Falcons DC Dean Pees stretched out after a pre-game collision
NEW ORLEANS — The Atlanta Falcons had what head coach Arthur Smith described as “a scary moment” before Sunday’s game when New Orleans Saints returnee Rashid Shaheed during a pregame warm-up with Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees collided.
The collision sent Pees falling backwards onto the turf around the 35-yard line. Medical staff and trainers surrounded Pees for several minutes before a wagon and stretcher entered the field. They worked to stabilize Pee’s neck before putting him on the cart to take him off the field.
Pees was treated and discharged from University Medical Center New Orleans and will fly back to Atlanta with the Falcons Sunday night, the team later said.
“We called her when we got back from the warm up, said our prayers for him and tried to update her and just be honest about the situation. Everyone in the stadium saw it,” Smith said. “A scary moment for him. Luckily the Saints doctors and our doctors did a hell of a job examining him and will continue to monitor him.
“I don’t think I’ve ever taken part in anything like this.”
Falcons safety Erik Harris was one of the players who screened Pees before he was taken off the field. Smith, general manager Terry Fontenot, team president Rick McKay and owner Arthur Blank were among the people who surrounded Pees after he fell to the ground.
Shaheed said after the Saints’ 21-18 win that he was sorry for what accidentally happened to Pees.
“I retreated to catch a punt and somehow encountered it,” Shaheed said. “…I never saw him. I was immediately super worried. But I found out that he’s back from the hospital, he’s healthy and doing well, so I’m grateful for that. I’m glad he’s doing well.
“If he sees that, I’m sorry.
When Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver and the other defensemen came onto the field, they saw a group around Pees on the floor and had no idea what had happened.
“It will definitely mess with your psyche [composure] a little,” said Oliver. “But more than anything, we didn’t really settle down on those first two rides. We just weren’t really committed to our details.
“It had more to do with us than anything else.”
Linebacker Mykal Walker said Smith told Team Pees he would be fine, but at first the news “spooked” him a little. Walker said he could check on Pees when he returned after being discharged from hospital.
Oliver said he didn’t think Pees’ situation had anything to do with the team’s poor defensive start on Sunday. The Falcons gave up touchdowns on the game’s first two drives, including a two-play drive for 73 yards. Linebackers coach Frank Bush was the defensive playcaller against the Saints on Sunday. Atlanta allowed 348 total yards (134 rushing, 214 passing) and 6.3 yards per game against New Orleans.
Pees, 73, is the NFL’s oldest defensive coordinator. He was with Atlanta for two seasons after coming out of retirement after the Falcons hired Smith. It’s not the first time Pees has had to be taken to the hospital from a game.
In 2018, Pees – then the Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator – was hospitalized after a medical issue in the first half of a game against the Indianapolis Colts.