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September 27, 1993 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-27

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, September 27, 1993 - 3



The former Detroit offensive lineman
discusses his life after football

Ever since Mike Utley was seven
years old, he dreamed ofplaying foot-
ballfor the rest of his life. Following
a standout career at Washington State
in which he was named All-American
following the 1988 season, Utley went
on to become one of the Detroit Lions'
steadiest offensive lineman. Little did
he know that his dreams would be
shattered on an autumn afternoon in
1991 when he became paralyzed as a
result of a freak accident in a game
* against the Los Angeles Rams. Since
that time, Utley has undergone much
physical therapy in his attempt to walk
again. Daily reporter Tim Smith re-
cently spoke with Utley about his life
after football.
Daily: How has your rehabilita-
tion been going?
Utley: I'm still in the wheelchair,
but actually I've been great. I have my
hands back, and my lower back
0 muscles are all in now. I can hold my
legs up and lower them down, and I
can see the muscle fibers working.
This has happened within the last
month or so.
I'm in the weight room at least four
times a week. For exercise, I'm able to
strap my legs together and move
around on-crutches. I can move my
left foot pretty good, and my right foot
* OK. I have some feelings through my
leg, so I can tell light touch and the
difference between hot and cold.
D: Tell me a little about the Mike
Utley Foundation.
U: The No. 1 goal of the founda-
tion is to raise money for spinal cord
research. I've been hurt before, but
they've always been able to fix me up
and put me back on the football field.
Now they're struggling to get me back


My priority is spinal cord research.
Hopefully, God willing, the founda-
tion gets big enough so that a cure
does come. Then we will be able to
help the individual who needs help-
who needs the wheelchair and needs
other things he can't afford.
D: What else have you been doing
to keep busy?
U Ijustgotback from Phoenix (the
foundation's headquarters) last week.
I was doing some work for the foun-
I'm heading back to Detroit for
the week. I'm going to the Lion's
game and I'm also going to speak at a
couple of schools and do an autograph
signing. I really am keeping busy.
D: Do you keep in touch with any
of the Lions?
U: I talk to some of them every
once in a while. We'll ramble about
different things.
D: What has it been like without
football in your life?
U: It's a bitch. I'll tell you what.
I've been playing ever since I was
seven years old, and I really miss it.
It's a rough time this time of year.
Time to ache, time to get sore. I miss
that part of it.
I miss bumming around with the
guys. I don't care what anybody else
says, but you bond with these guys
pretty well. When they suffer you
suffer, when they hurt you hurt. You
get some unity being together.
D: Ignoring the physical aspect,
how else has the accident changed
your life?
U: I still go all out like I used to. It
hasn't slowed me down. Sometimes
physically I'm limited, but mentally I

go to the wild.
I go to the weight room and do a
tough two hour workout. I go to the
hospital to do my gaiting (swing legs
while moving crutches).
I try to keep myself as motivated as
I can. If you don't stay motivated,
somebody's going to pass you by. I
don't want to be passed by anybody.
D: Do you have any intention of
coming back to football as a coach or
front office person?
U: One day, once the rehab for the
spinal cord injury is done with, I would
like to get back into some kind of
coaching. It would most likely be as
an offensive line coach on the college
level. Right now I'm focused on re-
hab, and that's all I do.
D: What kind of public reception
do you get when you go out?
U: Real good. Everybody says
thumbs up man. Keep it up- you're a
hell of an inspiration to me and my
It's not that I've got the spinal cord
injury that people see, it's the fact that
I haven't quit. I won't quit. Lpush as
far as I can as hard as I can. People see
that. It's amazing how far I've come.
I tell people that there is so much
more that I want to do. I'm trying to
get people motivated - children and
adults. I want people to know the
whole story, not just that the injury is
still there.
D: What were your initial feelings
when you heard about the Dennis Byrd
U: I just said shoot, here we go
again. I'll tell you what. He's doing
excellent. I've told people before,
thank God he's walking.
His injury is completely different.

People have got to remember one
thing- all injuries are not the same.
His was nowhere as severe as mine.
He could have moved his legs two
hours after the initial hit. He was much
further along then me from the begin-
D: How come Byrd made such a
quick recovery?
U: People can say it was the drug,
(an experimental one which Byrd was
given) but you don't know. The No.1
thing you can say is that his injuryjust
wasn't as severe.
The key is whathe should be doing
now - promoting spinal cord re-
search. He's not doing that as much.
It's kind of sad.
We need to gdt the people out there
aware about spinal cord injuries. To
get the public focused- that's my goal.
I'm retired from football, promoting
spinal cord research now is my job.
D: What would you say to people
who have injuries or problems, and
are just sitting back feeling sorry for
U: The No. 1 thing people should
realize is that life is too damn short.
Do the things you want to do. If you
are faced with a challenge you've got
to face the challenge, suck it up and go
If you would like more informa-
tion about the Mike Utley Foundation
or would just like to send a donation,
write to:
The Mike Utley Foundation
5050 North 40th Street
Suite 201
Phoenix, Arizona 85018
(602) 955-8225

f~~~Close But No Sugiura
Cleveland Stadium
has charm all its own
CLEVELAND - Character is how Rick Marc-Aurele described it to
"There's character to this ballpark," he said, sitting in his box seat at
Cleveland Stadium, a place that probably was involved somewhere with the
etymology of the word "cavernous."
A season ticket holder for the past three seasons, he said he has missed
only 10 home games in that span.
"I go to so many games, I know everybody here," said Marc-Aurele as
a grounds crew member discreetly slipped him a plastic bag filled with dirt
scooped up from the playing field. It will go on his mantel.
Friday, September 24, three friends and I joined Marc-Aurele and
33,528 other fans to watch the Cleveland Indians - in the middle of a 39-
year rebuilding process - lose, 11-8, to the Milwaukee Brewers in their
sixth-to-last game in Cleveland Stadium, a ballpark once described as The
Mistake by the Lake.
Next season, the Indians will move into the brand-new Gateway Park in
downtown Cleveland.
This coming weekend, the Indians and their fans will say good-bye to
their home since 1932 with three games that are already sold out. Ticket
buyers had to purchase tickets for
all three.Apparently, nostalgia
comes at a price.
The final series will put the Indi-
ans over the 2-million mark for fans
for the first time since 1954, which,
not so coincidentally, was the last
time Cleveland made the postseason.
Much blame for the team's de-
cades-long failure has fallen on the
ballyard bordering Lake Erie.
"Players like to see the stands full
of people," points out Marc-Aurele,
who bears an uncanny resemblance
to Cliff Clavin. "They're showoffs.
They like to perform before a crowd."
If that is the case, it is a wonder
the Indians have won at all. The sta-
dium is an 80,000-seat monolith
which has taken its share of abuse.
The only way the Indians could
sell out was if abuse could buy tick-
Ever the investigative journalist,
I made the trip to see if all the horror
stories were true.
And in all truth, it wasn't that bad. Belle
Yes, it has some problems that fans won't miss.
The stadium parking lot doubles as aloading dock for ships. Incidentally,
the parking lot/loading dock includes a warehouse with a sign that pro-
It is good warning to fans, because in order to park your car, you need a
hard hat. You have to maneuver around these huge stacks of iron rails that
look like they've been there a long, long time.
I surmise that long ago, Indians management said to themselves, "We'll
get rid of those things with the money we get the next time we make the
The stadium itself does show its 61 years of age. There is probably the
same agreement about the butt-unfriendly seats as there is about the rails.
In this information-crazed age, the centerfield scoreboard offers about as
much information as John Gotti does on trial.
If you want to hear the music over the speaker system, I hope you enjoy
the view from the bleachers. It isn't audible anywhere else.
The bunting along the upper deck facing is red, gray and blue.

Ware leads Lions past

visiting Cardinals, 26-20

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - A
switch in quarterbacks got the Detroit
Lions' offense untracked Sunday.
With Andre Ware starting in place
of Rodney Peete, the Lions scored
their first touchdowns since opening
day and defeated the Phoenix Cardi-
nals 26-20.
Ware, the 1989 Heisman Trophy
winner making only his fifth career
start, completed 11 of 24 passes for
194 yards, including a 9-yard touch-
down pass to Brett Perriman.
Derrick Moore scored on a 1-yard
run and Jason Hanson kicked field
goals of 44, 22, 33 and 38 yards for
Detroit (3-1).
Steve Beuerlein completed 23 of
31 passes for 288 yards and two TDs
for the Cardinals (1-3). He hooked up
with Ricky Proehl for a 51-yard score
and with Walter Reeves on a 2-yarder.
Greg Davis kicked field goals of 54

and 30 yards for Phoenix.
The Lions defense recovered three
Phoenix fumbles.
Moore's TD at the 6:17 mark of the
second quarter ended a stretch of 11
quarters, plus an overtime period, in
which the Lions went without a touch-
down. It also was first time Detroit
had scored a touchdown from inside
the 20 in eight previous tries this sea-
The Cardinals went ahead 7-6 just
2:01 into the second quarter when
Beuerlein found Proehl far ahead of
Kevin Scott. But the Lions reclaimed
the lead on Hanson's third field goal
on their next possession.
With Phoenix trailing by six,
Beuerlein fumbled with 1:56 remain-
ing on his own 29. Hanson's 43-yard
attempt was blocked with nine sec-
onds left, but Beuerlein's last-ditch
pass fell incomplete.

Phoenix Cardinals' running back Garrison Hearst tries to avoid tackle attempt of
Detroit Lions' defensive back William White in the Lions' 26-20 victory yesterday .


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