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Thursday, September 20, 2007
Doctors say Bills tight end Everett could be walking in weeks

Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Kevin Everett will be transferred Friday morning to a Houston hospital to begin the next phase of his rehabilitation, less than two weeks after the Buffalo Bills tight end sustained a life-threatening spinal cord injury.

And doctors said Thursday they believe he will be walking within weeks -- perhaps sooner.

"Soon ... they're going to stand him up," Dr. Barth Green told The Associated Press, shortly after discussing Everett's condition with Bills orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Cappuccino. "They're very confident he'll be walking very soon ... in the next days or weeks, not months."

Eric Armstead, a partner of Everett's agent Brian Overstreet, said Everett was going to Houston's Memorial Hermann Hospital and would be traveling by private plane.

"I talked to him today, and he's very excited," Armstead said.

The prognosis is remarkable after Everett arrived at Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital paralyzed from the neck down after being hurt while making a tackle in Buffalo's season opener against Denver on Sept. 9. Doctors initially expressed fears Everett would never walk again.

Green is chairman of the neurological surgery department at the University of Miami school of medicine and has received regular updates from Everett's doctors on the player's progress.

"Now that doesn't mean he'll be walking normally, but standing up and holding his own weight," Green said. "I think the future for him is very bright."

"He's strong, you all, I'm telling you he's strong," Everett's mother, Patricia Dugas said. "Kevin's going to get up walking and take care of his business like he always has. I don't think life is going to change that much."

Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said the team had no update on Everett's status.

Everett makes his offseason home in Houston, where many of his family members and friends live.

Green suggested Houston would be the best place to move Everett because it's important for the player to have his family and friends nearby.

"I love the Buffalo people, and I'll hate to leave them," Dugas said. "But it'll be good that we can be closer to home for all our family to come over and see him because they're worried about him. ... He wants to see his family, too."

Dugas has been at her son's bedside since a day after he was hurt.

"He never asked why. He has a positive outlook about all of this," she said. "Sometimes I walk around here saying, 'I can't believe he's smiling like that. ... That's what he give me, peace. He keeps me strong."

Everett was strong enough to sit up on his own in his hospital bed this week.

NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw and NFLPA president Troy Vincent, a former teammate of Everett's in Buffalo, were scheduled to visit the player Thursday.