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Marshall’s Pro Day featured several players hoping to get into the NFL – and one hoping to get back.
Receiver Stedman Bailey, now 27-years-old, was running routes and catching passes from Thundering Herd quarterback Chase Litton, hoping to show scouts on hand that he deserves another shot.
And he did it with a smile, knowing what it’s taken for him to get back to this point.
On Nov. 24, 2015, Bailey was a passenger in a car in Miami Gardens, Fla. when a second car pulled up and someone inside began firing. Bailey was struck twice in the head.
Bailey was brought to the hospital in critical condition. Though his injuries were not life-threatening – the bullets fractured his skull, but did not damage his brain tissue – doctors believed they were career-ending.
Doctors believed it marked the end of his football career, but Bailey never did.
“I never had a doubt in my mind that I’d be able to play again,” Bailey said, via The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, W. Va. “It kind of hurt with reports from doctors that I may not be able to walk or I may have trouble speaking again. Me, just being a positive person that I am, I just waved those reports off like, ‘OK, we’ll see.’ I set it in my mind to show them differently.
“That incident happened in November 2015 and, five months later, I was on the field running routes and feeling good.”
Last October, Bailey underwent a surgery to insert a plate in his skull, and said it “changed the game” in terms of his return; the plate is stronger than natural skull bone, and can help protect him against NFL-force hits he’d take if he gets to play again.
He was cleared by his doctors in December; NFL teams, of course, would have their own medical questions.
Wednesday was the first time Bailey has been back in front of scouts since the shooting, and was excited for the opportunity.
A third-round pick out of West Virginia in 2013, Bailey played in 38 games with eight starts before that fateful night in November 2015. He had totaled 59 career catches for 843 yards and two touchdowns when the game was yanked away from him.
Since Bailey was not on an NFL roster last year, he is free to sign with a team at any time.
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