Two years ago in the summer of 2009, TJC runningback Brian Eurysthee experienced a traumatizing neck injury that would significantly alter not only his football career, but also the next few years of his life.
The very first day of two-a-day football practices, Eurysthee was participating in a routine passing skeleton drill when a defender collided with Eurysthee on his way to cover somebody else. Following the collision, the back of Eurysthee’s head came down hard on the turf and, almost immediately, head football coach Danny Palmer recognized the severity of what had happened.
“I don’t know if it was the collision, or the guy, or the ground, but I knew we were in trouble,” said Palmer.
Eurysthee experienced a brief moment of paralysis following the hit, but nevertheless, he wanted to get back up and continue practice. Athletic trainer Eddy McGuire assessed the situation and made the decision to prevent Eurysthee from making any attempts to get back on his feet.
“He was probably paralyzed for about five seconds,” said Palmer. “He was ready to get up after the play and said ‘I’m ok, I’m ok’, and tried to get up, and then our trainer Eddy McGuire saw the situation and said: “nah you’re not getting up until we check this thing out’.”
The rest of the Apache football team could only stand helplessly as their teammate was carted off.
“I think everybody on the team knew he was hurt, and I think everybody on the team just went silent for about 15 or 20 minutes…nobody was moving,” Palmer said.
Shortly after the incident, Eurysthee’s teammates and coaches learned that Eurysthee had sustained a C1 fracture in his neck, more commonly known as a Jefferson fracture. As with any vertebral injury, Brian’s would prohibit him from doing many of his regular daily activities. Eurysthee would not be able to do what he loved for an entire season, and even worse, there was no guarantee that he would ever be able to play football again.
The road to recovery was nothing less than a grueling journey for Eurysthee. For six months he was required to wear both a halo and a neck brace. Needless to say, Eurysthee’s condition left both him and the entire team to grieve.
“He stayed upset. The whole team stayed upset,” said Palmer, “but by the same token, Brian told me one time: ‘Coach, go coach the football team. Let me get well, I’ll be back…”
Eurysthee made many trips back and forth between Tyler and his home city of Houston, gathering the opinions of many different doctors. Regardless of how mixed they were, Eurysthee never faltered, and he was determined to make it back to the gridiron. He endured many months of home and aquatic therapy, a taxing process that tested both his mental and physical ability to face adversity.
“I wanted to make a comeback. I didn’t like the way I went out,” said Eurysthee. “It was painful. I had my ups and downs…I felt like giving up. I just had to keep my faith in God, and he would show me the way.”
After sitting out for both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Houston native finally received much-wanted medical feedback permitting him to once again play football. While he may have had the medical approval, getting back on the team was not entirely Eurysthee’s decision. Palmer needed to consult and gain the blessing of his family.
“I coached him in high school when he was a freshman and sophomore (at Chavez High School). I coached his older sister in track, and his older brother Sean was our seven-on-seven football coach,” Palmer said. “I got real close to his mom and his family.”
Brian Eurysthee has received an ample amount of playing time in TJC’s last four games, rushing the ball 33 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns, while also scoring another touchdown off a 16-yard reception from Tyriq Rollison against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. He is averaging 5.33 yards per carry, and with any luck, he will continue his success at TJC’s homecoming game against Kilgore.
“I never imagined it. It is a blessing for me to be on the field once again after two years of being off,” said Eurysthee.