The NFL is in the midst of its "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign, in which players give publicity to the issues they support by putting messages on their shoes. For Browns tight end David Njoku, the cause is one that recently became personal to him: Supporting the American Burn Association.
Njoku has opened up about the very serious burns he recently suffered and is hoping to raise awareness that helps to prevent others from suffering such injuries, and get the appropriate treatments when they do.
"I have a bonfire every Friday," Njoku says in a video released by the Browns. "Just meditate a little bit, play a little music, relax. I was setting up my bonfire and I ran out of the normal lighter fluid that I use to soak the wood, so I used another one, and it was a spray instead of one you pour. I sprayed it down, waited a little bit, and I guess the spray was still in the air, because when I lit it up, it just exploded. The fire came to my wrists and then blew up in my face. I didn't really feel the pain because it happened so fast."
Njoku's doctor revealed that about 17 to 18 percent of the surface area of Njoku's body was burned and described it as "probably the most painful burn you can have." The doctor also said he recommended that Njoku not play that Sunday, but Njoku decided to play anyway.
"My recommendation was to not play," he said. "David's tough and David wanted to play."
Njoku said he has heard from many victims who are self-conscious about their scars, which is why he has posted some graphic photos of his own burns, so that others will know they're not alone. And as he raises awareness he hopes to be a representative of the community of burn victims who overcame their injuries.