Everett may not walk again, according to Dr.

Sep 10, 2007 - 10:07 PM Special to PA SportsTicker

ORCHARD PARK, New York (Ticker) - Buffalo Bills reserve tight end Kevin Everett may not walk again after suffering a "potentially lethal injury" in the season-opening game against the Denver Broncos.

That was the verdict of his surgeon, Dr Andrew Cappuccino, on Monday.

The 25-year-old Everett had emergency neck surgery, which lasted four hours, at Millard Fillmore Hospital on Sunday.

Dr Cappuccino, who is caring for the player, said he had told Everett "the chance of making a full neurological recovery are bleak."

He added that the chances of the player walking again are "very slim".

Everett was taken off the field on a stretcher after colliding with Broncos returner Domenik Hixon during the second-half kickoff.

Dr Cappuccino said at a press conference Monday that: "We commenced resuscitation in the ambulance. We commenced flushing his body with cold fluids to lower his temperature. Time was of the essence.

"Urgent decompressive surgery was needed. It's an incomplete spinal cord injury; some (vertebrae) are injured, some can be spared. We don't know if the injury will expand, our job is to make sure it retracts, not expands."

To combat swelling, Everett has been placed in a restricted state.

"(After the operation) he was taken to intensive care and was on a respirator and, as we speak, is still on the respirator," Dr. Cappuccino said. "He has been provided with every mechanism to allow the swelling to go down in his spinal cord. He is not in a coma, but a deeply drug-induced state."

The rapid response by the medical team has led to some encouraging early signs.

"He was assessed neurologically this morning and he had the ability to feel all his limbs," Dr. Cappuccino said. "This young man suffered a potentially lethal injury. He will be controlled for 48-72 hours. It was a potentially catastrophic injury."

Asked if Everett was out of danger of losing his life, Dr. Cappuccino said: "He is not out of that danger - he is less in that danger. Any injury at this level often can lead to respiratory collapse. You can die from respiratory failure."

Dr Cappuccino outlined the current concerns.

"Blood clotting that could go to the lungs or heart, infection, and pneumonia are the most grave concerns," he said. "I am an optimist. A best-case scenario would be a complete recovery; not likely. A timeframe would be many months."

He said there was a real possibility Everett could need respiratory support for an extended period of time, although he did not anticipate further surgery.

Bills team doctor John Marzo said at the press conference: "Kevin suffered a contact injury, striking a player while making a tackle. When we arrived he was conscious and alert but unable to move his extremities. We began rehearsed protocols for extricating a player with that sort of injury.

"We were careful in positioning Kevin and immobilizing him on a spineboard. He underwent urgent imaging studies which confirmed our fears of a fractured dislocation of the cervical spine and injury to the spinal chord."

Earlier, Bills coach Dick Jauron said the team was hoping and praying Everett fully recovers.

"We are anticipating the best outcome and our thoughts are with him," Jauron said at a press conference.

"We are never forgetting Kevin and we are never getting him out of our thoughts and prayers. You do go on, you do move forward, without him leaving your thoughts. They are a solid group of guys, they like each other, they work hard, they play hard. It is part of the game and we all understand it."

It appeared to be a freak injury for Everett, who slammed into Hixon as the return man hit the wedge and broke his tackle.

Everett immediately fell to the turf and appeared to lose consciousness before being transported off the field by ambulance.

"It was a difficult day regarding Kevin's injury and how that affects everyone in the stadium and our team," Jauron added. "Our thoughts are with Kevin and his family. Kevin understands that and it is what Kevin chooses to do too. One of the great things is that when you have a team you have a real closeness. It grows through time and there is a risk involved.

"It is a dangerous game and we saw that. It happened right in front of us. We are hoping for the best outcome here."

A third-round pick out of Miami in 2005, the 6-4, 253-yard Everett missed that entire first season with a knee injury.

In 2006, Everett played primarily on special teams. He has just one career reception for one yard.

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