During a supervised training session with the strength and conditioning staff, Stafon Johnson almost died from the injuries he suffered when a set of weights fell onto his neck. The 21-year-old University of Southern California running back was the Trojans’ top rusher in 2008. The college athlete was bench-pressing 275 pounds when the bar slipped from his hands, fracturing and displacing his vocal cord and severing his larynx. A seven-hour operation saved his life. (His voice, still soft and raspy, will be corrected with further surgery according to the report in Sports Illustrated.)
Johnson missed most of the 2009 season after the weight-room accident.
According to ESPN After a series of surgeries and lengthy physical therapy, Johnson eventually made a full recovery from the potentially fatal injuries, a process one throat specialist, Dr. Jason Hamilton, described as "miraculous." The Tennessee Titans signed the undrafted Johnson as a free agent in April 2010, before waiving him after he dislocated his ankle in a preseason game.
The former university athlete is now bringing a lawsuit against his alma mater for the weightlifting accident. According to news reports the incident, which happened in September 2009, was likely thought to have been water under the bridge for the USC football program—especially after Johnson signed on with the Tennessee Titans. Jamie Yanchar, who was assisting Johnson on that day, is no longer on the staff at USC, but he is also named in the lawsuit. Sports commentators note that the injured athlete deserves compensation for the carelessness of USC’s training staff, however it seems like he might have filed suit earlier in light of his professional football career’s path and subsequent ankle injury. In a post scheduled for tomorrow, my response to the ESPN site that has been bristling with anti-Johnson and anti-lawyer comments.