Normally, I see these stories and read them because they are uplifting. However, normally these type of feel good stories come with media attention, cameras and press. Now, I do not want to sounds like a cold hearted, pessimist who only thinks teams bring in people with life threatening diseases or conditions to look good, but it is true that the media is often asked to attend these types of events.
However, last weekend, media attention was not something the Detroit Lions wanted when they brought Chandler McBride, a life long Lions fan, to practice. During the summer, Chandler was paralyzed from the chest down after a swimming accident in which he broke his neck.
The former football player could not play this year because of the accident.
Chandler was given the chance to attend a Lions practice and game, after Bill Keenist, the Lions’ senior vice president of communications heard about his story this summer. Keenist visited Chandler at the C.S. Mott children’s hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to Keenist, he has been so inspired by Chandler’s upbeat spirit that he has been “profoundly better” since meeting Chandler and his mother.
Keenist got Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions to invite Chandler to a practice and then a game last Sunday.
Chandler sat there, watching intently, amazed how an NFL walk-through was so similar to the ones that he did while playing his junior year at Three Rivers High School.
And then, everybody stopped and Lions coach Jim Schwartz screamed: “Chandler! Chandler!”
The adrenaline started to flow. “I about stood up but, naturally, couldn’t,” Chandler said. “I about crapped my pants.”
Lions running back Mikel Leshoure came running across the field, went up to Chandler and pushed him across the field in the wheelchair. Right into the huddle.
“It was awesome,” Chandler said. “It was unreal. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a football huddle.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford called the play. It was a simulated game situation — fourth-and-goal — and Chandler was getting the ball.
“I looked at the linemen and said, ‘Guys, please block for me,’ ” Chandler said. ” ‘They got some big guys over there.’ ”
And the linemen cracked up.
They set the formation. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson to the right. A fullback in front. And Leshoure set up Chandler at halfback.
Stafford handed Chandler the ball, and he rolled into the end zone — touchdown! — and Chandler’s heart was racing, and he couldn’t stop smiling, and his mom, Monica McBride, was trying to stop shaking, while holding a camera.
The practice was done and the players gathered around Chandler and he broke them down: “Lions on three. One, two, three. Lions!”
McBride went on to stay at the same hotel and on the same floor as the Detroit Lions players and then attended Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.
How was this different from any other feel good story? Well, the Detroit Lions did not publish this story to the media. There were no cameras there, except for the camera of Chandler’s mother. You will most likely not see this story on ESPN’s Sportscenter.
The story only was only delivered to the press because Chandler’s mother, Monica posted pictures to her Facebook.
Check out some of those pictures below: