Anthony Young, the talented Indianapolis Colts safety who made several all-rookie teams last season, was forced to retire a few weeks ago because of a neck injury. "I'll never forget the afternoon the doctor told me I had a torn ligament at the first vertebra of my neck," Young says, "and that it would be advisable not to play football ever again—that I'd be risking paralysis or death if I did.
"I tried not to believe it. I walked around for a long time by myself. There were so many questions. Over and over, I asked. Why are they telling me at age 22 that my career is over?"
Young suffered the injury against the Seahawks on Aug. 8. Seattle running back Bobby Joe Edmonds ran a sweep, and as Young came up to make the tackle, Edmonds cut back. "So I put my head down to make the tackle," Young says, "and his helmet hit the top of mine. The force just jammed my head down. Then I fell back and rolled over. Everything went blank in my body. My arms were dangling at my sides. I heard a ringing in my ears. It was the scaredest that I've ever been."
The first thing Young thought about was his good friend Allen Penn, a teammate at Pemberton Township ( N.J.) High, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a high school football game in 1980. Then, Young started praying. Soon, the feeling came back into his body.
Now, after consulting with three specialists, Young will not take a chance playing football. He plans to return to Temple University this spring, where he's three credits short of a marketing degree.
"Allen Penn has helped get me through this," says Young. "I'm trying real hard to be strong."