Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett suffered what could be a career-threatening, injury during Sunday's 15-14 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Everett was admitted to Millard Fillmore Hospital with a cervical spine injury. Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said Everett went into surgery about 8 p.m. Sunday, but he didn't know whether Everett had shown any signs of movement since he was driven off the field in an ambulance.
The Bills provided no other details, but a source with knowledge of the situation told The News that Everett's surgeons removed bone chips from his third and fourth vertebrae.
There was word at the hospital late Sunday that Everett, 25, was out of surgery and in the intensive care area. He was said to be on a respirator.
A spokesman at the hospital declined to comment.
"He's had some sparse movement," Everett's agent Brian Overstreet told the Associated Press in a phone interview late Sunday.
"The next couple of days is going to be critical," said Overstreet, responding to a question about paralysis. "Our concern is for him to come out of this healthy and, hopefully, be able to walk again."
Overstreet said Everett came out of a "lengthy surgery" Sunday evening and the plan was for his mother, Patricia Dugas, to arrive from Texas today.
Word out of the Broncos' locker room was that Everett was paralyzed.
"We hear it's not good," Denver kicker Jason Elam said.
Everett went down after a collision with Denver's Domenik Hixon on the opening kickoff of the second half. Everett lowered his head into Hixon's chest to tackle Hixon and appeared to be knocked unconscious on contact before falling to the turf.
Everett seemed to regain consciousness, but had no movement in his extremities. He was placed on a backboard and stretcher with his head and body immobilized and was loaded into an ambulance near the Broncos' sideline.
Before Everett left the field, the Bills huddled near their sideline for a silent prayer for their fallen teammate, who was on the ground for about 15 minutes.
"We're very concerned," cornerback Terrence McGee said. "You always see guys get shaken up and you see some kind of movement. With him I was looking the whole time and I never saw him move. It's real hard to take. Hopefully everything will be all right."
Given the serious nature of Everett's condition, the loss was secondary in the minds of the players. "When we came in here after the game the first thing we thought of was Kevin," wide receiver Lee Evans said. "There are some things that are a little bigger than the game."
"Obviously, we lost the game, but Kevin is critical to our team," added tight end Robert Royal. "We love him. We want to stand by him. That was the first thing Coach Jauron said when we came into the locker room. Our prayers go out to Kevin and his family."
Safety Donte Whitner said the incident put the game in proper perspective.
"This is a physical game and guys get hurt, but you never want to see anybody have something like that happen to them," he said. "What happened to Kevin lets you know how easily everything can be taken away from you."
This injury adds another chapter in Everett's hard-luck NFL story. The 2005 third-round draft pick was robbed of his rookie season after tearing the anterior cruciate in his left knee during the Bills' first post-draft minicamp in April.
Although a groin injury briefly delayed his comeback a year later, he was back on the field for training camp.
But Everett's playing time last season diminished as he struggled to pick up the offense. He was expected to have a larger role this year.e-mail: email@example.com