The news on Monday that former Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi had to have four fingers on his left hand amputated following an ATV accident last April conjures up a number of thoughts.
First and foremost, there’s sympathy. I’m so sorry to hear that, and I know you are, too.
Massaquoi, a second-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Georgia, didn’t do much in his four-year career in Cleveland. But that has nothing – absolutely nothing – with the fact he suffered a serious, life-changing accident. No one wants to see something like that happen to anyone.
If there are people who have used this accident to make some kind of sick joke about Massaquoi’s NFL career – and I imagine there are, unfortunately — then they ought to be ashamed of themselves. I’m embarrassed to write that, but I honestly believe it.
Because we see these athletes, whether they be in football, baseball, basketball, hockey or any other sport, do all these amazing physical things, jumping and running at eye-popping levels, we think they’re somehow invincible, that they don’t bleed, bruise or break like the rest of us. We believe them to be superhuman, almost immortal.
Then something happens like the accident sustained by Massaquoi, and we realize how very silly those thoughts really are.
Longtime – very longtime — Browns fans lost that belief years ago. It was 55 years ago, to be exact. During the offseason between the 1962 and ’63 seasons, three Browns players died. It was one of the most horrific offseasons for any team in any sport at any level, ever.
It began in January 1963 when Purdue back Tom Bloom, the latter of the Browns’ two second-round draft choices in 1963, was killed in a car accident on a then-brand new Interstate 70 in Western Ohio.
The bad news continued in May of that year when running back Ernie Davis, who was traded by Washington to the Browns for Pro Football Hall of Fame running back/wide receiver Bobby Mitchell after the Redskins drafted him No. 1 overall in 1962, died of leukemia without ever playing a down for Cleveland.
About three weeks after that, in June 1963, Don Fleming, a real up-and-coming safety from tiny Shadyside, Ohio, located along the Ohio River in Belmont County, was electrocuted in a construction accident in Florida.
Just like that, in approximately five months, the Browns had lost three players. It was sobering, to say the least, just like Massaquoi’s accident.