During the Thursday night game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos, Colts tight end Brandon Williams was carted off the field after suffering a scary neck injury. On Friday he was released from the hospital. Seattle Seahawks fans may remember Williams from last season, when as a free agent signee he played more offensive snaps than 2016 third round draft pick Nick Vannett and recorded the second most special teams snaps on the roster behind Cassius Marsh.
The Thursday night game was not a great matchup, with Indy and Denver entering the game with records of 3-10 and 4-9, respectively, so it may not have been on the top of everyone’s list of things to watch. I, for example, am typically glued to any NFL game that is broadcasts any time on any day, but this week I was given an opportunity to spend my nights working on a project to help with the drinking water shortages in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, so even I missed this game. In any case, here is the play on which Williams was injured.
Here’s what happened to Colts TE Brandon Williams who was put on a stretcher. Sending Prayers to him #DENvsIND pic.twitter.com/hAF86cZF6u— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) December 15, 2017
It does not appear menacing at all, and the great news is that not long after the injury the Colts sent out the following update, letting fans know that Williams was doing well:
#PrayersFor85 Update: Brandon Williams is awake and alert. He has no neck pain and has movement in his limbs. pic.twitter.com/rsOgMCrMnZ— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 15, 2017
One thing that sticks out to this Seahawks fan is that just 45 minutes after that update on Williams’ status was posted, former teammate Tyler Lockett replied:
I'm glad he is okay!!!!— Tyler Lockett (@TDLockett12) December 15, 2017
Within hours, the team had issued another update, this one very positive.
TE Brandon Williams is out of the hospital and 'doing well' after suffering a concussion during #DENvsIND: https://t.co/jMLaFnd5Ba pic.twitter.com/orSNNvtFmg— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 15, 2017
Obviously, no fans ever want to see a football player suffer a concussion, but when the injury results in the player being carted off the field on a stretcher, a concussion seems a welcome diagnosis, at least to me. The lack of any spinal injury is fantastic news for Williams, and surely a relief to fans. The injury, however, also brings up the fact that Williams even playing in the NFL is surprising, given that his football career at the University of Oregon ended as the result of a spinal stenosis. For those unfamiliar with spinal stenosis, here is the definition from WebMD:
Spinal stenosis is a rare condition characterized by abnormal narrowing (stenosis) of the spaces within the spinal canal, spinal nerve root canals, or bones of the spinal column (vertebrae). Affected individuals may experience pain in the lower back and/or the legs. In some cases, affected individuals may have difficulty walking. Spinal stenosis may occur as a result of spinal injury, surgery, abnormal bone growth, or deterioration. In some cases, spinal stenosis may be inherited as an autosomal dominant genetic trait.
In spite of that diagnosis, Williams did not give up his dream of playing professionally, continuing to stay in shape and doing what he could to keep the dream alive. His road to the NFL is told in a great piece by Jason Quick from 2014, and with his release from the hospital after being carted off the field on a stretcher Thursday, it is great news for those who have continued to follow him after he signed with Indianapolis as a free agent last spring.
Obviously it remains to be seen if his injury will have any impact on his football future, and as a free agent again this coming spring the injury could scare some teams off. In any case, the most important thing is that Williams is doing well enough to have been released from the hospital. Best of luck and wishes of health to Williams from at least this Seahawks fan.