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[CHRON] Former Texans WR adjusts to life after injury

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by codell, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. codell

    codell Contributing Member

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    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/fb/texansfront/7082580.html

    End of playing days is only the beginning for Williams

    By RICHARD JUSTICE

    During the ambulance ride to the hospital, Harry Williams asked someone to phone his dad.

    He knew his parents back in Birmingham, Ala., had been watching the Texans-Cowboys preseason game that night in the summer of 2008. He knew they'd seen the play, seen him down on the field.

    He knew they would have noticed his lifeless arms and legs taped into place, seen him carted off the field and loaded into an ambulance.

    "My mama is like a lioness when it comes to her kids," Williams said. "No one messes with her kids. For her to see me like that, and for her to be so far away, I knew she was going crazy.

    "Somebody dialed the phone and held it to my ear. I asked Daddy, 'How is Mama doing?' He said, 'Not too good.'‚ÄČ"

    His dad asked the question he dreaded asking.

    "I can't feel nothing, Daddy," Williams said. "But, Daddy, don't tell Mama."

    He'd begun to cry as they loaded him into the ambulance, and almost two years later, some of it is still a blur. Williams is outgoing and talkative, one of those people who likes to laugh. To know him is to like him.

    But that night, he was more alone than he'd ever been in his young life. And beyond the tears and the fear, there was an inability to comprehend what was happening to him.

    He knew he had no feeling in his arms or legs. In a game filled with pain and injury, this was totally different. Williams, then a 26-year-old wide receiver for the Texans, felt nothing from the moment he collided with a teammate.

    "Everything just went black," he said. "I saw people running, but I couldn't move. I was in no pain. I just didn't know what was going on."

    He remembers a trainer asking, "Harry, can you breathe?" And Texans coach Gary Kubiak leaning over and whispering, "You're going to be all right."
    Answering the call

    Through the fog of tears and doubt, he began to pray.

    "Me and God have been through it," Williams said. "I told him, 'God, you said you wouldn't give me more than I can bear. I can't bear not being able to walk or do for myself.'

    "I know God wants you to come to him, and we'd argue. I'd ask for certain things, but I never asked him why. I just told him whatever he wants me to do, lead me to it. He led me to this, and this is where I'm going to change people's lives."

    On this steamy morning, we're standing on the football field at Prairie View A&M, where Williams, now 27, has put his life back together. He's a few months from graduating, working as a volunteer assistant coach and feeling optimistic about life.

    "Sometimes you're going to fall down," he said, "but you've got to get back up. Everything in life won't happen like you planned it."

    He's back in school because Texans owner Bob McNair insisted on it. McNair told Williams he absolutely had to finish his degree and that he was going to pay for it.

    "That was the first thing he said when he saw me," Williams said. "I saw him a week later, and he reminded me. He told me to find a college and let his secretary know where. Mr. McNair is why I'm here. Does that tell you what kind of man he is?"


    Williams' football career ended that night in Dallas. By the time he drifted off to sleep, still in uniform, he was regaining feeling in his arms and legs. He woke up the next morning to see his parents standing at his bedside.

    "The Texans did that," he said. "They got my parents to Dallas on the next flight. I just can't tell you how great Mr. McNair and (general manager) Rick Smith were."

    A doctor told Williams he had a crushed vertebra and would be undergoing surgery the next day.

    "You're going to be OK," the doctor told him.

    Williams wanted to know if he could play football again.

    "No," the doctor said.

    A few days after the surgery, Williams realized how far he had to go when he gingerly stepped out of bed, placed his feet on the floor and, with a nurse holding onto each arm, began learning how to walk again.

    "I don't know if you'd call it walking," he said. "I shuffled one foot in front of the other. It was weeks before I could really walk straight."

    Williams eventually was transferred back to Houston to finish his rehabilitation, and if you saw him today, you might not know anything happened unless he showed you the 6-inch scar on the back of his neck.

    There are still days when the electrical impulses fire through his arms, still times when his neck is stiff and sore. He doesn't complain because he knows how close he came to something horrifying.

    Williams grew up in Birmingham, played wide receiver at Tuskegee and was drafted by the Jets in the seventh round of the 2005 draft.

    He laughs now when he thinks of those days at Tuskegee when NFL scouts would show up to watch practice.

    "They might not be there to see me, so I had to do something to catch their eye," he said. "I loved that. I loved that about football. If you were having a bad day, you could go in the weight room or out on the practice field and work all your frustrations out."
    Just another detour

    Williams played one game for the Jets before beginning an odyssey in which he signed with the Packers, Bears and Giants before the Texans called in 2006.

    He played a total of three NFL games, two with the Texans at the end of the 2007 season. In the days before he was injured, Kubiak said Williams had been the Texans' best special-teams player.

    Even as teams kept bouncing him from the roster, he never gave up. When the Giants cut him, coach Tom Coughlin told him, "Harry, you should not have gotten cut. You were caught in a numbers game. You're not finished, Harry Williams. Don't you give up."

    These days, it's the camaraderie with his teammates he misses most. He still keeps in touch with Jacoby Jones, Joel Dreesen, Andre Johnson and others, but it's not the same as being their teammate.

    "You meet some real good dudes out there," Williams said. "When you go to war with them, it creates friendships. I really miss that."

    He also understands he's among the luckiest people on earth and that there's something to be said for every day God grants him.

    "No doubt," he said. "This was what God had in mind for me. This is how I'm going to touch people."
     
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  2. countingcrow

    countingcrow Contributing Member

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    Thanks for posting. That was a nice read. The Texans are a class organization.
     
  3. moestavern19

    moestavern19 Member

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    Inspiring story, very classy move by Bob McNair.
     
  4. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

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    Great read...shows what a class act the Texans organization is...
     
  5. emjohn

    emjohn Contributing Member

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    Moving read. I'll also give props to the Chronicle for keeping up with the story.
     
  6. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost Contributing Member
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    Awesome story.

    Dude has a lot of grit.

    McNair is a class act.
     
  7. vinsensual

    vinsensual Member

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    Very moving. You can't undervalue high character guys, whether in the locker room or the management.
     
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    What an awesome story. So much bad news out there...so nice to read something like this.
     
  9. msn

    msn Member

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    Yes, props to the Chronicle.

    (as much as I pile on their sports staff, it would be disingenuous not to give them props when they merit it)
     
  10. mrdave543

    mrdave543 Contributing Member

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    Class act by McNair. Thanks for posting.
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. FLASH21

    FLASH21 Heart O' Champs

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    My wife went out on a date with this guy, she said he was a total douche that felt entitled to the obligatory "bow down to me because I'm a pro football player" attitude while he was barely on the 53 man roster that year. She had to be a tag along cause her friend was at the time dating Jacoby Jones and he had the same type of dude.

    Either way, its good to see that this guy is getting better and is working hard to overcome the tragedy he went through.
     
  12. Egghead

    Egghead Member

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    good story, thanks for posting it.
     
  13. david_rocket

    david_rocket Member

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    nice read, thanks for posting it. :)
     
  14. Rockets1616

    Rockets1616 Member

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    way to ruin it bro haha
     
  15. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    Anybody who questions whether McNair is a good guy or not needs to read this story.

    Very, very touching.
     
  16. Tfj4

    Tfj4 Member

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    Did you ask her how many times he tapped that?!
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. BenignDMD

    BenignDMD Contributing Member

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    Hilarious!
     
  18. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    This is why I can never blame a nfl player for holding out cause one hit and it is all over.

    Mcnair is good guy.
     
  19. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
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    Great read....

    Glad he was one of the lucky ones.

    DD
     
  20. BigSherv

    BigSherv Contributing Member

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    That is one good owner
     

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