In Play with Tom Markowski

Parents, professional athletes team to create awareness as football-related injuries and deaths continue in high school sports

Football   | Tom Markowski

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Farmington Hills – Quarterback Anthony Giovanni of Farmington Hills Harrison said he’ll likely wear the EvoShield every time he’s on the field.

His decision to do so nearly came a little late.

On Oct. 13 Giovanni was one of 85 football players in Harrison’s program, which includes all three levels, to receive, free of charge, the EvoShield, a lightweight protective device a player wears inside a shirt around his or her ribs that’s designed to prevent serious internal injuries.

“It was in the first game,” Giovanni said. “I got hit in the back of the ribs. It wasn’t a bad injury but I did have to come out.”

Giovanni was blessed. Many like him are on the receiving end of hard-hitting tackles by players who weigh 30, 60 or 90 pounds more. Whether players lead with their helmet or should pads, a blow to the rib cage or slightly below can cause serious injury.

Others, like Taylor Haugen and Evan Murray, weren’t as fortunate.

Haugen died on Aug. 30, 2008. He was a 15-year-old sophomore receiver on the junior varsity team at Niceville (FL) High. Haugen went up to make a catch and was hit by two defensive players. Moments later he collapsed on the sidelines. Later that day died from severe internal injuries to his liver.

Two years later, after learning about two similar injuries near Niceville, Bryan and Kathy Haugen, Taylor’s parents, started t