Zia Combs Injury: 15 years ago

Submitted by UMfan21 on October 20th, 2017 at 3:19 PM

The name thread caused me to remember Zia.  He was a promising young defensive back.  Fifteen years ago last week his career came to an end versus Penn State.

I'm on the west coast and got to see the beginning of the game, this clip shows a replay but not in real time.  When Zia went limp and didn't get up, a teammate went over to try and pick him up.  Seeing his limp body hanging there was one of the most shocking images of Michigan football I have seared into my memory. 

I found this great update from MaizenBrew  from a few years ago.  Given the 15 year anniversarry and the fact it was against Penn State, it seemed worthy of recognition for Mr. Combs and his life beyond football.




October 20th, 2017 at 4:24 PM ^

You know, I remember being upset with Navarre's accuracy as a passer at times, but watching that, he threw some darts in this game.  (He even threw an accurate fade!)  

rob f

October 21st, 2017 at 5:21 AM ^

did start to question the call immediately before the following play started.

Unfortunately, due to this being a condensed version of the game, any further discussion ended up on the cutting floor. If the full-game version is available, you'd probably get those details.


October 20th, 2017 at 7:34 PM ^

Yep!  This video was courtesy of Wolverine Historian.  Among his comments:

3. This is one of those classic games where Penn State fans never bitched more about the refs screwing them over, they always favor Michigan, the Big 10 is out to get us, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. It doesn't matter that UM was penalized for more yards in this game and that PSU was the least penalized team in the conference in 02. It doesn't matter that PSU got away with bad calls all night like Brian Scott mugging Braylon Edwards and not getting flagged (14:13) or Zach Mills hiking the ball after the clock had run out and PSU not getting charged with delay of game in OT (23:45) or the bogus 1st down "catch" on 3rd and long by Bryant Johnson that wasn't a catch (22:05). I always figured the second Johnson catch was a makeup call. Both feet were in bounds but tivo shows that he was juggling the ball as he went down. So, whatever. We cheat, we're dirty, the refs love us, hate PSU, etc. No matter what you point out to prove them wrong, you will not win this debate with a Penn State fan. So just smile and nod and accept their ignorance.

snarling wolverine

October 20th, 2017 at 3:25 PM ^

Did I miss it, or does it not say what he's doing now?  (It does mention that he's married with a child.)

Speaking of that 2002 game, that one seems to get lost in the shuffle but was a great game in its own right.  First OT game in Big House history.  


October 20th, 2017 at 4:03 PM ^

It's an odd game. Both teams were good but not great. Personally, I've rarely been more relaxed about a game whose result was in such question.

That was because I was going to meet the father of my girlfriend for the first time the next day, and I was all kinds of nervous. Football suddenly seemed less important, except when Combs got hurt.

It worked out on my end; he's playing on the iPad with his grandkids in the room behind me right now, and we'll watch the game together tomorrow.

Bando Calrissian

October 20th, 2017 at 3:46 PM ^

I was in the lower rows of the student section for that one, looking right down the goal line. I'll never forget it. The sound of the hit, the way he immediately went limp... The eeriest thing of the whole deal was the equipment staff sending someone out after the fact to dig the screws from his facemask out of the turf, as they had to remove it to assess the injury. Everything about it was terrible.


October 20th, 2017 at 3:50 PM ^

I happened to sit next to Zia at graduation in '05 and he was super a friendly, genuinely happy guy. He told stories about the team and praised coach Carr as a great man. It was clear he was fully appreciating life after what could have been a very tragic incedent. It was great to see. 


October 20th, 2017 at 3:50 PM ^

Yeah, I faintly remember being at that game, thought I'll admit to not remembering the injury.  Glad to hear he is doing a bit better.  It's funny too - that's the type of play you sort of never expect will lead to an injury, but it ended a guy's career.


October 20th, 2017 at 3:52 PM ^

He was a player out of Kentucky where I have lived the past 28 years.  I was excited to see Michigan recruiting and plucking great players out of our state.


October 20th, 2017 at 5:21 PM ^

I was at the game and remember him getting injured, though the details escape me.  From a football standpoint it was dissapointing as Combs was starting to come into his own that year.