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Fighting MS, Downey hopes to make NFL roster

"We wouldn't touch him."

That was the message agent Joe Linta received from an American Football Conference executive this spring about his client, Khiawatha Downey, one of the better college offensive linemen in the nation last season.

It wasn't Downey's size, his 40-yard dash time or his attitude that turned the executive away, Linta said. Rather it was two words in his medical chart.
Following the 2000 season, when he was a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, Downey was being examined for a shoulder injury when doctors discovered he had multiple sclerosis, a disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Though Downey, like many people with MS, had no symptoms and may not until he's much older, NFL teams treated him as if he had leprosy.

More here.

May 12, 2004 in people | Permalink