|© Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports Dakota Ball only has nine fingers now because of a gun accident.|
Alabama defensive lineman Dakota Ball will not be able to play in his team’s College Football Playoff game against Washington on Saturday, and he has no one to blame but himself for that.
Ball, with his hand heavily bandaged, confessed to reporters on Thursday that he accidentally blew his own index finger off with a shotgun earlier this month. The accident happened when he was hunting and riding ATVs with his friend before bowl practices began.
“I shot my finger off with a 12-gauge shotgun,” Ball said, per Michael Casagrande of AL.com. “It’s completely gone. I shot it right at the knuckle and blew it off. I was tying a rope around the barrel and around the stock to keep the shotgun from falling out of my lap. I was tying rope around the barrel and it just went off. I didn’t have my hand on the trigger.”
Ball said he initially feared that he shot through his entire hand, but he realized what had happened when he looked down to see his index finger dangling by a piece of skin.
Doctors said there was no chance of saving it.
“At first it wasn’t painful but once we got to the hospital, that’s when it started hurting — when my adrenaline started wearing off,” Ball explained. “Then it got pretty bad. They had to go down and cut the bone out, two inches down.”
Ball was mostly a reserve player for Alabama, so he is unlikely to play football at the next level. He said he’ll continue to hunt in the future, though he will take extra precaution.
The senior did not unwrap his hand to show reporters, though we can imagine the damage probably looked very similar to this. That, kids, is why you don’t play with guns.
Dakota Ball on losing finger: 'No messing around' with guns
Alabama Crimson Tide senior defensive lineman Dakota Ball said he's learned a valuable lesson after accidentally shooting off one of his fingers earlier this month.
"You have to be as careful as possible with guns," Ball said Thursday. "No messing around."
Ball, whose left hand was heavily wrapped during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl media day, said he shot his index finger off with a 12-gauge shotgun while riding four-wheelers during a hunting trip Dec. 15.
"It's completely gone," Ball told reporters. "I shot it at the knuckle and blew it off.
"I was tying a rope around the barrel and around the stock to keep the shotgun from falling out of my lap. I was tying rope around the barrel, and it just went off. I didn't have my hand on the trigger.
"... I think I forgot to put the safety on, but I didn't have a finger on the trigger. But that doesn't matter. ... I love guns, but I'll take a break from them for a little bit."
Ball, who will not play against the Washington Huskies in the College Football Playoff semifinal game, said doctors stapled the wound shut and he was released from the hospital the next day. In addition to playing on special teams, he had 12 tackles and a half-sack as a reserve this season.
"Am I worried about football? No," Ball told reporters. "I'm just worried about my hand healing. If I can play in the next game, like special teams. I'll do it. But I'm not going to worry about it, really."
Alabama's Dakota Ball blew off his own index finger with a shotgun
Dakota Ball doesn't necessarily stand out among Alabama's crop of star defensive players, but the injury that will keep him out of Saturday's Peach Bowl certainly does.
The senior defensive lineman arrived at media day in Atlanta on Thursday with his left hand heavily wrapped, and promptly told inquiring media members he recently shot off his own index finger with a 12-gauge shotgun while hunting.
"It's completely gone," he said, via teroes.com. "I shot it right at the knuckle and blew it off."
Ball explained that he and a buddy were four-wheeling near Calhoun, Ga., two weeks ago when he decided to tie a rope around the gun to keep it in his lap.
"I was tying rope around the barrel and it just went off," he said. "I didn't have my hand on the trigger."
Ball has 12 total tackles this season, and his football career likely is done — though he held out hope of possibly making a special teams appearance should Alabama advance to the national championship game.
As for reassessing his hobbies away from the field: "I love guns, but I'll take a break from them for a little bit."