ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- 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 said Monday.
"A best-case scenario is full recovery, but not likely,"
orthopedic surgeon Andrew Cappuccino said. "I believe there will
be some permanent neurologic deficit."
Everett was hurt Sunday after he ducked his head while tackling
the Denver Broncos' Domenik Hixon during the second-half kickoff.
Everett dropped face-first to the ground after his helmet hit Hixon
high on the left shoulder and side of the helmet.
Cappuccino noted the 25-year-old reserve tight end did have
touch sensation throughout his body and also showed signs of
movement. But he cautioned that Everett's injury was
life-threatening because he was still susceptible to blood clots,
infection and breathing failure.
Everett is in the intensive care unit of Buffalo's Millard
Fillmore Gates Hospital, where he is under sedation and breathing
through a respirator as doctors wait for the swelling to lessen.
Cappuccino said it will take up to three days to determine the
severity of the injury and the recovery process.
Cappuccino repaired a break between the third and fourth
vertebrae and also alleviated the pressure on the spinal cord. In
reconstructing his spine, doctors made a bone graft and inserted a
plate, held in by four screws, and also inserted two small rods,
held in place by another four screws.
Doctors, however, weren't able to repair all the damage.
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
"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
Utley, Moorman recalled, at least was able to give what's become
a famous "thumbs up" sign as he was taken off the field. Everett
"That's what I was waiting for, and that's what everybody else
was waiting for," Moorman said. "And to have to walk back to the
sideline and not see that made for a tough time."
Utley, who lives in Washington state, was saddened to see
replays of Everett's collision.
"I'm sorry this young man got hurt," Utley told The AP. "It
wasn't a cheap shot. It was a great form tackle and that's it."
Cappuccino said Everett was alert and aware of the extent of his
"I told Kevin that the chances for a full neurologic recovery
were bleak, dismal," said Cappuccino, who works for the Bills as a
consultant, specializing in spinal surgery. "I was honest with
him, and he told me, 'Do everything you can to help me.' "
Cappuccino received permission to operate from Everett's mother,
Patricia Dugas, who spoke by phone from her home in Houston. She
and other family members arrived in Buffalo on Monday. Everett was
born in Port Arthur, Texas, and played high school football there.
Buffalo's 2005 third-round draft pick out of Miami, Everett
missed his rookie season because of a knee injury. He spent most of
last year playing special teams. He was hoping to make an impact as
The Bills now attempt to refocus while preparing to play at
Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"It's difficult because you know the situation," said running
back Anthony Thomas, one of Everett's best friends on the team.
"We have to move on. But he'll always be in our thoughts and in
Quarterback J.P. Losman said it was difficult to concentrate
"It seems like every couple of seconds that go by it's always
popping into your head," Losman said. "Going through a
walk-through, we're looking for him, wanting to hear his voice."
Coach Dick Jauron said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called him
Sunday evening, offering the league's support.
"We honor ourselves by our work, and we honor Kevin by moving
forward and working while never forgetting Kevin and never getting
him out of our thoughts and prayers," Jauron said. "We're going
to wait and see what the outcome is here and we're really hoping
and praying for the best."
Everett, who was on placed injured reserve Monday, was not the only injury sustained by the Bills.
Cornerback Jason Webster (broken forearm) and free safety Ko Simpson (broken ankle) had surgery, and Jauron said both could miss the rest of the season. Also, linebacker Coy Wire has a sprained knee and is out indefinitely.