For those of you who have been following the Detroit Lions for as long as I have, you remember vividly the day that offensive lineman Mike Utley suffered a spinal cord injury that ended his career.
In fact, the play happened 29 years ago today.
But what we did not know until now is that Utley nearly died in the hospital on Thanksgiving following the injury.
Here is what Utley told Bill Dow, Special to Detroit Free Press:
“I was in the intensive care unit for the first nine days, in a step-down unit for three, and then on Thanksgiving night I was back in the ICU for 10 more days. My teammates Ken Dallafior, Eric Andolsek, and Shawn Bowens, all big lineman pretty similar to my size, were brought to the hospital to be used as models for creating my body cast. I felt bad and am sorry I put them through that. On Thanksgiving, the Lions had a television brought in so I could watch the game with my brothers and a close friend. They snuck in pizza for me and we got a little rowdy. That night, it was discovered that I had two blood clots and was rushed back into the ICU. At one point, they brought my brothers back in and I was given last rites. Almost kicked the bucket then. But I’m not the type to cry about it or piss on the campfire and then complain how cold it is. I move on very quickly. “
Thank God that Utley, who is now 54-years-old, made it through what must have been a very scary situation.