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Updated: August 19th, 2010 1:07pm
Percy Harvin collapses, leaves in ambulance after migraine 'episode'

Percy Harvin collapses, leaves in ambulance after migraine 'episode'

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin left the practice field in an ambulance early Thursday afternoon after having what coach Brad Childress described as an "episode" related to his chronic migraine headaches.

According to Childress, the incident started during a pre-practice special teams session, when Harvin looked into the sky to see a punt, experienced a migraine and went inside for a time.

"Came back out and had an episode," Childress said. "I don't know how to classify it. Not really a seizure, but he had some trouble over here. I'd be remiss if I try to qualify it one way or the other."

Harvin, who also missed most of training camp in part because of migraines, went down on all fours shortly after returning to the practice field around 12:10 p.m. and appeared unstable. By 12:20, Harvin was flat on his back as team doctors and trainers surrounded him to provide treatment.

An EMT soon arrived and players -- practice had stopped after the installation period, leaving running backs and tight ends on one field with Harvin and the rest of the team on another -- formed a human wall to shield the scene from reporters.

"As we say, those things can be debilitating," Childress said. "Obviously, that one hit and it hit hard, and it's always scary for all of our guys when you see a teammate struggling with whatever."

Childress said Harvin was trembling, disoriented and for a time was "a little bit unresponsive." Head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman and Dr. Sheldon Burns -- who examined Harvin after his earlier migraine -- rode with Harvin to a nearby hospital.

This marked at least the second time Harvin has gone to the hospital because of migraine episode, according to Childress. It also happened during his junior year at the University of Florida.

"I'm putting it in the migraine category, just because of what preceded that," Childress said. "But I certainly don't know what put him down on the ground over there -- if it was some kind of reaction. Again, they'll work him up, I'm sure, at the hospital."

Players gathered for a prayer and then went through 10 plays of 11-on-11 work, which Childress said was quarterback Brett Favre's idea. The vibe was quiet and the work was sloppy, including several dropped passes.

"Anytime you see that ambulance truck come in, you know it's a serious issue," linebacker Ben Leber said. "All of our hearts and our thoughts are with him and his family, and we're hoping that we'll get some good news here soon."

The ambulance left at 12:40 p.m., and practice ended for good at 12:41. It was a fairly mild, overcast day with temperatures in the 70s.

For any players who wondered about Harvin's two-plus-week absence, Thursday's incident provided a first-hand look at what the talented playmaker is dealing with.

"I think by this happening, it kind lets the team know exactly how hard it is," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. "A lot of times, it doesn't take place in front of us. Now, by people actually seeing it, they see it's really not a joke."

Childress said he'd seen Harvin experience a migraine before and at lease once pulled him off the field because of one, "but certainly, nothing to that magnitude."

Harvin missed one game and several chunks of practice time because of migraines during his standout rookie season in 2009, too. Between the issue and the death of his grandmother, he already had missed 21 practices since camp opened in late July and now seems likely to miss several more.

"We're going to have to deal with some form of adversity," Childress said. "Whether this is the first of many, I'm not sure. But it's not so much the adversity happens, it's how you react to it."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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