NFL Star Hurt in Scary Collision
AOL: Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware sustained a sprained neck during a frightening fourth-quarter collision with Chargers right tackle Brandyn Dombrowski on Sunday.
The Cowboys medical staff made the initial diagnosis of a sprained neck, and Ware was fully conscious, with strength and feeling in all extremities following the injury, which left one of Dallas' best defensive players prone on the Cowboys Stadium field for more than five minutes.
With 11:28 remaining and the game tied 10-10, San Diego had the ball on second-and-7 at the Cowboys' 48-yard line when Dombrowski appeared to be blocked into Ware following an incomplete pass from quarterback Philip Rivers. The tackle's knee or leg drove into the back of Ware's neck and helmet, sending the linebacker to the turf.
The entire Cowboys medical staff quickly surrounded Ware and a cart and gurney were summoned onto the field. Within minutes, Dallas nose tackle Jay Ratliff gave a thumbs-up sign to the owners' box and Ware responded by giving the crowd a wave with both hands as he was loaded onto a stretcher and driven off the field.
Ware was examined at a local hospital. The Cowboys said X-rays indicated soft tissue damage but no structural damage.
Three plays later, the Chargers took a 17-10 lead on Rivers' 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
"Initially, it looks like right at the base [of the neck] he has a sprain," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after his team lost to the Chargers 20-17. "I don't get into medicine as I'm obviously not qualified. We feel good about everything. Everything was moving; everything was going, just by the nature of where [the injury]. The doctors felt good while they were down there with him. He's at the hospital right now and we feel good about him."
Ware, 27, has been the biggest defensive playmaker for Dallas, collecting an NFL-most 43 sacks since 2007 entering Sunday's game and nine sacks in his first 12 games this season. He agreed to a six-year, $78 million contract extension in October.
Teammates expressed both concern and relief about the nature of the frightening injury and how Ware ultimately emerged with full use of his extremities.
"The good thing is we saw him moving," cornerback Terence Newman said. "Definitely from that indication, things weren't going to be too bad.
"But the fact you're taken off on a stretcher, you're still always nervous."
Said quarterback Tony Romo, "We all love DeMarcus and obviously he's an incredible player but more important to all of us, he's a great guy and he's a joy to be around. Rain or shine, he has a smile on his face and he's always lifting everyone's spirit around him so my thoughts and prayers go out to him right now."
Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears was one of many teammates who rushed to Ware's side as he lay on the field.
"I just made sure he was OK," Spears said. "I told him, 'God bless you.' just like everybody else did. Everybody said prayers for him, but I just wanted to see him move a part of his body and when he did I knew he was OK."