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Updated: September 16th, 2013 3:52pm
Mackey: If seizures have no negative impact, Kill should keep coaching

Mackey: If seizures have no negative impact, Kill should keep coaching

by Phil Mackey

Having put a considerable amount of thought into the Jerry Kill conversation over the past two days, I believe there are two important questions to answer when determining Kill's short- and long-term future as Gophers football coach:

1.) Does Kill's health condition have a negative impact, in any way, on other Gopher football stakeholders (stakeholders defined as players, assistants, boosters, fans, recruits, etc.)?

2.) Can an epileptic coach who has seizures at least on a semi-regular basis -- sometimes during games, perhaps during practices -- still lead a Big 10 football team to success (however the relevant parties define "success")?

If it can be determined Kill's health condition has no negative impact on the program, and if all parties agree the program is headed in the right direction despite some of Kill's health speed bumps, then it seems there is no reason to question whether Kill should continue coaching.

Keep coaching.

When will we have definitive answers to the above questions? I have no idea. Obviously not today.

There are, of course, secondary questions about whether or not coaching in the booth or limiting duties during the week would help prevent seizures. Those questions are for more qualified people to answer.

Late Saturday evening, I posted an article that - to summarize - said Kill's latest epileptic seizure warrants further discussion about his health status and how it may or may not affect various aspects of his job as a Big 10 football coach. Some potentially uncomfortable questions might need to be asked.

In that article, I said, Personally, I have enjoyed Kill as a person in our interactions, I like Kill as a coach to this point, and I think he has the program on the right track. His recent willingness to open up about his epilepsy and to help spread the word and raise money is noble and admirable... I am, by no means, suggesting Jerry Kill should step down or be asked to stop coaching... I am suggesting that Saturday's episode warrants further discussion.

I was surprised to see a lot of black-and-white feedback via Twitter and email. "Kill should step down." Or, "you are ignorant and know nothing about epilepsy if you think this is even a discussion."

There are two groups of people who limit the productivity of this conversation: The people who say, "Kill should step down," without any supporting evidence as to why.

And also, the people who say, "You are prejudiced and insensitive for wanting to discuss whether Kill's condition affects the program." No. It's never prejudiced or insensitive to hold productive discussions. 

The Kill health situation isn't "should Christian Ponder start for the Vikings next week?" It's a complicated, nuanced topic.

A topic we don't necessarily have all the answers to.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd