Don Heupel / AP
A trainer, center, helps Buffalo Bills' Kevin Everett after he was injured.
Football's $1,000 Helmet
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The life threatening spinal-cord injury that Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett suffered on Sunday while trying to make a tackle adds urgency to a question that gnaws at the NFL with each passing season — is playing pro football worth the risks?
Everett, 25, remains sedated and on a respirator at Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital in Buffalo following surgery to relieve the pressure on his spine. His orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Andrew Cappucino, had said Everett's chances of walking again are "bleak or dismal." However, after Everett voluntarily moved his arms and legs on Tuesday, Cappuccino reportedly told a Buffalo TV station "we may be witnessing a minor miracle."
It's only the first week of the season, but already the list of injured players is growing. Both New York quarterbacks — Eli Manning of the Giants and Chad Pennington of the Jets — may miss games because of shoulder and ankle injuries, respectively. Orlando Pace, the all-pro offensive lineman from the St. Louis Rams, tore the labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder. He will miss the season. A steady stream of injuries marred Cincinnati's thrilling 27-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens Monday night: about a dozen Ravens visited the team doctor Tuesday morning for treatment.
None, however, compare to Everett's tragic injury. The third-year Bill suffered a fracture and disclocation of his spine, in which the C3 and C4 vertebrae in his spinal cord were telescoped when he went in to tackle the Broncos' Domenik Hixon on a kickoff return. Everett's helmeted head made contact with the hard plastic of Hixon's shoulder pad, and he immediately dropped to the ground, his spinal cord shocked by the impact. "He had a compressive load to his spine, and the spine doesn't handle those kinds of loads very well," says Dr. Joseph...
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