Coach Pete Carroll Throws a Hail Mary For Christopher Reeve

October 20, 2010

As another note on our magical Somewhere in Time weekend, I’m including the following excerpt from my book, Bringing Back The Old Hollywood:

Coach Pete Carroll Throws a Hail Mary For Christopher Reeve

Less than twenty-four hours after Chris’ accident, I received a phone call from Pete Carroll, who at that time was an assistant coach with the New York Jets.

Coach Carroll had somewhat miraculously tracked me down through my involvement with Somewhere in Time.

Pete explained to me that Dennis Byrd, a football player that he had coached, had suffered the same kind of injury that Chris had suffered but had received a very specific treatment right after the injury that made it possible for him to eventually walk again.

I had never met Chris’ wife Dana so I had no real chance to be able to talk to her. I did, however, know Gae Exton, whom I had met during the Somewhere in Time shoot.

Gae had been Chris’ girlfriend back in the late 1970s and 1980s and, even though they had never married, Gae is the mother of Chris’ two kids Matthew and Alexandra.

I found the name of the hospital where Chris was being treated, called the emergency room, and convinced a nurse there to hand Gae a message to please call me because I had some information that could be crucial for Chris’ recovery.

Within an hour, Gae called me back and I explained everything to her that Pete had explained to me. She listened very intently, told me that she would absolutely tell Dana right away, and promised to call me back when she had more to tell me.

True to her word, Gae did call me back a couple of days later to say that the potential procedure had indeed been discussed with Dana and the doctors but that the decision had been made not to pursue it.

I have every faith that Dana and Chris’s doctors made the right decision, as I obviously have absolutely no idea that the procedure would have helped Chris even if it had been tried.

After I heard from Gae, I called Pete Carroll back and thanked him profusely for his efforts. He had gone way out of his way to try to help someone whom he had never met. I really admired that and him. In fact, his compassion was so sincere that I became a lifelong Pete Carroll fan that very day.

Pete went on to become the head football coach at The University of Southern California (USC) where he won two national championships. While Pete was at USC, I even shifted my allegiance from my alma mater UCLA to our archrival USC.

In the spring of 2010, Pete left USC to become the head coach of the pro football Seattle Seahawks. For me, that was a double stroke of good fortune. I can root for my alma mater again and also for a neighbor here in the Pacific Northwest.

In researching this book, I contacted the Seahawks office and relayed a message about what I was doing to Pete’s wonderful assistant Dawn.

True to form, Pete graciously took some time from his hectic schedule to return my call so that I could refresh my memory about our conversations of fifteen years ago.

Pete Carroll is a class act.

So was Chris.

And so is Jane.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lauren October 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

And so is Stephen.

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