Day, asked to detail the discussions that took place among the coaches, doctors and trainers about whether Fields could continue against Clemson, said the medical people “diagnose what happened and then make the decision on whether he’s able to go back in the game — that’s what happened here.” He added that Fields’s feedback was considered, too.
Asked how he evaluated whether Fields could protect himself from further injury, Day said, “That’s up to our medical people.”
Ultimately, though, each coach must decide whether he wants a player in a game.
A coach from a major conference, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not familiar with Fields’s medical condition, said a crucial standard is whether playing could cause additional injury or merely pain.
“You have to make sure the doctors can say: ‘Hey, there’s nothing he can do to really hurt himself. Can he just endure the pain?’” the coach said. “Sometimes there are injuries that are like that.”
Fields, though, said the injury caused him to take a longer stride to ease the pain in his torso. “You might not have all of the body parts working like you would, I guess, want them to,” he said. “You would have to alter another thing to get the ball where it needs to go.”
That could be troubling to some — Dizzy Dean, the Hall of Fame pitcher who wrecked his arm while trying to pitch with a broken toe, has long been a cautionary tale in that sport — but it probably means little to Fields, who has gone to extraordinary lengths to play this season.
He was the face of a campaign to get the Big Ten presidents to reverse course after they voted in August to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, starting an online petition that generated more than 300,000 signatures. As the signatures mounted, the Ohio State team doctor, James Borchers, made the case in front of the presidents that football could return safely.