Saturday, August 21, 1999

Moore breaks neck on tackle

Backup safety 'lucky to be alive'

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kelvin Moore is carted off the field.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        PONTIAC, Mich. — Bengals backup strong safety Kelvin Moore's career ended Friday night when he fractured the first vertebra in his neck after making a tackle in the second half of Cincinnati's 16-0 exhibition loss here to the Detroit Lions.

        “He's lucky to be alive,” Bengals trainer Paul Sparling said. “Something like that can cut off your blood flow.”

        Sparling said Moore wasn't paralyzed, but he nodded when asked if Moore's career was over.

Kelvin Moore
        “It was out-loud prayer,” Bengals cornerback Corey Sawyer said. “We just wanted the lord to lift him up. I just kept saying, "Kelvin, turn over; Kelvin, turn over.'”

        Moore, 24, in his second season with the Bengals, was undergoing diagnostic tests Friday night at Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital and was to be transferred to another local facility.

        The Bengals' bus stopped at the hospital on the way to the airport, and Bengals President Mike Brown, head coach Bruce Coslet, secondary coach Ray Horton, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and Sparling went in to see Moore, who is under medication and being fitted for a halo brace.

        “It's a very serious injury, but we've been told the early prognosis is encouraging. He has feeling in his extremities,” Brown said.

        Strong safety Myron Bell, Moore's best friend on the team, was to spend the night in Detroit, along with assistant trainer Billy Brooks. Moore will be transferred to Cincinnati in a few days.

        When Sparling and the rest of the medical staff reached Moore after his hit on wide receiver Brian Stablein with 9:47 left in the third quarter, Moore was unconscious. Moore woke about a minute later and regained his motor function as he was carried off the field after a 15-minute delay.

        “He gave him a big pop,” said rookie cornerback Charles Fisher, who was on the field when Stablein caught a 10-yard pass and got hit by Moore at the Lions' 33-yard line.

        Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins said Moore hit Stablein with the side of his neck and screamed at safety Tremain Mack to let go of Moore's hand: “He was limp before he hit the ground.”

        Moore, an undrafted free agent, played in four games last season on special teams. He was enjoying an excellent training camp and was seen as a promising player for the future.

        Both teams ventured onto the field to watch medical personnel work on Moore. They are two franchises all too familiar with the scene.

        Former Lions Mike Utley and Reggie Brown suffered similar injuries in this decade and had to retire. Many Bengals remember Nov.3, 1996 in Baltimore, when guard Scott Brumfield suffered a spinal cord concussion that put him in a wheelchair for weeks. He recovered to play the next season.

        Plus, Coslet was coaching the New York Jets in the early '90s when defensive end Dennis Byrd was paralyzed.

        Coslet refused to reveal his feelings while watching the scene: “It's a sick feeling.”


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