By DAVID FAWCETT
Deon Butler knew something was wrong with his right leg after he got sandwiched between two defenders after catching a 2-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of Seattle’s game Dec. 12 at San Francisco.
But as he laid on the ground, Butler didn’t know the severity of the injury until he noticed his sock.
“It was not looking like it should have been,” said Butler, a 2004 Hylton graduate. “There was a lump on the other side. There was no broken skin, but the leg was broken.”
Butler’s fears were confirmed a moment later when teammate Ruvell Martin looked at Butler’s leg and said, “Oh shoot, let’s say a prayer.”
It wasn’t exactly the comforting words Butler wanted to hear right then, but Butler braced for the worst.
A speed guy who relies heavily on his legs to get open and make plays, Butler had never been injured before in his football career and some nerve-wracking thoughts filled his mind. His season was over, but what about his career?
Then he was carted off the field and taken to a room for further examination. It was at that point that another teammate, Leon Washington, came in and offered words of encouragement before heading out to the team bus. Washington had suffered a compound fracture the season before with the New York Jets and so he could relate to Butler’s situation.
“He came back,” Butler said. “He went through the same thing and look how he’s done. So if I need to be put in good spirits, I point to Leon.”
Butler’s prognosis is good. He expects to be jogging in the next few weeks and if the rehab goes as scheduled, he should be at full speed in four months when training camp opens.
The only issue now is whether that will happen or not with the NFL lockout.
Butler is barred from training or working out at the Seahawks’ facility, which means he can’t use the special machine that helps him in his rehab. He also can’t receive treatment from the trainers or the team doctor on the Seahawks’ property.
Instead, he has to make a regular appointment with the Seattle team doctor and go to his office.
Butler said the players were informed way ahead of time of what to prepare for if there was an NFL lockout. They were advised on financial matters as well as medical and health issues.
To cover his medical, Butler will receive COBRA coverage to cover costs.
In the meantime, Butler trains on his own.
He’s home this week to attend Hoops Fest tonight, where he’ll serve as a slam-dunk judge and introduce Josh Himan and his family.
Josh is the recipient of the proceeds raised from this year’s event. A 2002 Hylton graduate who served in Afghanistan in the Marines, Himan was paralyzed from the chest down in 2009 after being wounded.
The Butlers and the Himans have known each other for years, starting with youth baseball. Butler played on the same time as Josh’s younger brother Jacob.
“They are just genuinely nice people,” Butler said. “I remember Josh always having a smile on his face. He was one of the bigger hitters on his baseball team … He was always upbeat and energetic.”
Butler will head back after the event to resume rehab in Seattle, but he knew he had to be here first to honor a special family.
“It was a no-brainer for me to do it,” Butler said.