Detroit Lions call one final play for disabled Michigan football senior

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally
Michigan teen Chandler McBride returned to school this past fall after breaking his neck over the summer -- AP
Michigan teen Chandler McBride returned to school this past fall after breaking his neck over the summer -- AP

This wasn't how Three Rivers (Mich.) High two-way standout Chandler McBride pictured his high school football career ending in 2012, but the Detroit Lions still managed to make the prep senior's final touchdown a special one.

McBride, 18, broke his neck and severed his spinal cord this past summer after diving into the shallow end of a friend's swimming pool -- an accident that left the 6-foot, 190-pound tight end and defensive end paralyzed from the chest down.

Lions public relations guru Bill Keenist learned of McBride's accident, visited him several times soon afterwards at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., and grew inspired by the Michigan teenager's optimism. That relationship culminated in a genuine moment that only reached the media when Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel saw Chandler's mother, Monica McBride, post pictures on Facebook.

As Seidel reported, McBride was watching Detroit's NFL walk-through on Saturday when Lions coach Jim Schwartz shouted his name from the other side of the practice field, running back Mikel Leshoure ran across the field to wheel him into the huddle and quarterback Matthew Stafford called a fourth-and-goal play for him.

"I about stood up but, naturally, couldn't," Chandler told the Free Press. "I about crapped my pants."

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson lined up to the right, and Chandler set up behind the fullback in the I formation.

Added Chandler: "I looked at the linemen and said, 'Guys, please block for me. They got some big guys over there.'"

Stafford handed the ball off to McBride, and he wheeled into the end zone for a touchdown that generated a lasting smile on the paralyzed teen's face. The players gathered around McBride, who led them out of practice in fine fashion: "Lions on three. One, two, three. Lions!"

The McBrides stayed on the same floor as the team in their hotel on Saturday night and Chandler the Lions on the Ford Field sidelines for warmups prior to the team's 26-24 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon.

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