The Hill Chris Climbed: The Gridiron Heroes Story (2012) - full transcript

The compelling, heart-wrenching story of high school football star Chris Carnales, who's life was dramatically altered when he broke his neck in a football game leaving him paralyzed. Chris soon learned of others who suffered similar injuries and, with the help of his father, he overcame tremendous physical and emotional pain to start an organization with one goal in mind: get immediate help to other victims and their families. He called it Gridiron heroes.

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NARRATOR:
Football.

A uniquely American sport.

It defines so many young men's
lives.

It gives them a platform to
build from,

A place to learn,

A way to think about themselves
and the other players around
them.

MIKE DITKA:
Football is one of the great
spectator sports,

And part of the reason is, it is
a gladiator sport.

DENNIS GREEN:
The strategy,
with the movement of the ball,

All these things that make it
such a beautiful game.



MIKE DITKA:
People do hit each other,

and no one wants to take that
part out of the game.

DEACON JONES:
It's the greatest teacher in the
world if he stayed

Because he learns teamwork.

He learns hardwork,
determination,

competitive spirit.

Those five points are the points
that make a champion,

And they make a champion
football player,

champion senator,

champion president,

champion Corporate Exec.
whatever it is.

The harder you have to train in
life to prepare for something,

The better person you
become.

ANNOUNCER:
You run a route across the
middle against this defense,



You do so at your own risk with
Kam Chancellor in there.

NARRATOR:
But now, football finds
itself at a crossroads.

The physical nature of the game.

The very thing that makes it
such a great training ground

for young men is being
re-examined and considered.

And the effect on the sport is
unknowable.

The film you are about to watch
is about much more

than football.

It's about strength, It's about
overcoming.

It's about everything the game
of football is suppose to teach

the men who play it.

In towns across America during
the football season,

the lights come on every Friday
night.

And our most fearless kids step
onto a field

with a level of violence that
can shatter bodies.

And for some cause them to never
take another step.

This is the story of one of
those kids.

How he turned tragedy into
grace.

This is the story of the
Gridiron Heroes.

What is football?

Football is beautiful.

Football is massively popular.

Every Friday night in the fall,
over 1 million boys

having survived a summer's worth
of two-a-days

don pads and prepare to take
the field.

Every year nearly 40 million
tickets are sold

to NCAA Division 1 football
games.

Last year, over 100 million
people tuned in to watch

the Super Bowl,

making it the number 1 rated
television program of all time.

JERRY JONES:
13 of the 14 highest viewed
shows this year in television

were NFL football games.

NARRATOR:
Football is an undeniable
constant in the fabric

of American life,

And for many, football culture
defines American culture.

It's in our blood. It's in our
kids.

It's the great American sport.

It brings us together. It tears
us apart.

It builds character and
self-esteem.

It makes men out of boys. It
creates.

Football is the ultimate team
sport.

You have to be conscious you got
a responsibility to everyone.

AL MICHAELS:
I find the game to be very
compelling.

You know a lot of life time
relationships are forged

But sometimes it destroys.

Concussions, seizures, broken
bones,

and for some, their life is
changed forever.

MIKE DITKA:
I think the game is a great
game.

Nobody ever wants to see anybody
get hurt.

Unfortunately, in football,
people do get hurt.

DEACON JONES:
Injuries can occur. They can
occur. I can't soften that blow.

No matter what I tell you, I
cannot soften that blow.

There are moments when the
violence embedded in the game

can take an unthinkable toll.

CHRIS CANALES:
Before the game
even started,

I was with my girlfriend at the
time,

I just had this weird
feeling...

That something was going to
happen.

She was like,
'Why don't you not play?'

So I told her, 'I'm gonna
play it's our last home game.

If we win, we go to playoffs.'

COACH MIKE KIPP:
The game was a special game.

It was the last game of
the regular season.

It was a game we needed to
win

in order to get into the
playoffs.

EDDIE CANALES:
My wife and I were at the game.

Chris was basically having the
game of his life.

CHRIS:
I had a great night.

EDDIE CANALES:
He was always the
smallest.

COACH KIPP:
He was about 125 pounds,
playing high school football,

But his heart took up most of
his chest.

CHRIS [V.O.]:
And I was having a really
good game.

COACH [V.O.]:
He made several touch down
saving tackles

EDDOE [V.O.]: 8 tackles, 5 solo
tackles

COACH [V.O]:
He had an interception in
the endzone.

EDDIE:
He had a sack. Uh he was
all over the place.

COACH KIPP:
Unbelievable game.
Probably the game of his life.

EDDIE:
Came up on that one tackle

CHRIS:
And then um everything
changed from there.

COACH KIPP:
Midway through the fourth
quarter, just a routine play

um running back cuts
back, Chris is there.

CHRIS:
He was going one way; I
was going the other,

trying to do a touchdown saving
tackle.

COACH KIPP:
He goes in low, and Chris's head
hit about waist high.

CHRIS [V.O.]:
Everything just slows down like
you are doing a slow motion.

Going a 180 and kind of just
fall to the ground

and trying to get up, hearing
the crowd go silent

and then, seeing your teammates
trying to come get you up

and you can't move and oh I knew
right away.

PITA CANALES:
When the doctor cleared the room
and he said he had to talk to us

then the seriousness came about,
and that's when we knew.

EDDIE [V.O]:
And the doctor told
us and gave us... need a word...

PITA [V.O.]:
That Chris had broken his neck.

EDDIE [V.O.]:
We were called into the room,
and the doctor told us,

and gave us, you know, the word,
that uh...

Chris would be paralyzed from
the shoulders down.

NARRATOR:
As Chris lay motionless
on that field for 19 minutes,

It became clear he was
fighting for his life.

Chris had suffered a spinal cord
injury,

and even if he survived the next
few days,

nobody in that stadium could
have a true understanding

for the challenges Chris and his
family were going to face.

BOBBY HOSEA:
I think about the
children that are paralyzed.

These little boys and I think
about their parents,

and I can only imagine their
first thought is,

I can't die now.

I can't die now.

Because whose going to look out
for him if I'm gone.

That's what we're talking about.

EDDIE:
We were not prepared
for...

What we were going to see.

I think the reality of the
injury

and the seriousness of the
injury, really set home.

And we just sat there and cried.

COACH KIPP [V.O]:
I still talk to kids on
that team

that are affected by his injury.

You know they feel like it's
their fault.

COACH KIPP:
There were two kids that missed
tackles before he got to Chris.

They feel like it's their fault.

I had one kid that blew an
assignment.

He went the wrong way. He said
'Coach, I should've tackled him.

I went the wrong way.'

So there are several people's
lives that were affected

By...by that...by that one play.

CHRIS:
Well I just went downward,
just shut down.

I didn't want to go to class. I
didn't want to do anything.

PITA:
Because he knew, no one
knew what he was going through.

We didn't know what he was going
through.

CHRIS:
You are first injured, you
feel so useless that you feel

I rather die than not be able to
do anything, you know?

You just start thinking about
everything.

You think about life in general,
and then um you think about

what's life going to be further
on down the road,

Being in a wheel chair and being
paralyzed.

So I mean there is a lot when
you are just stuck in your room,

there's a lot to think about,

and if you don't get your mind
off it,

then you are just going to dwell
on it.

So I mean depression really eats
you up.

NARRATOR:
From a four sport athlete with
three college football offers,

to simply fighting to stay
alive, Chris was being pushed

to his mental and physical
breaking point.

CHRIS:
When I was in ICU, I
flat lined twice.

EDDIE:
We almost lost Chris on
three seperate occasions.

CHRIS:
My graduation night on one
of the medications I was on

I um I developed four episodes
of seizures in my brain,

and I was eating a piece of
apple pie

And it just went off and I ended
up choking

And passing away for a little
bit

and my dad revived me.

EDDIE:
If the Lord had wanted him
by his side,

He had three chances to take
him.

He was here for a reason

COACH KIPP:
About a year after Chris's
injury,

he went to another
football game

CHRIS:
My dad knew I wasn't doing
too good with depression

So he took me to what we
loved in football

And um went to a State
Championship game.

COACH KIPP:
It was the first time
he'ld really been out

[Marching Band Music]

And all of the sudden...

CHRIS:
Then we witnessed another
spinal cord injury.

COACH KIPP:
I called Eddie and said did you
hear that someone else got hurt.

And he said we were there.

COREY FULBRIGHT:
They were at the game, and they
watched the play when I got...

When I hit the
guy, I broke my neck.

CHRIS:
Seeing Corey Fulbright go
down, snapped me out of it

And the first thing I went to do
is go help.

COREY:
Chris told his dad they
needed to help us .

COACH:
Chris told his dad,

EDDIE:
"Dad, we got to go help
him.

I know what he's going to go
through"

CHRIS:
It's really hard to get
through this injury alone.

COREY:
So they started Gridiron
Heroes then.

NARRATOR:
Chris had discovered
his purpose.

Through their own great
tragedy,

Chris and his father decided to
reach out and lend a hand

to those dealing with the
impossible,

But what could they do?

They weren't doctors or
therapists.

What did they have to offer?

Chris didn't have to struggle
long for an answer.

He offered himself. His heart
and soul,

His compassion and
understanding.

Eddie and Chris. Father and Son
formed Gridiron Heroes with a

simple and powerful mandate

To help all those young men who
go down on the football field

with catastropic spinal cord
injuries.

Chris and Eddie's goal is to
help the football player

and his family get through what
will in the end

be the most difficult challenge
they will ever face.

And before long people began to
take notice of Chris and Eddie's

hard work.

One of the first to support them
was Red McCombs,

philanthropist and entrepreneur,
and former owner of the

San Antonio Spurs and Denver
Nuggets Basketball teams,

And the Minnesota Viking's NFL
Football Team.

RED MCCOMBS:
Once you have a great tragedy,

Regardless of what the tragedy
is in your life,

Your minister is going to
respond,

Your friends are going to
respond,

The family is going to respond,

But there is no response like
someone whose been there

And when you get a response from
someone whose been there

You help a brother. There's no
way around it.

Percentage wise, there's
probably not going to touch

Your family, but then we all
know if it touches any one of us

It really touches all of us.

DR WISE YOUNG:
There's one thing
that every doctor hates,

And that's to be helpless, to do
absolutely nothing

for a condition like a spinal
cord injury.

JAMES GUMBERT:
When you get a
disability, it happens to you

Uh, as opposed to maybe being
born with it, you don't get...

Just you doesn't get the
disability,

everyone around you gets it.

Your family, your friends, and
that anger you know um

that we get and everybody goes
through

is something that uh you know a
lot of your family and friends

feel too.

They get angry about the fact
that this has happened

to their child or their brother
or best friend,

And so it's a big deal, and
there's not a giant guide book

to go through.

GRANT TAEFF [V.O]:
From our own experience, uh
1979,

we had a player by the name
of Kyle Woods from Dallas, Texas

get a head-to-head,
helmet-to-helmet contact

in a practice, and the two
guys went down

And Kyle's neck was fractured,
and he was a quadriplegic

from that moment forward. He was
19 years old.

I talked to every coach that I
hear about and that I know about

that has catastrophic injury

on his team, and I always make
sure they know I'm here for them

that if there are any questions
they have.

Because it's such a traumatic
thing that everybody is going

through, and the coach is the
leader

And he has to handle. He has to
handle working with the family,

the youngester that was
injured.

He has to deal with the
community.

He has to deal with his own team
and his coaches

who are many times are in
traumatic shock

when they see something like
that happen.

NARRATOR:
David Edwards first
team all-area defensive back

for Madison High School in San
Antonio, Texas,

was paralyzed on the field
during the first round

play-off game in 2003.

EDDIE:
Chris and David were
like brothers.

CHRIS:
I could tell little things like
he was cold or something

Or I would ask him,
"Dude are you cold?"

And he would like kind of do
this.

So I went and got a nurse get
him a blanket.

EDDIE:
They got closer and
closer, and...

And David would come to the
house to do some treatments

here at the house.

DAVID:
Chris and Eddie of course
helped me out a lot.

CHRIS [V.O.]:
We would always go out to the
games every friday night.

We'd always invite everybody to
go out,

And David took to heart what we
were doing.

DAVID:
To that one big dream of
walking again so...

EDDIE [V.O]:
David...uh...he had been
fighting pneumonia.

Pneumonia - for our kids- is
something that we fear.

With the level of injury that
they have,

They no longer have the chest
muscles to cough...

EDDIE:
To get out you know all
the fluid in their lungs.

The congestion can be really
tricky.

He was fighting pneumonia for
about a year.

He had been in and out of the
hospital fighting pneumonia.

Several months in a row, and
he gave it his best.

CHRIS:
He had gotten so weak from
fighting it.

Being in and out of the hospital
all the time,

And it finally got the best of
him, so...

NARRATOR:
When the Gridiron
Heroes get word...

that a player has been injured,

Chris, Eddie, and a dedicated
team pack up and find their way

to them and begin the long hard
process of helping the fallen

player and his family adjust to
tragedy.

KYLE CHANDLER:
It's opening up your heart.

I mean it's taking all the pain
he's gone through and sharing it

with someone else and helping
that person get through

their pain. That's certainly...
It can't be easy.

I mean he's got to relive
everything he went through.

Every time he's helping people
out.

CHRIS:
The questions...the parents...
and they are going to ask.

So we don't...we don't
concentrate on the injury part,

We concentrate on how to help
them.

BRAD LELAND:
Because it's an incredible thing
for a kid to be playing

and the next thing not only is
his life possibly changed

forever, but his family's life
is changed.

CHRIS:
My dad gets calls... 2, 3,
4 in the morning.

How do you do this? What do I
do if this happens?

BRAD LELAND:
It's absolutely unbelievable
that he gives that much...

and the strength that it must
take for him not only...

overcome what he's dealing with,
but to go try and help others.

I think he's unbelievable.

KYLE CHANDLER:
Every time you meet someone who
opens their heart up that much.

Everyone around them opens
theirs up a little bit more too.

It's just the way it goes.

CHRIS:
Our door is open to
anybody, and we uh...

no matter what time of
the day.

1...2 o'clock in the morning
that's a down time...

PITA:
That's a quiet time, and that's
when you really start thinking,

And it all starts coming into
play.

I mean he and his dad were in
Dallas just this past weekend,

BRAD LELAND:
Helping a kid whose
just become part of this

Gridiron Heroes.

A new kid who went down from
pinkston High School in Dallas

Went down two weeks ago, and
Chris and his dad were

immediately on the scene to help
him and his family...

which is what they do, help
these people understand...

What it's going to be like, and
give them hope.

KYLE CHANDLER:
They help people go through all
the stages, all the Bureaucracy

And everything that has to take
place.

You know not just the emotional
pain of everything,

But the logistics of what you
have to do...

to get through this stuff
with all this paperwork...

and all that too.

The question that you ask is
answered...

as soon as you meet these guys.

You know you meet some people,
and they are givers.

EDDIE:
It's very hard to
comprehend what...

...how your life is
going to change.

And that was one of the things
and one of the reasons

uh behind Gridiron Heroes.

Is that when we were going
through this,

there was really no help. I
mean there was no guidance.

PITA:
That's something
that people don't realize

Is that just a little change:

Is the door wide enough to get a
wheelchair in?

What about the bathroom? Can he
get into a bathroom?

EDDIE:
Part of what we do with
some of the families...

is to help them get through that
first year.

Uh because you feel like you're
all by yourself.

When...you have to understand...

when someone suffers spinal cord
injury...

There's breathing problems,

There's urinary tract
infections,

Loss of valve and bladder
control,

Autonomic Dysreflexia, which
affects your blood pressure

It's um...It's something that
can be fatal.

The change is dramatic.

It's probably one of the most
serious traumas...

that an individual can go
through.

Because it affects your
nervous system.

And then once that is affected
well then...

Everything else is affected
along with it.

JARED'S MOTHER:
He's been playing football
since he was 3

It was the first football game
that I actually missed.

I said...well Jared good luck
and play hard.

He was like, 'Ok Mom', gave
me a kiss and...

about seven thirty,
eight o clock...

I got a phone call saying that
Jared had been injured.

They were about to rush
him to Baylor.

When I got there, the
trauma team had already made it

and they...they came out and
explained to me what was going
on.

Said that he had broken his neck
and that he was paralyzed from
the neck down.

So...

The reality for the doctor
says 'zero'.

But for me I've seen my son walk
several times in my dreams.

He would say, 'Mom even if I
don't get to walk again

I want to be an architect.
So just have them fix my hands'.

'Have them fix my hands cuz I
want to be an architect'.

'I can draw'.

He was like,
'Save your money'

OK hun, I'm gonna save
my money.

And I walked out of the room
and I walked around the corner

and I prayed and I cried
and I prayed.

He's my only son.

My only son.

What spinal cord injury does is
it disconnects your brain

from the body below the
injury site.

JAMES GUMBERT:
The things that guys in chairs
worry about...

...It's been my experience...

...is will I ever walk again?

Will I be able to have
sex again?

And what the heck
has just happened to me?

KYLE CHANDLER:
I was unaware before I
started making this program

of how many high school kids
across the country, every year,

get injured and are paralyzed.

DR. WISE YOUNG:
About half of people with spinal
cord injury get severe pain

And a lot of people
don't realize this.

JAMES GUMBERT:
When you come back after
a disability or trauma injury

and you say, 'Hey I'm just gonna
run to the refrigerator,

open it up and get me
something to drink'.

You can't do it.

Or, 'I'm gonna run in here
and go to the bathroom'

And you can't get into your
own bathroom in your own house.

Because the door
is not wide enough.

And all of the sudden,
this place that was safe for you

has now become impossible.

EDDIE:
You are going to have to turn
him every two hours

And if you don't do those
pressure releasing methods
bascially

You can get a big red spot
that's a pressure sore

It can go all
the way to the bone.

Some start out the size of an
eraser.

But get to the size of a
grapefruit.

And it can be very, very hard
to get rid of.

DR. WISE YOUNG:
If you don't take care of
yourself very, very carefully

the likelihood that you might
die of an infection or

some complication of spinal cord
injury is there.

You have to be very careful.

NARRATOR:
The Gridiron Heroes work
tirelessly to raise money

through public outreach
and events.

Like golf tournaments,

and this, Hollywood style
benefit

NARRATOR:
Devin was paralyzed on the field
in 2007.

He had to take a Greyhound bus
with his mother to one such
event.

But thanks to the Gridiron
Heroes and their numerous,

generous supporters

Devin and his mother would not
have to take the bus home.

DEVIN'S MOTHER [over PA]:
I have accepted my role
and I thank God

that I have my son and I have
the ability to take care of him

So I thank God for my new role
in my child's life.

I had no support, my family
doesn't live here

and strangers came and helped
us.

So, don't ever give up on hope.

Stay positive and things will
change.

And there are people that love
others just like Eddie and his
family

There are still people that
really love people and care.

But keep us in your prayers and
Gridiron Heroes

so they can continue

and hopefully they don't have to
help too many more people.

NARRATOR:
But even as the Gridiron Heroes
work tirelessly to help the

fallen players off the field...

...tragedy continues to occur.

Paul Williams. I play wide
receiver for the Tennessee
Titans.

My brother Curtis...

...I kind of get choked up
talking about it.

He played at the
University of Washington

and ended up with his
spinal cord injury

I was actually at
the game at Stanford.

He went with his head down,
and um...

kind of got rocked back
a little bit.

At first, I was um...
I kinda laughed a little bit.

I'm like, 'Oh Curt's
gonna be mad when
he gets up from that

because he's known as the big
hitter.

And he didn't get up.

I just remember that feeling,
it was kind of like I got

sick to my...
sick to my stomach.

He was in a coma for two weeks.

He couldn't even breathe on his
own.

Being in the profession that I'm
in, it's like every time you put

on your cleats, every time
you put on your pads...

I think about my brother,
Curtis.

There's not a day that goes by

where I don't think about that.

And, um...I mean,
it's hard not to think about it.

It's something that happens.

NARRATOR:
For better or for worse

football is an extremely
violent game.

My name is David 'Deacon' Jones.

Born in Eatonville, FL in the
year of our Lord, 1938.

I rose out of the ashes of
segregation

into the best defensive end to
ever play this game.

I come to try and tear your
damn head off.

That is why I am a lot reluctant

about advising anybody to play
this game.

Because I know what my mental
capacity was.

I'd take you down in a minute.

I'd put you in the hospital in a
minute and didn't care nothing
about it.

MIKE DITKA:
After the fact we can all say,
'Well we don't want anybody to
get hurt'.

You know, that's probably the
risk of the playing the game.

And I think people like it
because they realize it is a
gladiator sport.

That's just the nature of the
game.

Collisions happen fast, they are
violent, the players are strong.

They are quick. They are coming
at you with a purpose.

DENNIS GREEN:
Football is definitely faster
today than it was 20 years ago.

And so the collisions I think
are bigger now than they were 20
years ago.

DEACON JONES:
I've seen 70, 80
year-old grandmothers

up in the stands saying,
'Kill him! Take his head off!'

Because that's what
they've come to see.

But then they'll be the first
ones,

when somebody goes down with a
serious injury...

...a tear comes
out of their eye.

You understand what I mean?

Because, you know, they play
both sides of the fence.

SPORTS FAN:
It's like watching two donkeys
fight over an apple, you know?

We get serious about football,
you know.

We're gonna go there to put some
hurt on somebody.

JERRY JONES:
One of our coaches,
Wilson Matthews,

was asked to give the prayer.

He said,
'Protect these boys'

'Have them play as good
as they can'

'Have them represent their
state well'

'Amen.'

'Now nail them to the cross.'

ANNOUNCER 1:
Players on both teams
have taken a knee.

ANNOUNCER 2:
Brings back the
reality of the game itself

and that it is a collision sport
and a violent sport.

ANNOUNCER 1:
He's talking to a family member

ANNOUNCER 2:
It's a sick feeling, uh,
in your stomach.

DEACON JONES:
And these are hard words here

I can understand any parent out
there who said, 'No my kid ain't
gonna play this game.'

JERRY JONES:
Football causes you to do very
unnatural things.

The natural thing is to get out
from in front of 300 pounds.

Not get in front of it.

MIKE DITKA:
If you have improper
technique...

...and you get your head caught
down or to the side the wrong
way...

You have a very good chance
of hurting yourself.

DEACON JONES:
You think people go to the
automobile races

to watch the cars circle
the track?

They go to watch the accident.

So the more violent you make
things,

the more people come to
participate.

I threw an interception and...

tackled the guy and broke my
neck.

It was an option and I went to
go get the safety so I was full
speed.

From me to the safety and ran
heads up and my neck went...

...just went back and snapped.

And from there, just couldn't
move.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
It will cause
neurological damage.

There will be stretching, there
may be bleeding.

There's all sorts of bad,
you know, THINGS, that happen

when your brain sloshes into
the side of your skull.

DEACON JONES:
We're here as a unit...

...to destroy this football team

Now, how do you plan to destroy
this football team?

You know what you got to do.
You got to out-hit 'em.

You got to out-condition 'em.

You got all these things to beat
them at.

And how you gonna fall in love
with the guy?

It's like I see these guys
circling with their prayer.

Ok. You go right ahead.
I'll give you 30 seconds to
pray.

Go right ahead if you think
prayer gonna help you today.

Go right ahead.

This ain't about no prayer here.

If you ain't trained this week
I'm gonna whip your brains out.

You and your Bible.

So, in terms of what happens
when you have the head to head
contact.

Two objects are coming at each
other from opposite directions

It is like two cars coming
together head on head collision

It's bad to lead with your head
mainly because

You're gonna have a higher
incidence of getting a brain
injury from it.

Now, if you are bigger and
faster and you do hit harder,

like a Mack Truck
hitting a Volkswagen

Then you're not going to be
injured.

The Volkswgen is going to be
smashed.

So there's danger every
way around.

If you have a grandson that's
a Volkswagen...

...I wouldn't let him
play the game.

Youngsters are more susceptible
to injury,

they recover more slowly,

and forces that would not cause
injury in an adult,

do cause injury in a youngster.

So the young brain is more
easily traumatized.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
For years and years
and years,

football celebrated the guys who
delivered the big hits.

whether they made them legally
or not.

And whether they made the
recklessly or not.

What mattered is whether you
left the guy inert on the
ground

after you tackled him.

And they would teach you how to
run.

They would teach you how to
pass.

They would teach you how to
throw.

But they let you tackle
however you wanted.

Or they'd say, even worse,
'Put a hat on him'

That was the word.

'Put a hat on him.'

Put your hat on him.

Put your helmet in their gut.

Which was indescribably
dangerous both for your neck

and for your head.

And there really...stopped...

The proper tackling technique
wasn't really taught very much.

DENNIS GREEN:
What we've always tried to say
is, you know,

'See what you hit and
hit what you see.'

And what that will do is make
you keep your head up.

And most of the injuries,
they occur from the surprise

hits that occur when the head is
in a vulnerable position.

DR. CANTU:
The majority of
concussions in football

occur when there is
head-to-head contact.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
But the idea of
repetitive concussions

taking an overall toll

is entirely different.

The concern there is that
if you get a concussion

and you let it heal

and then you get
another concussion

and you let it heal and another
concussion and you let it heal

you become more susceptible to
them and you get 11 or 12

well that's going to have an
accumulative effect

that you might not have had if
you only had one concussion.

Also, we're not even sure if you
get lots of sub-concussive blows

maybe a thousand 'almost
concussion' blows

but not quite concussion blows,
add up to have deleterious
effects.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:
When I was young
and played football briefly

there were a couple of times
where I'm sure

that ringing sensation
in my head

and the need to sit down
for a while

might have been a
mild concussion.

And at the time you didn't think
anything of it.

The awareness is improved today,
but not by much.

BOBBY HOSEA:
And everybody says,
'Oh, it's a tragic accident.'

It's tragic.
But it's not an accident.

If it doesn't change, the game
is going to die at the roots

because nobody's intelligence
is gonna let their kid play.

And that's the problem.

Coaches don't have coaches.

There's no system of training
that forces them to do

what's best for the kids.

ANNOUNCER 1:
Watch the hit by Cockran.

Oh, you've gotta eject
Theiren Cockran.

That is 'targeting'.

He drops his head,
he launches

and it moves up into
the head area.

I cannot believe Cockran
was not called for targeting

and not only ejected from this
game but then he would be

ejected from the first half
of the second

ANNOUNCER 2:
And he can barely stand up now.

ANNOUNCER 1:
Boy, they have just got to get
him out the ballgame.

ANNOUNCER 2:
Yeah, I'm totally with you.
He's gotta come out.

ANNOUNCER 1:
Jay Morris cannot be going back
into this game.

This young man looked
groggy after that hit.

He's being put back
on the field.

He can barely stand up.

I...I am...
This...this is not good player
management.

We've talked about player safety
in this game.

Guys getting hit in the head.

This is atrocious to me.

This is not good player
management and player safety by
Michigan.

TV MAN:
One of the mantras that
people have talked about

who have been very serious about
this issue for some time is...

When in doubt, you sit it out.

Because this is not the sort of
thing you want to take a chance
with.

If somebody takes a second hit
after suffering a concussion

We're not just talking about
being out for a few seconds

we're talking about having a
catastrophic brain injury.

Even dying from that.
That's Second Impact Syndrome.

And that's exactly what you
are trying to prevent.

And I think that they fell down
on the job when it came to this
particular player.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
Second Impact Syndrome [SIS] and
the effect of cumulative hits

over time are entirely different
things.

SIS takes place in rare cases
where a concussion

has not healed and then another
hit, even a relatively

minor one, causes a cascade of
just terrible, terrible events

inside the brain that cause the
brain inside the skull to swell.

And it swells so much that it
tries to escape from the skull.

And of course it can't.

It can't go anywhere.

And you die.

It's a very quick death.

The cumulative effect of
concussions can be more

of a slow one over decades.

BOBBY HOSEA:
There are people that think that
their kid is going to get a

scholarship.

They think that their kid may
play Pro Football.

It's not gonna happen.

85% of youth football players
don't even play high school

football.

one tenth of one percent of
eveybody that wants to

play Pro Football,
play Pro Football.

One tenth!
Of one percent!

And there's a three and a half
year career.

That's not a career.
That's not even a good temp job.

Three and a half years is
nothing.

So, you're gonna have a life
long of injuries

for something that's not even
going to happen for you.

DR. CANTU:
I'm also a parent and
so I obviously have a

passion for this area

that transcends just the medical
issues.

We're trying to make sports
safer for youngsters.

We're trying to allow youngsters
to enjoy sports.

But have no long term
ramifications

or any inuries coming
out of those sports.

NARRATOR:
Is the game of football too
violent?

Are the risks just too high?

Or should we instead pledge to
honor and support

those who have given their
bodies to the game

And understand that all things

even things that are supposed to
be pure and good

come with risk.

Skiing.

Hockey.

Soccer.

Baseball.

They all have risk.

But while we as adults and
parents have a responsibility

to make sure these games are as
safe as possible

for our children

Many argue the games themselves
should not be condemned.

That too much good
comes from sports.

CHRIS:
Even when I was laying up in the
hospital bed

I was still watching football.

MRS. CANALES:
I've always loved football and
will continue to love football.

COACH:
Football is a great game for
contact

and the physical kind of
activity that young men need.

DR. WISE YOUNG:
It builds personalities, it
builds strenghts,

it builds character.

It's a wonderful game.

EDDIE:
We still love the game of
football.

And I try to always, when I
address coaches and parents,

to make sure that they
understand

we are not out to deter anyone
from playing ball.

MIKE DITKA:
It's given me everything I had

as a player, assistant coach,
a head coach.

So I love the game of football.

JERRY JONES:
I don't think the sun comes up
and ends with the game of
football

although I own the Dallas
Cowboys.

But I do know that it has served
young people

and has been an inspiration and
been a training ground

for millions of young people
over many, many years.

AL MICHAELS:
For kids starting out who are
playing football

they are going to learn a lot
about teamwork.

They're going to learn a lot
about organization

They are going to learn that,
you know, hey,

'If I'm gonna do this...

...I'm a part of a bigger
picture.

I'm one of eleven guys'.

DEACON JONES:
And that's what comes out
of the game.

Nobody remembers how much money
they made from year to year.

But you remember those
different times

that you were with this
group of guys.

And it's a part...
You want your kid to be a part

of the great game.

JERRY JONES:
You can develop an indifference
to pain

or you can develop a 'playing
through being tired'.

And on the way you really call
on a lot of character.

Now, I've heard it said,
'character is not developed

by football or sports, it's just
called upon.'

I disagree with that.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:
And obviously there's a huge
public health interest

in making sure that people are
participating in sports.

But sports is just fundamental
to who we are as Americans

and our culture.

We're competitive,
we're driven,

and sports teaches us about
teamwork and hard work

and what it takes to succeed not
just on the field

but in life.

GRANT TEAFF:
I know that the value of our
game outweighs

the chance that one would have
to become injured.

But it is my responsibility and
our coaches responsibility

and every stakeholder in the
game of football

to do everything in our power to
make this game as safe

as it can possibly be.

And if we do that, then we have
enhanced opportunities

of countless thousands of
young people

to have the same opportunity to
learn from men that they

can love and respect.

Not only how to win but how to
handle losing

and to develop yourself in an
environment,

a team environment,

that creates leadership,
that creates initiative,

that fosters the development
of the person

within that environment.

You bet I recommend football.

JERRY JONES:
You have to have blind faith
to play football.

In your coach. You have to have
blind faith

that if you'll do as instructed,
that while initially

it's not working,
it will work.

And personally, I've called on
it a lot

way beyond football.

DENNIS GREEN:
I think the soul of football
is comraderie.

That's why if you look at the
Ivy League schools

they don't give scholarships.

So guys have to pay their own
way,

they pay 50,000 dollars.

But you have so many tryout for
their freshman football team

all as walk-ons.

And the reason is, the guys that
you meet when you're a freshman

football player are guys that
you're probably going to

know for the rest of your life.

It's that comraderie about the
game that is such a draw.

NARRATOR:
Is there a way to play
football more safely?

to lower the probability of
spinal cord and brain injury?

Right now we need to make
effective steps

that make the game
as safe as possible

so that we can enjoy it.

Because it is America's game.

A lot of these injuries
are led to by

leading with one's head.

And if you do that, you're
putting yourself at risk.

There's no question about that.

DR. CANTU:
In making a proper
tackle...

It should be made with the
hands.

It should be made with the body.

And a large use of the
shoulders.

The hands should never be
behind the head.

The head should never be
lowered.

The head should never be the
initial point of contact.

DR. WISE YOUNG:
And you hit that person with the
top of your head

your spine will break.

Most spinal cord injuries in
football occur

in the act of tackling.

About two-thirds of them.

And tackling improperly.

Tackling with the head down in
what we call

the Axial Lode Position

taking the brunt of the blow to
the vertex of the head.

DR. WISE YOUNG:
When this happens, either bone
or discus

retropulsed into the
spinal cord and it...POP!

DENNIS GREEN:
And the helmet is not a weapon,
it's a protection.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
But as far as the
forces go...

...if you hit someone
with your head

you are more likely to make your
head stop quickly.

You are also very likely to make
the other guy's head go WHOOSH!

And it's gonna create large
accelerations and decelerations

of your head, but your brain
ain't gonna know it.

And it's gonna go, CRACK!

MIKE DITKA:
When you have people
striking with their head

and you have two helmets
colliding

something's gotta give.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
Your head's gonna
stop.

And it's gonna stop fast!

Your skull is going to stop.
BOOM!

DR. CANTU:
The impact causes a violent
shaking of the brain

inside the skull.

MIKE DITKA:
I've had four hip replacements.

I need a shoulder replaced.

I don't know where my mind
will be in ten years

I really don't.

But I think one of the main
concerns

of the people in the game

has to be the safety
of the players

DR. CANTU:
Using the helmet as the
initial point of contact

in blocking and tackling

works in the shorthand for
that particular play

effectively achieving
what you want.

But it is putting
your head and your neck

at greater risk
of long term injury.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

is a progressive, degenerative,
neurological condition

in many ways analogous to
Alzheimer's Disease

although trauma is what
sets it up.

And it leads to a triad of
progressive mental

deteriorations, starting with

recent memory and progressive
over time to

frank dementia.

It involves, also,
loss of impulse control

and a very high incidence
of depression.

Forever, youngsters have
emulated

those who play the sports
at the highest level.

CHRIS COLLINSWORTH [announcing]:
And Al, there was plenty of time
to react on that one.

That is...awful.

That's how people get seriously
hurt in this game.

Kids see that and they think

because it's exciting

that's who they
want to be.

That's how they
want to tackle.

And we fight that
every day.

We get kids who try to

emulate, you know, that action.

It's a battle.
It's a battle.

And it's hard to explain to them
that this guy who's in the Pros,

that should know everything
there is to know about hitting,

that he doesn't.

The payoff is you got a kid
that tackles safely.

And he's gonna have a
healthy life after football.

Some people don't.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
Now the helmet protects you
enough where you can

use your head as a weapon.

And people did.
You know why?

Because it worked.

But it came with a cost.

That a lot of people didn't
recognize until it was too late.

And we're now seeing that cost
manifest itself

in the cognitive impairment

and other problems

that older football players
are experiencing

and some younger ones.

AL MICHAELS:
As a player, you just
have to be taught...

...here are the fundamentals

this is what I need to do
when I'm tackling somebody

or blocking somebody
or being blocked.

ANTHONY MELILLO:
You still see Pros to this day

dropping the heads,
tackling incorrectly,

eyes to the gound.

Because that's the way
they were taught

when they were a youth
and in high school.

That's how they
were taught.

And these youth players,
they look up to

professional athletes.

That's who they want to be.

Their dream goal at this
youth football level

is to be in the NFL.

So they're gonna want to do
what that NFL player does.

JEFF LEETS:
When you think about it

kids are putting on pads
and tackling as young

as seven years old.

Those are babies.

Those are people's babies.

Those are, uh...

They're trusting you as a coach

to do the right thing.

And I think that's the
way coaches feel.

We have a huge responsibility
to those

that we teach and coach.

A great responsibiliy to teach
them the right things,

the right way,
to set the right example.

MIKE DITKA:
I think anything you can do
within the rules

to encourage safety of the
players is encouraged.

I think we have to do whatever
you can do in that area.

I think it is essential
that this happens.

If this doesn't happen,

we're gonna continue to have a
number of injuries

that'll continue to mount
and mount and mount

where people are going to say,
parents are going to say,

'Well, I'm having second
thoughts about letting

my children play the game.'

JEFF LEETS:
Horrible stuff happens when
safety goes

out the window when
it comes to tackling.

MIKE DITKA:
Nobody wants to go
through life paralyzed.

And these things can happen
if you do things the wrong way.

JAMES GUMBERT:
So for me...

where I feel like I've
bottomed out.

was once I got home.

Six months to a year after
my initial injury.

And, and, tried to...
think I was going to come home

and reclaim my life the way that
it was before.

And it wasn't.

There wasn't anything anyone
could do about it.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
Football is going to have to
adapt to recent discoveries

as to the dangers of head
injuries, concussions,

and other things that take
place on football fields.

[TV STATIC]

ANCHORMAN:
A high school player on
Long Island, New York

suffered a head injury
yesterday and died.

He is the third high school
player to die in the past week.

You know, there's been a lot of
talk about concussions

the last couple of years.

And I, I don't think that's
going away anytime soon.

I think we're just starting to
find out more about them.

And it's scary. It is scary.

But for me,
the damage is done.

NEWS REPORT:
Head injuries among
amateurs are not rare

All football players including
high schoolers

Have a 75% chance of
suffering a concussion.

Between 136,000 and
300,000 sustain one

each year.

BRETT FAVRE:
I'm hoping that I'm going to be
the exception and

don't have residual effects.

Then I think, wait, you played
20 years.

I mean, you played.
You were not on a team.

You 'played' for 20 years,
and so...

And you know, great.

But, what have you done
long term?

I don't know.

NEWS REPORT:
Now there are studies being done
on the brains of former NFL

players looking at advanced
dementia.

What they show is three times
the rate of depression

Five times the rate of dementia
in people who have

three concussions or more.

BRITISH NEWS ANCHOR:
These brown blotches mark the
accumulation of

towel protein - an abnormal
substance that can

emerge within the brain after
repeated blows to the head.

TERRY MORAN:
We're going to turn now to the
alarming discovery

providing some answers to the
questions surrounding

the suicide of NFL great
and father of four,

Junior Seau.

NEWS REPORTER:
The night before he shocked
everyone by shooting himself

Seau sent out this short
phone text of love.

And what did he say?

SEAU'S SON:
Just three words.

I love you.

NEWS REPORTER:
A gunshot to the chest.
Some speculating

he knew his brain needed to be
preserved for examination

ABC News and ESPN have learned
exclusively that Seau's brain

showed signs of CTE -
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

the concussion related injury
that is at the center of today's

football safety controversy.

FEMALE NEWS REPORTER:
A shocking suicide by former NFL
player draws attention

to the hard hitting game
of football.

Former Chicago Bears safety,
Dave Duerson

was found dead last Thursday.

He shot himself in the chest
because he told family members

he wanted doctors to study
his brain.

He left a note and text message
asking for his brain to be
studied

Reading: Please see that my
brain is given to the NFL's
brain bank.

TV MAN:
He shot himself in the
chest as well.

It's a very unusal way,
a rare way for one

to commit suicide.

It's hard to talk about but in
Duerson's case

he left that note that Paul was
sort of alluding to saying,

I shot myself in the chest, I'd
like my brain to be studied.

Duerson's brain was studied.

In fact he did have exactly
what he was concerned about.

It is with mixed emotions that
my family and I

stand before you today

It is my greatest hope that his
death will not be in vain

and that through this research

his legacy will live on

and that others won't have to
suffer in the same manner.

NARRATOR:
From the ultimate vision of
speed, strength, and health

to severe mental and physical
disability

In the blink of an eye or the
course of a career

what can be done?

MIKE DITKA:
I think it would be a great
thing to have these clinics

put on by college, Pro,
high school coaches.

where they teach
kids to tackle.

DENNIS GREEN:
I think by emphasizing the
proper techniques

starting with young kids and
the technique of never

using your head as a projectile

never hitting with your head
down

I think if we are able to keep
emphasizing that

then I think we'll
make a big difference.

CODY WILLIAMS:
I'm not saying that I would have
gotten hurt or not

I'm just saying that if a lot of
kids knew the proper way to
tackle

then that would help prevent a
lot of injuries.

Not just neck injuries but also
concussions too because...

a lot of kids
just tackle with their head.

NARRATOR:
There is one man,
Coach Bobby Hosea,

a former UCLA football player
who runs camps that teach

one thing, and one
thing only:

How to tackle more safely.

ALAN SCHWARZ:
There's this fellow
in California

named, Bobby Hosea,

who has all but given his life

to teaching kids how to tackle
more safely.

So that football can continue
in much the same way it

always has with kids getting
hurt less often.

By keeping their head up

and out of the tackle.

Injuries that occur to the
spinal cord,

injuries to the neck,
or concussions

all come from
hitting with your head.

DEACON JONES:
See, I ain't never hit
nobody with my head.

I ain't puttin my head in there.

That's what you
should teach a kid.

Watch the head.
Keep that head up!

That's what you teach him.

MIKE DITKA:
I think that's essential
that they teach it that way.

And if they can teach keeping
the head out of it

or keeping the head up.

Like we say,
'keep the head up'

I think you're gonna have a heck
of a lot less concussions

and neck injuries.

BOBBY HOSEA:
This game is not about
destruction.

This game is about building.

Character.

Physical Fitness.

Toughness.

Intestinal Fortitude.

All those things.

BOBBY HOSEA [O.S.]:
Take it for a ride now!
Go for a ride! Get in the air!

The football players are made
they're not born.

This is an acquired skill.

This is an acquired knowledge.

Hips control the head but
the arms...

accelerate the hips.

And so when the hips accelerate
the head will accelerate.

It will come up and away from
the ball carrier.

And once they learn that...

now there's no longer any fear.

BOY 1:
He teaches how to tackle,
and dip and rip

BOY 2:
Not to use my head in the
tackle

BOY 3:
Keep your head up so you
don't break your neck

BOY 4:
Other kids that come to
this camp

because you can tackle correctly
so you won't get a brain injury

in football

LADY:
I work at a high school so
I watch the high school kids

and I kind of ask them like,
'how do you tackle?'

And they still think its like
head first

BOBBY HOSEA:
Where's the head go?

GROUP:
Up!

BOBBY HOSEA:
Does it go to the side?

GROUP:
No!

BOBBY HOSEA:
Does it go down?

GROUP:
No!

BOBBY HOSEA:
Where do we want the head
every single time?

GROUP:
Up!

BOBBY HOSEA:
Up.

ANTHONY MELILLO:
In the last 20 plus years, good
coaches,

well intentioned coaches have
been saying keep your head up

Just saying keep your head up
isn't enough

There's a distinct difference
between telling a player

"Keep your head up."

vs going through a comprehensive
tackle program that will instill

muscle memory.

They need to go to mandatory
tackle camps

So when it comes game time, when
it comes crunch time,

They don't need to think about,
"Oh I need to keep my head up."

They just do it.

MIKE DITKA:
There should be clinics that
teach them how to tackle

especially at the young ages,
grade school, high school, and

Well... I'll tell you
right now...

You don't practice tackling in
the NFL

That's a foregone conclusion
that you know how to tackle

when you get there.

And you are going to get the guy
on the ground anyway you can.

And I play with a lot of
players

who got the guy on the
ground any way they could.

JEFF LEETS:
Have you ever walked
on to the field

and seen a kid laying
there motionless?

You know, have you ever tried to
help a kid up

and he's dizzy from contact and
he's throwing up

Because his concussion is
already setting in?

Have you ever seen or heard
about a kid breaking his neck

And not being able to move? He's
paralyzed or even worse death.

Because those things happen and
they happen

because people are not
informed or they are ignorant

and they are stubborn and they
don't want to change anything

and that is a problem.

and until we get something in
place such as Bobby's program

It's going to continue.

BOBBY HOSEA:
The only way it can be fixed is
if there is a mandatory

tackle training curriculum.

JEFF LEETS:
It's not about anything but
keeping these kids safe

and making sure that when they
are older

That they look back on this and
it was a positive experience

and that they are healthy and
that they feel good

And they love football.

NARRATOR:
But until the day comes when
brain and spinal cord injuries

Are eliminated from the field
completely,

People like Cody Williams and
his family will need the help

of the Gridiron Heroes.

CODY WILLIAMS [V.O.]:
I could like barely breathe. All
I could do is like blink

That's like the only movement
I had.

CODY'S MOM:
I was always the
first one at the game.

One of the first people at the
game

because I wanted to get the best
seat to see him come out.

I just saw black and then just
fell and couldn't feel anything

You want to hug them and make
everything better,

And I couldn't touch him.

CODY:
Cause I was like crying on
the field

cause I just didn't know
what was going on.

But then I just...it was kind of
hard to breathe and stuff so

It was kind of hard to cry.

So I just stopped crying.

But they were like you have a
really serious break

in your neck and everything

And I was just like...I was like
in shock from it.

I never thought that would
happen, but...

CODY'S MOM:
The Gridiron Heroes reached out
to me while Cody was in ICU

MUSIC:
One by One we fly along

We fly along to the beat of the
drum

The beat of the drum keeps the
spirit alive

CHRIS:
How you doing, man? Chris.

CODY:
Cody. Nice to meet you

CHRIS:
Good to meet you.

EDDIE:
How you doing, Cody? I'm
Eddie. Nice to meet you.

EDDIE:
Alright, Good to see you.

MUSIC:
The beat of the drum keeps
the spirit alive.

Spirit's alive till the day that
you die

Oooooooo

Oooooooo

CODY:
There's a chance I could be
in a wheelchair for

The rest of my life,
and...

But I believe I'll walk again.

I just have a feeling.

NURSE:
Cody is definitely very
competitive by nature.

Football isn't a game where you
just sit out,

and wait on the sidelines for
things to happen.

CHRIS:
What we learn in football
you never give up.

Right? The never quit attitude.

And so we instill that with
the injury.

That we're not going to give up.

CHRIS:
For some reason in my
dream, I'm never in a wheelchair

All my dreams are like I was
before.

Never in a wheel chair but there
are times that in a way

the wheelchair will be with me.

CHRIS [V.O.]:
I had one dream where I was
training for something

I would sling my wheelchair
on the back and run up the hill.

CODY:
I've dreamed that I was at
school again walking.

I've dreamed I was playing
football again.

I've had all like good dreams.

CODY:
Well it's been a little
over two years since my injury,

And I can walk on a treadmill
with a harness on it.

I'm able to walk on a walker
for about 40 feet now.

NARRATOR:
And now after years of
work, the Gridiron Heroes find
themselves

recognized in a way they could
have never dreamed possible.

Eddie Canales and the Gridiron
Heroes have been nominated

for their work as one of
CNN's Top Ten Heroes

of the year.

The star-studded award ceremony
would be held in Los Angeles,

But first, the Canales family
would spend time

with their friends and
supporters

at a surprise party in the
Hollywood Hills.

GROUP:
Surprise!!!

[Clapping and cheering]

[MUSIC]
You're leaving now and I
can't believe

The time arrived much to soon

Then comes the time when I'll be
too...

EDDIE:
It's been neat just to
meet the other Honorees

Um...It's also very humbling

We all have our
passion

for the organizations that we're
working for,

But we all have something in
common and that is...

we're all reaching out toward
to our fellow human beings

And trying to make a difference
and change lives.

And trying to make a difference
and change lives.

We're hoping that what
eventually will come out of this

is that more and more of the
people in the football community

that..that actually love the
game, embrace the game, and...

support the game can see what we
do

how we...how we affect the
lives of these young men,

And that we may be able to get
the help

from within governing bodies of
football...

From the football community in
general

So that we can make a big
difference

in these young men's
lives.

NARRATOR:
And now the moment had
arrived.

It was time to hit the red
carpet

LAURA DERN:
I am very excited to
learn more about Eddie Canales

and his son Chris.

RICK FOX:
Hi, this is Rick Fox
here at the CNN Heroes Awards

celebrating many heroes, but one
in particular,

Eddie Canales and his son,
Chris.

SULLY SULLENBERG:
I'm Captain Sully Sullenberger

And I'm here to hear amazing
stories including those of

Eddie Canales and others.

Hi I'm Holly Robinson Peete

And I want to give a special
shoutout of support to

Eddie Canales, Gridiron Heroes,
and his very brave son Chris.

PIERS MORGAN:
I think Eddie Canales and the
Gridiron Heroes

Absolutely sum up what CNN
Heroes is all about.

This is a shoutout

to Eddie Canales and his son
Chris from Gridiron Heroes

Well Done. Congratulations. Keep
it going.

EDDIE:
To be out here, it is uh...you
know it's come full circle

for us, and...

to get this much attention, walk
the red carpet...

to bring our calls out to the
forefront...

it's just been awesome.

I'm grateful and
I'm blessed to
have them in my life.

For me,
they are my heroes.
I look up to Eddie.

Words can't explain.

To have the honor
of being able to
present him tonight

To have the
honor of having
the chance

To hang out
with their family

To know what
they are all about
was...you know...

It means a lot to me.

REX LINN:
We're glad to be
here...and supporting him.

Be on his side,
we're all on his
team tonight.

So we're...
Chris is the Quarterback
tonight.

KURT WARNER:
That's what I notice with Chris
is that he's not going to allow

what happened to him
hold him down.

He's going to use that tragedy
and...

use it to try to
impact other people.

Yeah.

Chris is a better man now than
he ever was...

Because of what he's
able to do now.

Because of the courage that he
had to say,

'You know what this is a
catastrophe that I suffered,

but I'll live through it again
and again and again and again.

just to make sure all these kids
who suffer the same injury

have someone there for them,
have someone around them.'

CHRIS:
For me, it's...uh...the
hard work I put into

getting my mobility back,
getting uh to move my arms.

And just having a good spirit
about and good attitude about

my injury,

and to be here now is
just totally awesome.

EDDIE:
We cheered these young men
on the football field.

Let's make sure we don't forget
them now. Thank you very much.

COACH KIPP:
The main thing I would
tell Chris is that,

I'm proud of
what he's done to
help other people

that have gone
through what he's
gone through.

And I think
he's showing them,

not only that they
can overcome it,

But that they can acheive in
their life.

CHRIS:
You never know what's
going to happen down the road.

Helping the other guys and
getting to this point,

Where I don't really think about
myself any more.

I think about others... and for
me...It's...

I tell my story and I never
think about myself.

It's not about me anymore.

NARRATOR:
The Gridiron Heroes
didn't win that night.

They didn't have to.

They had already won.

Many more thousands of people
and growing are made aware

of safer ways to play the game.

Because like Chris and Eddie,

the hope is for the
game to go on,

And stay deeply embedded into
the fiber of America.