The news about former Iowa defensive back Brett Greenwood has been encouraging. He reportedly is making amazing progress and showing the same courage and determination that helped him defy the odds as a walk-on defensive back at Iowa.
Greenwood has an incredible support system, from his family and friends to the medical experts who have been at his side since he collapsed and his heart stopped beating last September to the countless fans who have rallied on his behalf.
Very little is known about his medical condition because Greenwood’s family has protected his privacy and declined numerous interview requests. A few blog updates have been posted on a website called brettgreenwoodfoundation.com, which was set up to update and benefit his recovery.
What we do know is that Greenwood’s situation has touched Hawkeye fans like few things have.
The latest example will be Saturday when fans are encouraged to wear green in support of Greenwood at Iowa’s game against Central Michigan at Kinnick Stadium. Fans did the same thing for Iowa’s game against Louisiana-Monroe last season, with money raised from selling green Greenwood T-shirts going to his foundation.
New York Giants defensive back Tyler Sash, who played alongside Greenwood for three seasons at Iowa, also has participated in numerous fundraisers on behalf of his close friend. Sash dedicated his appearance with the Giants in last season’s Super Bowl to his buddy and former college roommate, saying he was playing the game for two.
Greenwood has to benefit from knowing that he isn’t in this fight alone. Staying upbeat and positive is a big part of any medical recovery, and to know that so many people have you in their thoughts and prayers only helps.
It’s been slightly more than a year since Greenwood, a 2006 graduate of Pleasant Valley High School, collapsed Sept. 9, 2011, while working out at his former high school.
His heart slipped into an abnormal rhythm and stopped beating.
Fortunately, a nurse and a trainer happened to be on the scene in preparation for a high school football game that night. They performed CPR and treated Greenwood with a defibrillator, restoring his pulse.
He was taken to a medical facility in Bettendorf and then transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics after his condition stabilized.
Greenwood suffered a brain injury that was caused by his brain being deprived of oxygen for a period of time.
He was in a coma for 27 days and has spent most of the past year in a brain therapy facility in Ankeny.
The most recent blog posted to Greenwood’s website Sept. 8 said his recovery has taken more time and patience than ever could have been imagined.
“The complexity of a brain injury is overwhelming,” the blog said. “Not surprisingly, Brett is focused. Today he is focused on what needs to happen to get home. Among the many reasons he wants to come home is to be back with his Hawkeye family.”
Greenwood was embraced by fans not only because he was a good football player, but also because of how he handled the rest of his role as a student-athlete. He was named to Iowa’s Leadership Group in each of his four seasons as a player and he excelled in the classroom.
The Iowa coaches also never had to worry about Greenwood’s name showing up on the police blotter.
Greenwood didn’t have a scholarship when he started playing football at Iowa, but he had a vision and a plan for success. He was a better athlete than most probably gave him credit for.
But he also was the complete package, a thinking man’s football player, who became a starter at free safety as a redshirt freshman in 2007 and never gave up the position.
Greenwood continued to defy the odds by almost making the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 2011 roster after signing with the team as a free agent.
It barely had been a week since the Steelers made Greenwood one of their final cuts when he collapsed.
The fact that he collapsed the day before Iowa played Iowa State in Ames last season caused mixed emotions as fans from both schools tried to balance the thrill of another intrastate showdown with the sadness and shock of Greenwood’s medical crisis.
Iowa State fans were affected by Greenwood’s situation because his father played football for the Cyclones in the 1970s.
It was hard not to be affected by it, even if you didn’t know Greenwood or follow college football.
Here was a kid in peak physical condition and in the prime of his life struck down with no warning just five days before his 24th birthday. It was cruel and made no sense. It also reminded us just how precious life is and how it can never be taken for granted.
But through adversity we often see the good side of people, and that’s what we’re seeing now with Greenwood’s recovery.
We’ll see it again on Saturday when a stadium that’s usually colored in black and gold on gameday turns green out of love of respect.
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or email@example.com.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football