|Shy and reserved, injured Bills tight end Kevin Everett has fans around the country|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 13 September 2007 12:32|
Friends, fans, teammates and coaches - from his native Port Arthur, Texas, to his adopted hometown of Buffalo, and from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to ex-teammate Frank Gore - are voicing their support for the injured Buffalo Bills tight end, who's showing signs of regaining movement after sustaining a life-threatening spinal cord injury last Sunday.
Bills punter Brian Moorman says he knows why there has been a flood of well-wishers - including Goodell on Thursday - for a player who shunned the spotlight.
``He's just every guy's teammate,'' Moorman said. ``He's got such a great character, and it's obvious. He's not a man of many words, but he doesn't need to speak by words. When I saw him in the hospital, you can see his concern for us in his eyes.''
``And you're wondering, 'How can he be thinking about us at this time?''' Moorman added. ``He's a very inspiring individual.''
Everett's just following his mother's advice.
``I always told him when he was a little boy: 'You show them better than you can tell them,'' Patricia Dugas said.
It's a life lesson Everett clearly took to heart.
Just ask Kenny Harrison, who coached Everett in high school and was impressed after the player hosted a football camp in Port Arthur in July. Everett charged no admission, handed out T-shirts and made sure every youngster had a ride to and from camp.
``He'd give you his last,'' said Harrison, offensive coordinator at Port Arthur Memorial High. ``His biggest deal was making sure every kid that wanted to be a part the camp was able to be a part of it, no exception.''
Or how about the impression Everett made on Laurie Hampshire, Memorial's athletic director, when she bumped into him during a trip to New York City last winter.
``He stopped and hugged me, and I hadn't seen him in a long time,'' Hampshire said. ``He is the sweetest, kindest-hearted person I've ever, ever met.''
The injury, while devastating, has brought Everett's strong character to the spotlight at a time when NFL headlines have been dominated by negative stories.
Here's someone who once wanted to play basketball but was coaxed into giving football a chance when he arrived at high school nine years ago. After two seasons at Kilgore Junior College in Texas, he spent two years at Miami and was selected by Buffalo in the third round of the 2005 draft.
His career was sidetracked by a knee injury that forced him to miss his entire rookie season in Buffalo, but Everett was excited about his chances to contribute this year, bragging about it to several friends.
``For me personally, it is difficult to put into words the depth of my concern I feel toward this courageous young man,'' Bills owner Ralph Wilson said. ``I will remain optimistic for Kevin in the days ahead, and I encourage everyone to keep Kevin in your thoughts and prayers.''
Everett was hurt after ducking his head while tackling the Denver Broncos' Domenik Hixon during the second-half kickoff of the Bills' season opener. He dropped face-first to the ground after his helmet hit Hixon high on the left shoulder and side of the helmet.
Unable to move his body below his neck when he arrived at Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital, Everett's recovery has been surprising doctors.
Except for his hands, he's been able to move numerous body parts. He can feel sensations across his body and is alert and conscious.
Doctors stress that the player still has a long way to go in his recovery, but they're expressing cautious optimism that he might one day walk again.
That's encouraging news.
``He could have lost his life,'' said running back Gore, the San Francisco 49er and Everett's former teammate at the University of Miami, who spent part of this summer hanging out with Everett in south Florida. ``I'm just happy everything is all right for him, and I'll just keep praying that he'll get better and better.''
Everett's former position coach at Miami, Mario Cristobal, expressed relief, but not surprise at the latest developments.
``He's a different bird, a real, real, tough physical and intense son of a gun,'' said Cristobal, head coach at Florida International. ``Knowing Kevin's makeup - what he has for a heart and for guts - he's a young man who will heal and will walk again. ... He'll be a strong man once again, and he'll make us all proud.''
Associated Press Sports Writers Greg Beacham in San Francisco and Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.