Neil Parry of the San Jose State Spartans had waited nearly three years after undergoing amputation of his lower right leg to play football again. And on September 18, he realized his goal when the Spartans finally forced Nevada to punt in the fourth quarter.
“Parry lined up over right tackle Carl LaGrone, who doubles as a starting linebacker, and in a matter of seconds, the ball was in the air. LaGrone fought off Parry’s block, outran him downfield and tackled Jamall Broussard after a two-yard gain,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The enthusiastic crowd chanted Parry’s name as he came onto the field and as he returned after the short play. He received a standing ovation when his name was announced and again as he left the field, noted the Associated Press. Parry’s comeback was thrilling for his fans and family. Media coverage–local, national, and world–has been intense. In fact, the list was so long of media representatives waiting to interview him that The O&P EDGE wasn’t able to get an interview by press time.
The game culminated a long journey from the time Parry suffered a compound fracture during a game against the University of Texas-El Paso October 14, 2000. Life-threatening infections led to amputation of his lower right leg nine days later. Parry has undergone 25 operations, plus clearing insurance red tape, to be able to play again.
However, Parry was disappointed in the play. “I didn’t hit anybody,” he said, according to the Mercury News. “I wanted to do my job better than I did.” The Spartans lost to the Wolf Pack 42-30.
This perfectionism and determination has carried Parry to the point of being, as far as known, the first non-kicker with a prosthetic limb ever to suit up for NCAA football.
Parry’s prosthetist is a perfectionist and he loves a prosthetic challenge. “I’m very meticulous in trying to help people upgrade as much as I can, and with Neil, the sky’s the limit,” he says.
Neil’s football leg includes a high-tech carbon graphite suction socket with supracondylar suspension. Auxiliary suspension is provided by a pin. He has a tight plug fit now; the leg is definitely holding suspension. The prosthesis includes a high-impact, energy-storing Renegade foot from Freedom Innovations. “He walks better in this foot and looks more natural.” The entire prosthesis weighs the same or less than just Parry’s previous feet alone. He put a CTi ACL knee brace from Innovation Sports over the top for stabilization and also includes an Alpha® liner from Ohio Willow Wood. “It’s a marriage of several companies’ products as I try to make the perfect leg. I know I’ll never get the totally perfect leg, but I want to keep on trying.”
Parry also has had the Ertl surgical procedure, which Synergy feels has enhanced his use of the prosthesis. In fact, his prosthetist is so enthusiastic about the Ertl Procedure that he plans to join with other healthcare professionals to present lectures to surgeons regarding the technique.
What does Parry’s football future hold? More chances to see action are in the works, according to Coach Fitz Hill, quoted in the Mercury News. “We’re looking to expand his involvement on special teams as much as possible,” Hill said. “He’s practicing with other units, such as the kickoff teams.”
Football runs in Parry’s family–his older brother, Josh, is a fullback for the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad and was the Spartans’ team captain and star linebacker when Neil was injured. Commenting on Neil’s determination, Josh Parry said, as quoted by the Associated Press, “I love the game. But I just don’t know if I have what he has.” The rest of this football season will doubtless see more action from a guy who couldn’t quit–despite amputation.
Courtesy of The O&P EDGE Magazine
– ESPN – story
– LA Times – article
– The Spartan Daily – article
– The NY Time – article