Sports

Former Duke TE rants on Twitter about culture of football, death of Maryland player

Duke tight end Braxton Deaver, middle, gets ready to run a drill in 2015.
Duke tight end Braxton Deaver, middle, gets ready to run a drill in 2015. cseward@newsobserver.com

Braxton Deaver, a former Duke tight end, posted a series of Tweets on Wednesday discussing his concerns about the culture of football and the death of Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old Maryland offensive lineman who died in June from heatstroke weeks after falling ill during practice.

ESPN last week published a story that alleges verbal and physical abuse by the Maryland coaching staff.

On Tuesday, Maryland President Wallace Loh said during a press conference that the university “accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes” its athletic training staff made during the May 29 workout that led to McNair’s death on June 13.

Maryland strength coach Rick Court resigned on Monday. Football coach D.J. Durkin is on administrative leave while an external investigation of his program is under way.

Deaver, who missed two seasons due to injuries during his Duke career from 2010-15, said in a phone interview with The News & Observer on Wednesday afternoon, that he went through what he feels now were dangerous conditioning drills prior to his arrival at Duke and he felt he could no longer be silent.

“Working from 8 to 18 (years old), there were points to conditioning that were lethal,” Deaver, now 26, said.

But that’s the gray area of the sport, he said. Players need to be pushed to perform their best.

“The culture of football has been hyper-masculine and savage since the beginning of time,” Deaver said. “It creates dangerous situations.”

He said Duke’s culture was one of togetherness so that what occurred at Maryland wouldn’t happen in Durham. If a teammate fell out in a conditioning drill, like McNair did at Maryland, Deaver said every player would run to his aid. That stemmed from Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who Deaver said he sees as “a second father” because he pushed him hard but did so with care in mind.

Here’s what Deaver tweeted about McNair and his thoughts about football.



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