Last week, we witnessed another example of the worst kind of injuries that are sadly inevitable in football when Southern receiver Devon Gales suffered a broken neck against Georgia.
The redshirt sophomore had multiple fractures in his neck that required surgery to repair, and thankfully the school announced after the operation that he had movement in his upper body.
The lone good thing to come from all of this was how Georgia coach Mark Richt and many other UGA supporters responded. Richt and other Georgia staffers set aside Alabama prep on Sunday to visit Gales in the hospital. UGA wives and kids spent “family night” on Sunday preparing cards and posters to lift Devon’s spirits. Both of Georgia’s team chaplains spent time visiting with the Gales family at the hospital and offering support.
“We’re trying to cover him up with as much love as we can and let him know that we care and let him know that we’re here to help,” Richt said Sunday. He also called on Georgia’s community to offer financial support for the Gales family.
Richt probably doesn’t want any pats on the back for any of this, as he’d readily admit these are all gestures that any thoughtful and caring program would do as well. Still, that didn’t stop Southern University system president and chancellor Ray Belton from writing a letter to Richt and the Georgia community expressing extreme gratitude for exemplifying the “true nature of sportsmanship, caring and generosity.”
Here is Belton’s letter in full.
An open letter to University of Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, Head
Coach Mark Richt, UGA officials, and the entire UGA community
A history-making Southern University Jaguar football game on the road against nationally ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia, Saturday, September 26, 2015, has exemplified the true nature of sportsmanship, caring, and generosity.
During the third quarter of play in the Jaguars’ first match up against a Southeastern Conference team, SU wide receiver Devon Gales suffered a spinal injury. Devon underwent successful spinal surgery Sunday afternoon at Athens Regional Medical Center and is in good spirits.
From the moment of the accident, UGA and SU sports medicine staff worked side by side to tend to the injured SU player until he was taken off the field and transported to Athens Regional Medical Center. UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity immediately coordinated plans with SU Athletic Director Roman Banks for Devon’s care and support that included covering expenses to fly the student-athlete’s parents to Athens, Georgia, to be by his bedside.
At the medical center following the game, SU Head Coach Dawson Odums and members of the Jaguar Football team gathered with UGA Head Coach Mark Richt, other members of the UGA coaching staff, and team chaplains, to visit Devon. The UGA community has joined the Jaguar Nation in an extraordinary outpouring of prayers, love, and support for Devon and his family.
While Devon’s road to full recovery may be long, we are grateful for the prayers and excellent medical care and treatment that resulted in his successful surgery and improvement thus far. The extent to which the UGA officials and community have embraced our student-athlete is remarkable and it speaks volumes to their character and kindness.
I must also commend the UGA community for its hospitality shown to our athletic staff, team, and fans in and around Sanford Stadium. From excellent accommodations, to a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, we were pleased. On behalf of the Southern University System and the Southern University Department of Athletics, I extend a huge thank you to UGA officials, students, and alumni, the UGA community, and the Athens Regional Medical Center, for their care and support of Devon.
President-Chancellor, Southern University
(h/t Saturday Down South)
Teddy Mitrosilis works in social content development at FOX Sports Digital. Follow him on Twitter @TMitrosilis and email him at email@example.com.