- Rick Reilly, Columnist, ESPN.com
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You say you love your team? You say you're totally committed? Please. I'll show you commitment.
Meet 6-3, 280-pound Trevor Wikre. He's the starting right guard for Division II Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colo. He loves football like wolves love pork chops. He'd do anything for his team. Two weeks ago, he proved it.
During a practice, Wikre, of Berthoud, Colo., caught his pinkie on a linebacker's jersey during a sweep play. When he looked down, he happened to notice his bone was sticking out of his skin.
"Just tape it up," he told the trainer. "We got practice to finish."
Instead, they sent him to the hospital, where doctors told him they'd need to insert pins and reconstruct the ligaments. It'd need at least four months to heal. He'd be done for the season.
"No way," Trevor said. "This is my senior year. We've got to make this work."
"We can't," the doctor said.
"We can," insisted Trevor. "We can cut it off."
Cut if off?
"To have somebody tell you that you've played your last game of football, I just wasn't going to let that happen," Trevor explains. "I couldn't do that to my teammates. I'd take a bullet for those guys."
Or a bone saw. So he made the doctor lop off his right pinkie. Problem solved!
Two days later, he was ready to play against Colorado School of Mines, only the doctors wouldn't let him. "Some stupid thing like the stitches would rip," he grouses.
And how do his teammates feel about his sacrifice? They hate him for it. Especially the ones who have missed games with injuries this season. "Thanks a lot for making us look like wussies," one said to him. The rest of them just kid. When Trevor does something good now, they hold up their hands and holler, "High four!"
Trevor only has one regret. The doctor didn't give him the finger. "I wanted to make a necklace out of it." It'd also be a great gag at Subway!
Feels odd, though. The finger that isn't there aches and itches. He wakes up at night to hold it against the throbbing, only to remember it's gone. It takes him longer to get dressed now. And it turns out you need your pinkie to hold the remote—and handfuls of M&M's. But his biggest problem has been typing. "I look down and notice that all my p's are missing."
What's funny about this story is that Trevor doesn't eat light bulbs for breakfast, or ram his head through plywood. He's actually a level-headed guy. "He teaches me patience," says his mother, Kim. "He's the calm one. And it's like he told me, 'Mom, I'm not gonna be a piano player or a surgeon. I'm a football player. I gotta play football.' So I'm perfectly fine with it."
Well, except for the first time she saw his hand in a video on the Internet and had to leave work, sick to her stomach. "I can understand that," Trevor says. "She was happy I was born with 10 fingers and 10 toes and now I'm short one."
But, hey, could be worse. As Trevor's fiancée, Traci, says, "Of all the body parts he could've taken off, that one wasn't so bad. I feel kinda good about it. I know that if he ever needs to sacrifice for our future, he'll do it."
What's off-the-charts unbelievable is Trevor's head coach, Joe Ramunno, did the same thing. He slashed his left pinkie in a high-school shop class 29 years ago and insisted they cut if off rather than miss his senior season. "It didn't occur to me until afterward," Trevor says. "My coach and I had the same thing happen!"
So, has it all been worth it?
"When I think about how much I love football, and my team, I just get goose bumps," says Trevor, who, big shock, wants to coach after he graduates. "To be able to play and hit people and not get in trouble for it? Man, it's a blessing. I love my team. And I'm a big believer in actions speaking louder than words."
Every pancake block now seems sweeter, every snot-producing hit more precious. And Ramunno says the team is playing "inspired football since Trevor did this." In fact, Trevor helped Mesa State clobber Colorado State-Pueblo, 26-3 this past Saturday, helping it raise its Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference record to 5-0.
"When you get a second chance at something you're so passionate about?" he says. "Man, your love for what you're doing just skyrockets."
So does the respect his teammates really do feel for him. "Amazing," says Mesa State quarterback Phil Vigil.
Personally, I think they should type him a little note of thanks:
49mMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
9hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins