Fifteen-Year-Old High School Football Player Paralyzed After His First Game

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Football is a dangerous sport that gets glossed over in pursuit of entertainment and competition until tragedy strikes. That fact has taken life in Minnesota as a high school football player, Ethan Glynn, is now recovering from a life-changing injury that appears to have left him paralyzed.

On Friday, Glynn, a 15-year-old freshman attending Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minnesota, took the field for the first game in a just-developing high school career. However, “E” made a tackle playing defense and was severely injured, leaving him lying motionless on the field.

“He suffered a severe neck and spinal cord injury that has left him paralyzed from the shoulders down,” said a description on a CaringBridge page said that was set up for the 15-year-old and his family. “He has a long road ahead of him, but he is a fighter and we have no doubt that he will give it his all.”

Jefferson Jaguars football team head coach Tim Carlson told ABC affiliate KSTP that he believed Glynn possibly tripped before he made the tackle, unfortunately slamming his head into another player.

“Ethan’s a smart kid and as they were asking him questions, [Ethan] knew the answers he was giving were not good answers on what he could feel or touch,” Carlson said to KSTP.

Although it was Glynn’s first foray into high school football, he was a multi-disciplinary athlete and was also the captain of a youth hockey team that earned a spot in the state championships.

“This is a captain guy,” John Frein, a family friend, told CBS affiliate WCCO. “I mean, you see in many pictures he’s got a C on his chest.”

Glynn also was an avid baseball player, and his team spent Wednesday night making signs and posters to raise his spirits.

“It’s real, it’s fresh and it’s raw and it’s hard,” said Chad Nyberg, the high school’s activities director, to CNN. “This is all just freak accident stuff, and there’s nothing that any one person did or cause of anything. Some groups are doing some cards and things like that that will go to him. The football team is doing some gummy bracelets that they’re going to wear in support. The ninth-grade team is getting some T-shirts made.”

Now Glynn faces a long road to recovery but is receiving his teammates’ and coaches’ prayers and well-wishes to give him strength. However, there is a silver lining per an update to the CaringBridge page on Tuesday, where loved ones said that Glynn is receiving physical therapy on his arms and legs while in the hospital.

The update also said that he underwent surgery the day before and was placed on a ventilator. On Thursday, a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for Glynn’s medical expenses had raised over $118,000.

“The football teams will gather after school to process the incident and meet with coaches and our counseling teams,” Bloomington School District spokesman Rick Kaufman told the Minnesota Star Tribune. “All who have significant experience and training in traumatic events.”

With all the issues related to football like concussions and CTE, this early tragedy in a young football player’s high school career shows the potential for serious problems in football.


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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.