Chandler McBride of Three Rivers (MI) High School was a two-sport standout before his athletic career was instantly taken from him after he severed his spinal cord this past summer diving into the shallow end of a friend’s pool. The six-foot, 190 tight end/defensive end became paralyzed from the chest down.
And while his high school career was supposed to end this year, the Detroit Lions made sure he got one last play.
Lions’ Senior Vice President of Communications Bill Keenist learned of McBride’s injury and visited him several times at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their relationship became public after Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel saw Chandler’s mother, Monica McBride, pictures of the two on Facebook. Earlier this week, Seidl reported that McBride was called in to watch the Lions’ Saturday walk-through before their week 17 matchup against the Bears.
Head coach Jim Schwartz called McBride’s name from across the field and second-year running back Mikel LeShoure ran across the field to wheel McBride back to the Lions’ offensive huddle. Matthew Stafford called McBride’s number on a mock fourth-and-goal play.
Calvin Johnson lined up wide to the right and McBride took his spot as a fullback in the I-formation. ”I about stood up but, naturally, couldn’t,” Chandler told the Free Press. ”I looked at the linemen and said, ‘Guys, please block for me. They got some big guys over there.’”
Great gesture by the Lions, headed by their PR guru Bill Keenist. It’ll be something that McBride remembers the rest of his life.
After the play, the players gathered around McBride, who led them out of practice with a “Lions on three. One, two, three. Lions!”
Which leads me to something that we haven’t been able to say about the Lions too often this year. Great job, guys.