heath Evans for a segment that will air on the Miami sports radio station Wednesday morning at 7:30am ET.
During the interview, Evans was asked by Sedano to describe Nick Saban at Dolphins training camp in 2005 when Saban was in his first year as Miami’s head coach and Evans was a player on the squad.
SEDANO: Give me an example of something he did to someone while you were there that made you shake your head, you’re like, ‘That stuff doesn’t work here’.
EVANS: Well, the first day of two-a-days. We had about a three-hour-plus practice in the morning in that south Florida sun. You guys know what it’s like down there in late July, early August. And then that night we had another practice under the lights, if I recall I think it was about from 6 to 9.
Jeno James, our best offensive lineman at the time, comes in and collapses after practice, uh, vomiting all kinds of stuff that would make a billygoat puke, eyes rolled in the back of his head. Myself, about four other lineman are trying to carry him from the locker room, to the training room.
Obviously it’s a moment of panic, everyone, you know, we don’t know if this guy’s, you know, gonna die, I mean, the whole deal. But he’s so big and sweaty and heavy that we actually have to set him down in the hallway between the locker room and the training room.
Nick Saban literally just starts walking in, steps over Jeno James convulsing, doesn’t say a word, doesn’t try to help, goes upstairs, I don’t know what he does. But then obviously they get Jeno trauma-offed to the hospital.
Saban calls a team meeting about 10:30 that night, comes down and says, ‘You know, the captain of the ship can never show fear or indecision, we’ve always gotta have an answer, and so I had to go upstairs, that’s why I walked over Geno like that, I had to collect my thoughts and decide what’s best for our team.’
And I’m thinking to myself, I think along with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas and Yeremiah Bell and all these other guys going, ‘Did he, does he really believe what he’s just saying?’ He showed no human emotion for one of his best players. He literally stepped over him when four or five grown men are trying to carry Jeno to the training room.
And at that point honestly, you know, I was only there, you know, for seven weeks of that football season before he cut me, um, and let me say this – that was the best thing that ever happened to my career, because obviously A) they had to pay me, and B) Bill Belichick picked me up and I learned more football than I ever thought I’d know – but that deciding moment kind of right there of how Nick Saban handled that, I think it always showed the team that ultimately he doesn’t really care about any of us players.
SEDANO: I mean, are you serious? Well, listen, I know for a fact that people in that office, they weren’t even allowed to look at him, for God’s sake! Like, I heard a story about his secretary telling him he had a nice haircut, he kind of like grunted at her and kept walking. And then someone later, this Scotty O’Brien, that hatchet man that he had, came up to her and says, ‘You’re not allowed to speak to the coach! Don’t you dare speak to the coach!’ Just nonsense that Scotty O’Brien - he had a hatchet man! What coach has a hatchet man?
EVANS: Who is that narcissistic not to want people that are ultimately trying to make you look better talk to you? I mean, from what I heard, and I obviously never saw the email, but it was an email that went around that says, you know, don’t speak until spoken to like it’s the, you know, the Marines or something, you know what I mean? So I don’t know. Nick’s - listen, again, you gotta praise what he does on the football field.
EVANS: The guy’s an amazing football coach at the college level. How he gets it done isn’t my style of coaching or teaching. But ultimately, the guy’s got some ways about him that I’m just like, ‘Are you human?’ I think he might be a robot.
SEDANO: (laughing) Oh, you’ve just confirmed everything I’ve been saying for years, so I’m glad that you were able to do that.
On July 28, 2005, Greg Bedard of the PALM BEACH POST reported on the incident involving James that was described by Evans to Sedano during their Tuesday interview:
Dolphins guard Jeno James was carried through the Dolphins’ locker room on a stretcher and then airlifted to a local hospital late Wednesday night, vomiting and complaining of light-headedness after the second of two practices, according to two league sources.
One Dolphins player described the scene as “scary” and “shocking.”
Dolphins coach Nick Saban was asked Wednesday whether he thought his training camp was tough.
“I don’t really know,” Saban said. “This is the work that, as a staff, we prescribe in terms of what we need to do to be a well- conditioned team that can play with intangibles, for 60 minutes, that you need to have success.
“Winning games in the fourth quarter is important. I don’t think you can do that unless you are well- conditioned and have a lot of toughness. I don’t know if you can develop that without creating some adversity. We are not out here trying to make it more difficult than it needs to be.”
The next day, Carlos Frias of the PALM BEACH POST reported of the condition of James:
A stomach virus that has been going around and helped put offensive lineman Jeno James in the hospital also kept quarterback A.J. Feeley out of practice Thursday.
James, a 315-pound guard, already was ill when he pushed himself too hard in practice Wednesday night and collapsed, cornerback Reggie Howard said. James was rushed to Broward General Hospital, where he was treated for dehydration. He remained hospitalized Thursday night for observation.
Saban was at James’ bedside at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and found him “fine, talking” and eager to return to practice. But the Dolphins have not said when they expect him back.
“The first thing he does when you talk to him is apologize for not being able to answer the bell,” Saban said. “It’s amazing. He demonstrates everything you ever talk about in a football player in terms of toughness, work ethic, trying to do everything you want him to do.”
Several Dolphins said they saw James throwing up in the locker room before the second practice Wednesday then froze when they saw him lying on the ground as the medical staff treated him.
“It was frightening at first,” Howard said. “No one knew what was going on.”
On August 3, 2005, Andre C. Fernandez of the MIAMI HERALD reported that James had returned to the team:
Scary and painful.
Dolphins starting left guard Jeno James used those words Tuesday to describe his bout with heat exhaustion and a stomach virus that hospitalized him last week.
“Basically, I don’t remember that night too well,” said James, who was airlifted to Broward General Hospital after last Wednesday night’s practice. “That night I just had to get through that practice. I did make it, but after that I don’t remember. I think it was one of the hardest times I ever went through in my life as far as being sick like that.”
James said he thought a lot about former Minnesota Vikings star Korey Stringer while he was in the hospital and said he was grateful to be alive. Stringer died of complications from heat stroke in 2001.
On Tuesday, James watched practice and jogged at times on the sideline.
He said he was not going to rush his return.
“Right now I’m just trying to get strong again and be smart about this,” James said.
Finally, Jeff Darlington of the PALM BEACH POST reported that James had returned to full workouts on August 7, 2005:
Jeno James, who collapsed from a stomach virus July 27, participated in his first full workout since the incident. James has dressed for several practices, but he hadn’t begun participating in heavy team drills before Saturday.
At the end of his report on James’ return, Darlington noted:
Saban said the coaching staff consistently checks to make sure he remains in good health.
The audio of the Evans interview on The Jorge Sedano Show will be aired at 7:30 am ET Wednesday morning on 790 The Ticket in Miami.
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