Two Fridays ago, after another play in another practice, Treyvon Green did not pick himself up off the field. After getting popped by the safety Ibraheim Campbell, he simply remained down for long-and-agonizing minutes as he was administered to by the 'Cat athletic training staff. A hush, that kind of hush that surrounds a tragedy, soon fell over this scene, and it was impossible for any observer to not think of the worst-possible kind of horror show. "Ibraheim hit me pretty good. He stood me up. My pad level wasn't low enough, so he got under my pads," Green would say after Tuesday's practice, beginning his own description of that scary moment.
"I lost my feet and I hit the ground pretty hard. Jennifer's trying to wake me up. As I'm trying to open my eyes, I feel a numbness going down my legs, and I really can't feel my hands. At this point, I'm terrified. I didn't know if I was going to play football again. I didn't know, there's a lot of things going through your head when something like that happens to you. I didn't really know what's going on. I've never had a concussion before, or any serious injury. So this is all new to me.
"Then they're trying to get me to keep my eyes open and to make sure I had some type of feeling in my legs and in my arms. Eventually, by the time we got in the ambulance, I had an IV hooked up to me, I do remember that, and then once I got to the hospital, I started to get the feeling back in my legs and the tingling went away in my hands. We had a CAT scan, an MRI and that was it."
Felicia Green, his mother, was a single parent who worked three jobs while he and his two older brothers were all in the house, and so it is not surprising that he has a close-and-special relationship with here. Nor was it surprising that he thought of her after that ambulance transported him and and the medical staff to Evanston Hospital, followed closely in a police car by Pat Fitzgerald and running backs coach Matt MacPherson. "Yeah, I talked to my mom," he will say Tuesday, pulling back more memories from that Friday.
"I actually had one of the athletic trainers call her to make sure they told her I was OK, you don't have to book a flight out here (from their home in Garland, Texas) or anything like that. Then, once I started getting my mind back and everything became normal, I called her and she was still trying to book flights. I told her everything's OK, I'm in good hands here and they'll take care of me."
It was one o'clock Saturday morning before Treyvon Green was fully cleared and released from the hospital. "My neck was pretty sore and I was in a neck brace. But I was OK," he remembers. "But the next morning I woke up, I had a bad, bad headache. I told my athletic trainers and they said they think I had a concussion. Like I said, I never had a concussion, so I didn't know the protocol or anything like that. But I really didn't think I'd be out that long, to tell you the truth."
After he awoke with that headache on Saturday morning, Green traveled from his dorm to the football lounge. "I was in the lounge relaxing, trying to get some sleep," he recalls. "My head was pounding. I had everybody out. I didn't want anybody to come to the lounge. I was trying to get some time to myself. Obviously I was sleepy too and my head was pounding. Then Ibraheim came in and talked to me. I told him I had a headache. He felt really bad about (what had happened) and I told him not to. Football, it's a violent game and of course it's going to be physical and things are going to happen. So I had to let him know, I still love you as a teammate. No hard feelings or anything like that."
The next day, Sunday, Treyvon Green accompanied the 'Cats to their training camp in Kenosha. But not until this Tuesday would he again return to the field. "I'm extremely happy (to be back)," he would say after his return. "Being out for awhile makes you look at football differently. Football's going to go on without you. So me sitting on the sidelines watching my teammates do every workout, that was tough on me. I could only take mental notes."
Early on Tuesday, in the first periods of that practice, there was (not surprisingly) a hesitancy about Treyvon Green. "I would say there was," he will later admit. "Starting out early with the blitz pickup, I was extremely nervous just to get back out on the field and do what I love to do. It was nervous for me there at first. I was just trying to get a feel for everything around me. But once we got to team, I started breaking off some better runs and started getting my vision back. Also, in interior, I had a nice run. So I think it was just about me getting my confidence back and being around my teammates again."
That nice run, in interior, was on that played simply called Inside Zone. And after it, after he gained those six yards and picked himself up off the field, is it a feeling of relief? "It actually is. It is," Treyvon Green will finally say. "Just because there's so much on my shoulders. I'm not feeling bad for myself at all. But when something like that happens, of course you're going to have a chip on your shoulder and there's a lot of pressure on you because everyone wants to see what you're going to do when you come back, see how you respond.
"That's one of our values (responding). So I figure when I come out here, I need to respond the way my teammates would want to see me respond. With that being said, I took that in my mind and gave everything I had."