Sep. 10th, 2007

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Kevin Everett sustained a "catastrophic" and life-threatening spinal-cord injury while trying to make a tackle during the Buffalo Bills' season opener and is unlikely to walk again, the surgeon who operated on him Monday said.

"A best-case scenario is full recovery, but not likely," orthopedic surgeon Andrew Cappuccino said. "I believe there will be some permanent neurologic deficit."


Bills punter Brian Moorman immediately feared the worst when Everett showed no signs of movement as he was placed on a backboard and, with his head and body immobilized, carefully loaded into an ambulance.

"It brought tears to my eyes," Moorman said after practice. He said the sight of Everett's motionless body brought back memories of Mike Utley, the former Detroit Lions guard, who was paralyzed below the chest after injuring his neck in a collision during a 1991 game.

I wrote the AP story about Mike Utley's injury - it was the second Lions game I had covered. That was almost 16 years ago, and I still remember it as if it were yesterday - sitting in the press box at the Silverdome saying to myself "Move your legs, Mike. Move your legs."

Covering Reggie Brown's neck injury in 1998 was even worse. Reggie stopped breathing and needed mouth-to-mouth on the field, and he was still unconscious when they took him off the field in an ambulance. I had to get up and walk out of the press box at one point - there was nearly a 20-minute delay while they worked on him.

Reggie, though, made a complete recovery. A few days later, he got up and walked to the podium at a press conference, and there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

I think about those two games every time I see a player sustaining a head or neck injury. Nearly all of them end up not being as bad as they looked, but it doesn't look like Kevin Everett is going to be that lucky.

It's a brutal, vicious game. I'm amazed that more players don't get hurt like this.


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