Goodell visits with Everett at hospital for 90 minutes

Updated: September 13, 2007, 7:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited injured tight end Kevin Everett on Thursday morning, spending 90 minutes with the Bills player who sustained a severe spinal cord injury.

Goodell flew from New York to Buffalo to meet with Everett and his mother, Patricia Dugas, in the player's room at Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital, hospital spokesman Mike Hughes said.

Bills general manager Marv Levy also was in the room.

Hughes said Goodell requested permission to make the visit Wednesday, hours after Everett's doctors expressed "cautious optimism" that the player might be able to walk again. Everett sustained a life-threatening spinal-cord injury in Buffalo's season opener against Denver on Sunday.

More from ABCNews.com

Some say cooling may have helped save Kevin Everett's spine. ABCNews.com looks at the debate over the experimental therapy. Story
• Good Morning America Video

"He just wanted to go up to see him," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said of Goodell.

Everett has shown significant signs of recovery since awakening from a sedated state Tuesday.

Doctors said the player can wiggle his toes, bend his hip, move his ankles, elevate and kick his leg, as well as extend his elbows and slightly flex his biceps. While all are significant signs of improvement, he noted that Everett has yet to show any movement in his hands.

"There are some answers now. And many more questions remain," said Dr. Kevin Gibbons, the hospital's supervisor of neurosurgery. "The patient's made significant improvement. But no one should think the functions in his legs is close to normal. Not even close. ... If you ask me, 'Would he walk again?' I would tell you that I wouldn't bet against it. But he has a long way to go."

Helyar: Support system

It won't be easy, but Kevin Everett's rehabilitation will be helped by Dennis Byrd, Mike Utley, Derrick Burroughs and other players who've suffered severe spine injuries, writes John Helyar. Story

Doctors were also confident enough in Everett's recovery that they took him off a respirator Wednesday.

When Everett arrived at the hospital Sunday, he was paralyzed below his neck.

"For me personally, it is difficult to put into words the depth of my concern I feel towards this courageous young man," Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. said in a statement. "I want to express my truly heart-felt best wishes for Kevin and his mother, Patricia, and their entire family during this challenging time. I will remain optimistic for Kevin in the days ahead and I encourage everyone to keep Kevin in your thoughts and prayers."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE