GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The two men didn't know each other, but in an instant they became bound for life.
That's what one bad football hit can do to two players, one having his life changed forever in that he'll never play another down because of a spinal injury, the other living with the burden that he was the other player involved in the tackle.
|'The best way I can describe it,' New York's Dominek Hixon said of his first season of NFL play, 'is a roller-coaster ride.' (US Presswire)|
Does he ever get over the pain? Will he ever be more than "that guy," the one who was tackled by Everett on the play?
Domenik Hixon is that player. He has battled the demons since that hit and he's hopeful he can move on. It has taken time and a lot of patience and tons of of soul searching to help him better understand that it wasn't his fault.
"There was definitely (some guilt)," Hixon said. "You basically just changed somebody's life. People say, 'It's not your fault, it's not your fault.' It was tough."
It nearly cost Hixon his career. But after admitting he became tentative following the hit, leading to his being cut by the Denver Broncos, Hixon is back playing again with the New York Giants the same way he did before that tragic day. This Sunday, he will play in Super Bowl XLII against the New England Patriots.
He will be playing for two.
Everett will never get the chance to play in a Super Bowl since his football days are over. But that doesn't mean he won't be on the field in spirit when Hixon takes the field Sunday. Asked if part of Everett will be with him against the Patriots, Hixon smiled.
"Absolutely," Hixon said.
Before that hit, Hixon knew little of Everett. They had never met or spoken.
"Just a scouting report," Hixon said of his knowledge of the player.
They were two young men chasing a dream. That dream became a nightmare when Everett crashed into Hixon as he returned the second-half kickoff of a game the Broncos won 15-14.