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PRO FOOTBALL
Jill Lieber
October 13, 1986
After an unusually humid late afternoon game against the Jets on Sept. 28 in Indianapolis, Colts tackle Kevin Call crumbled to the floor of the locker room with a severe case of cramps due to dehydration. "It never happened to me before," says Call, who is 6'7", 288 pounds. "All my muscles cramped up. It started in my legs, went to my stomach and then to my neck. It really scared me. The trainers started rubbing me with ice and I started to relax some." Call was hooked up to an intravenous bag filled with glucose, sodium, potassium and other electrolytes, to quickly replace the fluids he had lost.
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October 13, 1986

Pro Football

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QUICK COUNT

The Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins game this Sunday is one of the most famed rivalries in pro football. However, it is a relatively new matchup—the teams first met in 1960—and it is not that competitive: Dallas leads the series 30-20-2. Here are the 15 most competitive rivalries in the NFL (50 or more meetings):

LEADER-OPPONENT

RECORD

FIRST GAME

NY Jets-Buffalo

27-26-0

1960

Minnesota-Green Bay

25-24-1

1961

LA Rams-Detroit

36-34-1

1937

San Diego-Kansas City

26-24-1

1960

Minnesota-Chicago

25-23-2

1961

San Diego-Denver

27-24-1

1960

Detroit-San Francisco

26-23-1

1950

LA Rams-Green Bay

39-34-2

1937

St. Louis-Philadelphia

40-34-4

1935

Green Bay-Detroit

57-47-7

1930

New England-Buffalo

28-23-1

1960

NY Giants-Philadelphia

56-45-2

1933

NY Giants-Washington

58-46-3

1932

NY Jets-New England

29-23-1

1960

Chicago-Green Bay

71-55-6

1921

After an unusually humid late afternoon game against the Jets on Sept. 28 in Indianapolis, Colts tackle Kevin Call crumbled to the floor of the locker room with a severe case of cramps due to dehydration. "It never happened to me before," says Call, who is 6'7", 288 pounds. "All my muscles cramped up. It started in my legs, went to my stomach and then to my neck. It really scared me. The trainers started rubbing me with ice and I started to relax some." Call was hooked up to an intravenous bag filled with glucose, sodium, potassium and other electrolytes, to quickly replace the fluids he had lost.

By halftime in Atlanta's 37-35 win over Dallas on Sept. 21, five Falcons had ended up on tables in the locker room with IV bags attached to their arms. The temperature on the Texas Stadium field: 130°. "The locker room looked like a M*A*S*H hospital," says Charles Harrison, the Falcons' team physician.

On the plane ride home, three Falcons sat in their seats, IVs dangling overhead. "You just bend a coat hanger, hang the bottle and let 'er rip," Harrison says.

The use of IV fluids after an extremely hot, humid game is not new; almost every team trainer travels with IV bags. It's just that the procedure is getting a lot more publicity. "We beat Dallas," says Atlanta offensive tackle Mike Kenn, "so everybody figures it was because of the IVs."

When an athlete gets to the point of heat exhaustion—signs include ashen skin, nausea, dizziness and cramps—he must quickly replace the fluids and electrolytes he has lost. It is not unusual to see road racers and marathon runners using IVs after competition. Football players, particularly those who play in the South, are common casualties of the heat. The Saints used 100 liters of IV solution during training camp this summer.

"Football players not only carry around 20 pounds worth of equipment, but more of their body surface is covered than any other athlete," says Charles Virgin, the Dolphins' team doctor. "Only their face, neck and part of their forearms are exposed. Their helmets trap the heat, thus keeping their internal cooling systems from functioning."

Particularly vulnerable to overheating are offensive linemen, who may lose as much as 15 pounds of water weight in a three-hour game, and defensive backs, who run more than any other players.

Doctors agree that the best way to replace body fluids is by drinking water or special electrolyte-mineral solutions. But, Harrison says, "sometimes players just can't drink that much fast enough," so the doctor administers an IV.

Virgin, however, cautions against using IVs casually. "Only where medical circumstances warrant it," he says. "Generally speaking, through proper instruction you should be able to prevent players from getting to that point.

"We go through about 800 pounds of ice each home game. We wrap the players' feet, necks and faces in iced towels. We teach them how to keep cool—to up their intake of fluids the week prior to the game, to refrain from alcohol two days before. And we remind them continuously on the sidelines to drink fluids."

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