Nearly three months later, I can laugh about it.

But I still can’t watch it.

Well, the above video I can watch. This was from my perspective the late October day when a herd of Division I football players trampled me in a (literal) cloud of smoke, leaving me with a broken rib, a few bumps and bruises and the embarrassment of having this happen in front of more than 7,000 people.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 2.19.08 PM copyThe video I can’t watch was shot from behind me. I barely mustered the courage to look at this screen cap taken by a friend who continues to enjoy the fact that he has seen this video. That crumpled mess in the middle, slightly to the right, eating a face full of artificial turf? That’s me.

Why was I there? Why did I put myself in position for possible death? How do I still have a vertebrae and the ability to speak clearly?

Short answer for all of this — it was Campbell University’s Homecoming game, and I was there with my family. I walked down to the field to get photos and a quick cell video of the introductions. I knew there’d be fireworks … I was not aware of the smoke machine. Or that said machine would engulf me and hide me from well-padded college athletes.

And it hurt. It hurt like a bastard. In all, I was kneed, stepped on and fallen on by about six players. Adrenaline and the will to live kicked in enough to get me up on my feet and out of there before more players arrived. I’ve never been in a car accident before, but I imagine the feeling is very similar — helplessness, pain, panic, that eery slow-motion effect of it all.

The head contusions had a short-term effect. I don’t remember talking to a few people who checked on me immediately afterward, nor do I remember calling my wife in the stands to tell her I was OK. A few hours later, the rib pain started to creep in, and X-rays that night confirmed I had a rib fracture.

As of this day, three months later, I’m back to full health. A broken rib is no joke, but the brunt of that lasted a little over two weeks. The only lingering effect is mental — I likely have an unnatural fear of smoke machines, which rules me out as a guest at future 80s hair band concerts.

I also can’t watch the video of it happening to me. I’d like to live out my remaining 70 years (yes, I’ll live to be 110) without watching myself get trampled on like a rodeo clown.

— Billy Liggett

Advertisements