JOHN McCLAMROCK, 51, died on 3/18/08 from respiratory problems arising from paralysis caused on 10/17/73 as a junior varsity special teamer with Hillcrest HS (TX). Charging at a Spruce HS ball carrier on the opening kickoff, the 17-year-old junior broke his neck when his face struck the opponent’s thigh. The tackle left McClamrock paralyzed from the neck down, unable to lie with his head elevated off a flat bed, or even sit in a wheel chair, for the rest of his life. Doctors initially were unsure whether he would survive the trauma, but his mother, Ann McClamrock, rejected suggestions that the family place him in a nursing home or other institution for quadriplegia victims. Instead she brought her son home and devoted the rest of her life to his daily care in his own bedroom. She remained by John’s bedside day and night for the next 35 years, reading and watching television with him, feeding him, and tending to his health and hygiene needs. When she left the room or went outside for church or shopping, it was only for an hour or two at a time. It was “a wonderful life together,” mother and son agreed. For more than three decades, Ann never thought of herself as a hero. “I’m just a mother,” she would say to friends, struck by her devotion. Ann McClamrock collapsed on the morning of John’s funeral, and died eight weeks later.–“Youth Sports Hero of the Month: Ann McClamrock (North Dallas, Texas)”, MomsTeam.com 11/7/10, Douglas E. Abrams, J.D.
ISAAC REDMAN, 30, running back with Pittsburgh, 2009-13, retired on 8/22/14 due to a spinal cord injury. He was diagnosed with a concussion in Week 2 of the 2013 season and was cut after just three games. After having 2 MRIs and a CAT scan, Redman retired on the advice of Dr Watkins (known for having performed neck surgery on Peyton Manning).–“Isaac Redman retires from NFL due to spinal cord injury”, NFL.com 8/22/14, Kevin Patra.
JOHNNY KNOX, 28, wide receiver and kick returner with Chicago, 2009-11, was bent backward trying to recover his own fumble in a game versus Seattle on 12/18/11 and suffered a career-ending spinal injury. He was drilled by Anthony Hargrove, a 6-3, 272-pound defensive end who was charging downfield full speed. Knox’s body bent back grotesquely and he remained down on the field for nearly 10 minutes before being removed on a backboard and taken to the hospital, where he underwent surgery. Knox was told that he was a millimeter away from being paralyzed, saying: “The doctor said if my back wasn’t as strong as it was, it could have been worse.” A Pro Bowl selection on special teams as a rookie, Knox maintained sensation in all his limbs after the incident and was able to walk the day after surgery, as he still can now, with full range of motion in his arms also.–“Catching up with Johnny Knox”, ChicagoBears.com 2/4/15, Larry Mayer.
DAVID POLLACK, 30, linebacker with Cincinnati, 2005-07, suffered a career-ending neck injury in a collision with running back Reuben Droughns of Cleveland in 2006. Immobile as he lay on the field, he suffered a fractured sixth cervical vertebra and later underwent spinal fusion surgery, having to wear a halo brace for 3 months. Pollack missed the entire 2007 season while rehabbing and holding out hope that he could return, but retired in 2008. The New Brunswick, NJ, native said his last play was a freak hit and that he’d been hit harder than that before. Pollack now works with ESPN.–“No. 10 Bengals draft bust of all-time: David Pollack”, CincyJungle.com 4/19/15, Josh Kirkendall.
TOM VANDENBURGH, 57 (app), defensive end with Notre Dame’s 1977 National Championship team, had his career ended by a spinal injury before his junior year. He was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in May 2015.–“Nine with area ties entering Indiana Football Hall of Fame”, ChicagoTribune.com 5/2/15, John Mutka.