ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. Trent Edwards never cried before a pregame meal until Sunday, when he saw Kevin Everett walking his way.
"I was speechless, on the verge of tears. It was hard to say something to him," the rookie quarterback of the Buffalo Bills said. "He got out of his wheelchair and had a smile on his face. I remember the last time I saw him he was out here on the field with his head down getting in an ambulance, and we were all gathering around saying a prayer for him."
Consider those prayers answered.
Less than four months after sustaining a severe spinal cord injury on the turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Everett made a triumphant return Sunday to the scene of that awful September day when the 25-year-old tight end's career ended in the blink of an eye.
Everett addressed his teammates about two hours before their afternoon game against the New York Giants, going locker to locker to begin an emotional day along the blustery southern shore of Lake Erie.
"I couldn't stop looking at him," Edwards said. "It's very remarkable, and I'm not surprised that a guy that strong can get through an injury like that, both physically and mentally. That says a lot about the individual he his."
Everett's appearance marked the latest step in a remarkable recovery. Doctors initially feared Everett would never walk again after what was described as a life-threatening injury suffered while making a tackle on Domenik Hixon on the second-half kickoff in the season opener against Denver on Sept. 9.
Everett was paralyzed from the neck down when he arrived at Buffalo's Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital and spent the first few days on life support.
Hixon, who now plays for the Giants, was whisked away to meet with Everett after the Giants won 38-21.
"It's a blessing," Hixon said. "I just want him to make a 100 percent recovery. I'm going to continue praying for him, and he's going to make it back 100 percent."
After meeting with his teammates, Everett left the locker room in a wheelchair and, on his own power, climbed into a covered electric car. He was driven to team owner Ralph Wilson's suite at midfield.
When he arrived at the suite, Everett was immediately recognized by fans and concession workers, who began applauding as he exited the vehicle. Everett smiled and waved but didn't say anything.
That Everett's improbable return came just two days before Christmas made the moment even more poignant.
"I think it's wonderful," said Holly Lopez of Orchard Park, who volunteers with her husband Richard in concessions for St. Bernadette's Church. "I'm amazed."
Everett, accompanied by family and friends, parked at one end of the box's front row and watched the pregame festivities from a wheelchair, munching on a candy cane and acknowledging fans with a wave.
A smile creased Everett's face when fan Rick Rosenswie of nearby Olean walked past and gave him a thumbs-up before taking his seat overlooking the 20-yard line at the west end of the field.
Everett, who has spent the past 2 1/2 months rehabbing in Houston, where he makes his offseason home, was not available for interviews.