"My body went numb. It felt like he ran straight through me."
Kevin Everett raced down the field to start the second half of the Buffalo Bills season opener against the Denver Broncos on September 9, 2007. He was at full speed, having run untouched through the Broncos kickoff return unit when he slammed into returner Domenik Hixon. Everett fell hard to the turf, his arms never extending to cushion his fall, and began to twitch on the turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium. When Bills trainers arrived at his side, they immediately knew what they had to do when Dr. Andrew Cappuccino informed them, "We're in spinal-cord drill."
Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story by Sam Carchidi details the tight end's upbringing and initial stages of his recovery. Family and faith are at the center of the story, which details Everett's upbringing by his single mother and maternal grandfather, his hard work at junior college striving to make it to a four-year school, as well as his career at the University of Miami. At Miami, Everett met a girl, Wiande Moore, that he would eventually marry, and who shares Kevin's faith and his athletic ambitions.
Moore's daily one- or two-paragraph journal entries make up a large portion of the book. These snippets are melded into the book's narrative along with interviews of Kevin, his mother, Moore, and many of his doctors and recovery team members. Many Buffalo Bills players, including college and pro teammate Roscoe Parrish and fellow tight end Robert Royal, as well as Bills executives including owner Ralph Wilson, lend their voice to the team's perspective on the injury and the after effects.
Receiving the most credit for the amazing recovery (outside of Everett himself) is Dr. Cappuccino, the Bills' staff orthopedist. Having recently attended a Miami Project clinic on the use of hypothermia in spinal chord injuries, Dr. Cappuccino discusses the immediate process in the ambulance of cooling Everett's blood as well as the decision to travel an extra mile to Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital. The medical team was divided on using hypothermia during Everett's recovery, but when the tight end started developing a fever soon after surgery, the decision was made to mildly cool his entire body to 93.8 degrees. After initially giving Kevin only a 5% chance to walk, he took his first step a month after the injury.
Other football players recovering from spinal cord injuries, including Citadel star Marc Buoniconti and Penn State's Adam Taliaferro (whom Carchidi also profiled in Miracle in the Making: The Adam Taliaferro Story), speak about Kevin's tremendous recovery.
The main criticism I have is the author repeats himself frequently in the book. I read it over a 24-hour period and the exact repetition of information was apparent. Instead of flowing on a narrative line, the story bounced from location to location and perspective to perspective, resulting in the overuse of certain quotes and facts. The first time I read each piece of information, it struck an emotional chord, but by the second or third time it had lost its luster.
I would recommend the book to any Buffalo Bills fan who appreciates or can get past the numerous references to faith and God. The sheer volume of these references are enough to turn some people off entirely. And for a penny plus shipping at Amazon, it's definitely worth your time.