When the lights went out at the Superdome during Super Bowl XLVII in February, the scene turned surreal but no true panic ever set in.
But toward the end of the game, San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree experienced a different kind of darkness, and the experience was enough to make the toughest of guys panic — and shed more light on the issue of head trauma in the NFL.
In an interview with NFL.com on Thursday, Crabtree said that after taking a hard hit from Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith in the fourth quarter, he temporarily lost vision.
“When the guy hit me, he hit me all in the face,” Crabtree said. “I’m not tripping. I’m not one to whine about nothing, but he hit me all in the face and I couldn’t really see after he hit me.”
Crabtree his vision returned prior to the next play, and added that he was not upset that no call was made on the play near the goal line on third down. When pushed to describe the aftermath of the hit further, Crabtree noted this wasn’t an isolated incident.
“They hit me, I really couldn’t see. . . . Then [my vision] just came back. It’s not concussion-like. When you get hit in football, it’s going to feel like you can’t see. It’s going to feel intense. But it snapped back. It happens all the time in football.”
After clawing back to within five points with a 23-3 run following the blackout early in the third quarter, the 49ers had the ball, second-and-goal at the Ravens’ 5-yard line in the game’s final two minutes. But three straight passes to Crabtree resulted in incompletions and Baltimore hung on for a 34-31 win after taking an intentional safety.
Crabtree finished the game with five catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.