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11.03.2009

Etheridge speaks

Hey everyone. Safety Zac Etheridge just stopped by the complex to meet with his teammates. He also spoke with reporters.

  • He is walking fine. He is wearing an invasive brace that keeps his head firm and connects to his chest/back. It's pretty intimidating. His mother said Zac will be in that for at least three months. That's 24/7.

  • Etheridge was highly complimentary of Ole Miss tailback Rodney Scott. Etheridge called over there to speak with Scott, but he was in class. The conversation instead was with Houston Nutt.

  • Etheridge said he plans to play football again next season.

  • His official injury is a cracked C-5 vertebrae and a few damaged neck ligaments.

  • He was paralyzed initially. Within a minute or two, though, he was able to wiggle his toes. All feeling was restored within an hour.

  • Zac on how it all went down: ``We all know I was paralyzed for a little bit. Just laying on the ground, it felt weird not being able to control your body. I have to give my hats off to Rodney Scott. It's a blessing that he didn't move. I talked to Coach Nutt today about the situation. I've just got to give my hats off to Rodney Scott. If he would have moved, I wouldn't be here today. I'd still be laying on the hospital bed. It's just a blessing that I'm even able to walk again today."

  • On being able to play again: ``That was probably the first question I asked. They said, 'Don't worry about anything. You'll be fine.' I was like: Will I be able to play again? At first, the doctor (said) that they don't know. After we got some pretty good results from the MRI and the X-rays and the CAT scan, things look like I'll be able to play again."

  • On what he has learned from the experience: ``You never know when your last play will be. You never know what's going to happen in life. I'll be fine. I told all the guys -- I'll be fine even if I'm not able to play football again. I will still be around Auburn. I will still be an Auburn man."

  • Cassandra Kelly, Zac's mom: ``The prayers of people and their support has been so wonderful. This has been a tough time for Zac and all of us, but knowing everyone has been there for us made it all possible. Without that, I don't know that I'd have made it."

  • More from Mrs. Kelly: ``I just thank God that everything worked out. And the young man who laid still. If he'd have moved, this would have been worse. All I can say is angels are watching over us. God is still in the healing business. It's been a miracle."
Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at jgtate@gannett.com.

40 Comments:

Blogger Scott Coats said...

Glad to hear he's in good spirits.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Dear Leader said...

GREAT SECOND SUBSTANCE... Made my day

3:30 PM  
Blogger michael said...

Awesome.

3:30 PM  
Blogger scottieus etheridge said...

#4 FOR ZAC!

3:31 PM  
Blogger michael said...

I cracked a vertebra playing football in high school also - though I didn't know it until a couple of years later after getting an x-ray for a different football related neck injury. It had already healed up by then but the doctor was like, "Hey, check out this scarring here. You cracked this vertebra at one time."

Football: Good for the neck!

3:35 PM  
Blogger scottieus etheridge said...

back 4 years ago i herniated a disk in my back between C6/C7. it was the worst pain i've ever felt. i lost 20 lbs in 2 weeks b/c i couldn't move. even with vigorous rehab i still couldn't push off with my left arm. it killed the strength in my left arm & shoulder and i never have regained full strength in that arm even though i work out. i can't imagine cracking that vertebrae. prayers sent Zac!

3:37 PM  
Blogger cincytiger said...

I hate to think how much more damage could have been done had Scott not had the intuition to know something was wrong and pushed Zac off of him.

3:43 PM  
Blogger michael said...

I don't know much about anything, but I know you can recover from cracking a vertebra a lot of the time. If I remember correctly, what you worry about is how the spinal cord was affected during the cracking of the vertebra.

I actually think herniated disks are worse in a lot of situations, scottieus.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Scott C. said...

Being the manly man that I am, I teared up big time when Zac gave the thumbs up when leaving the field. Teared up again reading this.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Wifey cracked a vertebrae. She was aiight after a while.

3:45 PM  
Blogger IV said...

I am so glad that Zac is progressing as well as he is. I am also glad that he went by the AC to see his team mates and coaches. He is proving to be a man of character by trying to get in touch with and to thank Rodney Scott for the part he played in helping Zac prevent further injury. I wouldn't expect anything else from ZE. He is an Auburn man!

3:46 PM  
Blogger scottieus etheridge said...

yeah, it's cool Zac tried to call the guy.

i hope his recovery was easier than mine Michael. i couldn't imagine hitting or getting hit in a football way 8-9 months after getting hurt. no freaking way and i was in pretty good shape. it makes me cringe just thinking about it.

3:47 PM  
Blogger michael said...

When I cracked mine, I couldn't breathe for about 15 seconds (probably more like 3 seconds, but when you can't breathe, time goes slowly). I was able to slowly get up in a bit of a daze and started breathing again after walking to the side. I had a sore neck for a bit, but nothing that made me feel like I should tell a coach or doctor.

Like I said, as long as it is mostly a bone issue, you would think it would heal fine. If it is disk or nerve related, then those problems don't go away.

3:50 PM  
Blogger ehyou said...

Cool.

3:56 PM  
Blogger IV said...

Michael,

I like your serious side.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Added some comments from Zac's mom.

I'm adding Zac quotes right now.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I'm doing a full Etheridge video, too.

Should be up around 4:30-4:45 CST.

4:00 PM  
Blogger AUfan said...

Easy to see why ZE is considered a leader among the players.

I hope he can come back, but I will hold my breath for him if he does. AU is usually very conservative when it comes to clearing players with neck issues.

4:01 PM  
Blogger IV said...

Jay,

Thanks for keeping us up to date on Zac. He and Rodney Scott has really been on my mind since the the injury happened.

4:01 PM  
Blogger IV said...

has=have

4:02 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

ZE is a tough hombre. No doubt about that.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Great for Zac. I hope we can see him out there again, but I think we're all glad he's ok.

Hopefully he will be an inspiration for the team to finish strong!

4:03 PM  
Blogger IV said...

I have a feeling that Zac will now become one of the best coaches that we have in working with the young secondary players for the rest of the year. You just know that he is not finished contributing to this 2009 team.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Wakeriderof87 said...

Yep, I have known a number of people to crack vertebrae and have full recoveries in under a year, including many who are not in near the condition Zac is. I would imagine the ligament damage will actually require more rehab than the vert.

That is my completely uneducated viewpoint.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Wakeriderof87 said...

All I know is God really answered prayers on this one. First was seeing him put that thumb up, that was a huge relief. Even then I never imagined seeing him out of the hospital and back at Auburn this soon.

4:11 PM  
Blogger §teveFC said...

If I remember correctly, it was an Ole Miss player that was paralyzed in a football game back in the 80s. I believe he later passed away in the 90s partially due to the effects of the paralysis.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Harrison said...

steve- chuckie mullins. they give out an award in his honor every year

4:14 PM  
Blogger LuvAU41 said...

That is so AUsome to hear about Zac! Thanks for the news, Jay G!

4:21 PM  
Blogger LuvAU41 said...

Michael, when IV said he liked your serious side, I thought for sure you'd come back immediately with some of your wit!

4:23 PM  
Blogger IV said...

And by the way Michael, Zxcaheopl mn017ruxkiv.

4:25 PM  
Blogger michael said...

Sorry Luv, I've been working. How's this:

IV, I have always considered my left side my best. I have uneven ears, and the one on the left seems like it fits in with the rest of my head a little bit better than the one on the right. I also have an unsightly mole along the jaw line of my right side.

But yeah, my serious side is alright too.

4:26 PM  
Blogger IV said...

Like I said, I like your serious side.

4:28 PM  
Blogger michael said...

Better than my left side? I may have to change my approach to life with this sort of information...

4:30 PM  
Blogger Dadof3Girls said...

WAR ZAC

4:32 PM  
Blogger FSJ said...

Here's to a speedy recovery for Zac.

Hope he makes All SEC next year.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Our video server is acting up again. I can't guarantee when this video will be live.

Sorry. I'm working on it.

4:56 PM  
Blogger LuvAU41 said...

FSJ, me too, but I'd be scared to death to ever play again.

5:03 PM  
Blogger coosa said...

Great news! Praying for a complete recovery, and I hope he can play next year. It would mean a lot to him and to the team just to get back on the field again.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Etheridge video is UPZ.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

What if Rodney Scott would have stayed with his commitment to auburn and a different guy would have pushed Zac off of him like most players would? Lot of irony there. As fans we often forget the sacrificies these kids make for a "free" education. Very few of them are gifted enough to make a living in professional sports. I am sure most of them know it but do it anyway to get that education from the school they love. War eagle ZE...you are a true Auburn man.

9:10 PM  

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