Drafted by the Buffalo Bills as a passcatching tight end, Kevin Everett’s career stats would seem disappointing: two catches for three yards.
But Everett has already entered the pantheon of National Football League heroes for doing what most athletes take for granted – walking. On Oct. 9, 2007, one month after falling paralyzed to the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf after a tackle, he took a few steps in a Houston Rehabilitation center.
Today, Everett makes his post-football television debut on “Oprah” to talk about his injury and recovery. “Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story,” a book about his ordeal, goes on sale Friday.
The slim 214-page soft-cover book confirms what Buffalo Bills fans and other Everett admirers already knew: The kid from Port Arthur, Texas, is a fine young man who has won the respect of athletic opponents on the field and medical professionals during his rehabilitation.
With his mother, Patricia Dugas, and girlfriend, Wianda Moore, supporting his every move, Everett defeated initial fears that he might not walk again. As of late December, Everett could stay on his feet for about an hour before tiring, reports Sam Carchidi, the Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter who authored “Standing Tall.”
Everett proposed to Moore during rehabilitation, and they are planning on five kids. Everett might open a restaurant, or go into coaching. “I’m just taking things as they come and focusing on my health and getting better,” Everett tells the author. “That’s the most important thing.”
For the football fan who already loves Kevin Everett, this is a book to add to your shelf. That said, there’s not nearly enough Kevin Everett in “Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story.”
Apparently the author had the time to reach just about every coach Everett played for, to relate their unanimous praise of Everett. There’s also a whole cast of friends, teammates, and other people who have suffered or witnessed spinal injuries. Having other spinal injury victims detail how they got hurt and their attempted rehabilitations seems like padding.
Most of Everett’s side is told through the eyes of his mother, his girlfriend and medical staff. His own voice is limited to relatively few pages of the book.
There are certainly touching moments aplenty, like the bond that Everett strikes up in his Houston rehabilitation center with Virgil Calhoun, a patient old enough to be his father. Calhoun challenged the struggling athlete to match the miles he just completed on the treadmill, and Everett responded in kind.
Talking trash and talking barbecue, the two men lifted each other’s spirits, and those of the people around them.
If you are a casual fan interested in learning about the medical miracle that allows Kevin Everett to walk today, you might be disappointed. Author Carchidi offers what is known about the Hypothermia treatment that was used to cool Everett’s spinal cord after his injury. But doctors involved in Everett’s treatment disagree about how much hypothermia should be credited for his recov- ery. Much research is needed before the cooling treatment can be instituted as a standard, the book’s experts say.
It’s not clear if the near-miracle Everett experienced can be reproduced in other people. That’s because almost no such injuries occur with a trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal injuries watching, waiting to start treatment immediately. Only days before Everett’s injury, Bills medical staff had drilled on precisely what to do in just such a calamity.
That doesn’t diminish anything that Everett, his support team, and doctors have accomplished. Details aside, the name of Kevin Everett will long be invoked whenever someone with a terrible injury needs a source of hope.
By Andrew Z. Galarneau – News Staff Reporter