This Day In Sports History (November 17th) – Mike Utley

It was on this day in 1991 that Detroit Lions offensive lineman Mike Utley was paralyzed during an NFL game.  The injury occurred against the Los Angeles Rams in a game played at the Pontiac Silverdome, the former home of the Lions.

Utley was a third-round pick (59th overall) of the Detroit Lions in the 1989 NFL Draft.  He played his college ball at Washington State and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1988 Aloha Bowl.  In Utley’s first two years as a Lion he showed a lot of potential, but unfortunately for him he suffered injuries in both seasons which seemed to slow his growth.  However, in his third year he started every game and was the full-time right guard, blocking for future Hall-of-Fame running back Barry Sanders.

Utley would suffer an injury to his sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae, which left him temporarily paralyzed from the chest down and obviously ended his career.  As he was being carted off the field, Utley flashed the crowd a “thumbs up” which is now the symbol of the Mike Utley Foundation.  Mike and his agent, Bruce Allen, started the foundation in 1991 to help seek a cure for paralysis.

Here is an interview with Mike Utley.

Notable Birthdays

Reggie Wayne, NFL – Born November 17th 1978 (age 33) in New Orleans, Louisiana

Ryan Braun, MLB – Born November 17th 1983 (age 28) in Los Angeles, California

Nick Markakis, MLB – Born November 17th 1983 (age 28) in Glen Cove, New York

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