Reggie Brown knows he will not play football again, and that's something the Detroit Lions linebacker can accept.
"I would say I'm unfortunate about my career, but I'm very fortunate. I would rather have my life," Brown told the "Dateline NBC" program for a story broadcast Sunday night. "I would rather be a better ... father, a better son, than be a better football player."Brown sustained a career-ending spinal cord injury Dec. 21 during the fourth quarter of the Lions' 13-10 victory over the Jets.
A day later, he had surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his neck. He returned to his native Texas last week and is undergoing rehabilitation at the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston.
Doctors say Brown will never make a 100 percent recovery.
Brown stopped breathing on the field and had to be resuscitated. He at first had no sensation in his arms and legs, and permanent paralysis seemed a serious possibility.
Instead, he steadily regained sensation and use of his arms and legs.
Brown recalled the time when doctors at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital first asked him to get on his feet.
"My feet were just happy to be back on the floor," he said.
As soon as he could walk, Brown said he insisted on making the rounds of the hospital, despite wearing a metal "halo" screwed into his skull to stabilize his spine.
"I'd even walk down to the cafeteria, down into the lobby," Brown said. "I just wanted to be part of, you know, being a human being again, just walking and just trying to fit in."
Henry Ford Hospital neurosurgeon Russ Nockels described Brown's progress as "really amazing" but added that he will never be the same as before the accident.
"No one with (this) type of injury comes back 100 percent," he told NBC. "He's undoubtedly done some permanent damage to his nervous system. And I've told him he can't expect to be back to normal. He may get to a functional level that's very near normal."
Brown said he has no regrets and is coming to accept his fate.
"It's just ... something that happened, you know. Casualty of war."