The Concussion That Almost Stopped Wilbert's Famous Run

Eagles Wilbert Montgomery leaves a New York Giant defender behind as he takes pass and runs for five yards on Monday, Sept. 23, 1980 in game at Philadelphia. Montgomery was game?s leading rusher with 87 yards and picked up 67 yards from passes. Eagles won 35-3. (AP Photo/Murray)

It’s one of the most famous plays in Eagles history.

"I Right Slot Split 46 Slant."

Wilbert Montgomery’s 42-yard touchdown run against the Cowboys in the 1980 NFC Championship Game.

And if we knew then about concussions and their long-term effects what we know now, it never would have happened because Wilbert never would have played in that game.

Montgomery rushed for 194 yards that day in the Eagles’ 20-7 win over the Cowboys. Rushed for 194 yards just a few days after being knocked out cold in practice by teammate Richard Blackmore.

"I didn’t think I was going to play in the game," said Montgomery, who will be participating in his fourth Super Bowl game today – his third as an assistant coach. He is the Baltimore Ravens’ running backs coach.

To escape the frigid weather in Philadelphia, coach Dick Vermeil took his team down to Tampa to practice before the Dallas game. During one session, Montgomery collided with Blackmore, an Eagles defensive back.

Montgomery was knocked unconscious.

"Today, it’s called a concussion," he said. "Back then, they said I got my bell rung. I was out. Next thing I know, I’m in the locker room. I wasn’t thinking quite clearly. The remainder of the week I didn’t practice. So they didn’t think I was going to play on game day."

If that had happened today, he wouldn’t. He would have had to pass several concussion tests and then get cleared by an independent neurologist. Even if he had made a miraculous recovery, there wouldn’t have been enough time for all of that to happen.

In fact, Montgomery didn’t start that game. His backup, Louie Giammona, did.

"The first two plays, Louis was the starting halfback," Montgomery said. "I came out of the tunnel and was standing next to Coach V (Dick Vermeil) on the second play of the game and told him I was ready to go. He said, 'Alright, go in.

"Next thing I know, Ron (Jaworski) called "46 slant." I started off to the left. (Left tackle) Stan (Walters) took out Too Tall (Jones). Petey (Perot, the left guard) X’d Randy White out and I was off and running. They made it easy. They did all the hard work. I just ran through the hole they made for me. It was a great win."