Former Shiloh and University of Georgia star Davey Pollack, now with the Cincinnati Bengals, suffered a broken vertebra in his neck in Sunday's game vs. Cleveland that will cause him to miss the remainder of the NFL season.
The 24-year-old linebacker broke the C6 vertebra is his spine when he collided with the Browns' Reuben Droughns, although his spinal cord was not damaged in the incident, according to his mother, Kelli Pollack. The C6 vertebra is part of the upper, or cervical spine, that is numbered C1 to C7, with C7 being the lowest on the spine.
Pollack is in a halo brace to immobilize his neck, but is expected to leave the hospital today. The family bought a recliner Monday for him to rest in the coming weeks, although he should be able to attend team meetings and functions within a few weeks.
"He is out for the season with a broken neck, but he has all the feeling in his extremities back," Kelli Pollack said. "He's in a halo brace for three months. Then they'll take it off and he'll either be ready to go or he'll have surgery. But (the doctors) are very optimistic."
Good friend David Greene of the Seattle Seahawks said Pollack temporarily lost feeling from the waist up after impact, but he regained feeling in his extremities shortly after the hit. He never lost consciousness.
Greene heard about Pollack's injury as he left the locker room after the Seahawks' win on Sunday afternoon.
"My wife Veronica told me as soon as I came out (of the locker room)," Greene said. "I heard that Pollack broke his neck and you can't imagine that overwhelming feeling. You're not sure what it means. That can mean a lot of things. Is he paralyzed? Is it minor?
"I was trying to call (Pollack's wife) Lindsey to get the scoop and I felt a lot better once I talked to her. He was joking with the nurses, and knowing he was in good spirits made me feel a lot better. And (Lindsey) sounded at ease, too. It sounded like everything's going to be OK."
The Pollacks hope that spinal fusion surgery, which could be career-threatening, would not be required. The goal is for the injury to heal itself properly while in the halo.
Norm and Kelli Pollack, and Pollack's wife, Lindsey, all were in attendance at Sunday's game for the scary scene.
"How do you describe (what it was like?)," Kelli Pollack said of witnessing the injury. "It was one of the worst moments of our life. But he's very deep in his faith and he has an amazing attitude. He's always upbeat. He's just amazing."
Lindsey Pollack posted an e-mail on cincinnati.com's Bengals blog on Monday, stating that the family was in "a waiting period" and that they "won't know for a little bit whether surgery has to be an option." She also said her husband is in wonderful spirits, and is able to move from the chest down, as well as walk.
Kelli Pollack said he quickly passed the tests required to go home, like putting on his socks and getting himself dressed.
"He's just being himself," Kelli said. "He's cutting up with the nurses, just basically telling everybody how to do their job. He's talking to everybody. He's just in great spirits."
David Greene, who plans to visit Pollack in Cincinnati in two weeks on Seattle's bye week, said he hopes his friend recovers without surgery. But if there's any doubt about the health of Pollack's neck, he wants him to make a safe choice.
As of Monday afternoon, Greene hadn't talked to Pollack because the Bengals 2005 first-round draft pick hasn't been allowed to use the phone in the intensive care unit. Pollack was moved from ICU to a regular room later Monday evening.
"As hard as the hitting is in this league, if it wasn't 100 percent back to normal, I would hope and pray he wouldn't (try to play)," Greene said. "He's such a competitor but it's not worth it. I think he'll make the smart choice."
Pollack hit Droughns on Cleveland's second offensive snap, and laid on his stomach on the field until medical staff turned him to strap him onto a body board. He gave a thumbs-up to fans as he was wheeled off the field.
"Anytime you say a back or a neck, it's scary," middle linebacker Brian Simmons told bengals.com an hour after the game. "We still really don't know what it is. We're just praying for him and are thinking about him and his family."
After a relatively injury-free career at Georgia, Pollack hasn't had such luck in the NFL. A sprained knee cost him three weeks during the middle of his rookie year in 2005, and he missed most of spring camps with a foot problem. He pulled his hamstring in an intersquad scrimmage this season and that injury limited him to virtually no action in the Bengals' season opener.