One of the most compelling players in this year’s draft played college football at Houston. During the 2012 season, he nearly died.
Fully healed less than five months after a routine hit nearly claimed his life, cornerback D.J. Hayden is visiting the Raiders on Tuesday, per a source with knowledge of the situation.
Hayden severed his inferior vena cava during practice in November. It’s an injury that typically happens in high-speed automobile accidents, and 95 percent of the time it is fatal.
“It was a regular day at practice,” Hayden said at the Scouting Combine, describing the injury. “We were doing team vs. scout team. They threw the ball my way. The ball was underthrown. Me and the safety ran into each other. His knee hit me in my chest. I fell to the ground. It felt like I got the wind knocked out of me. When I was breathing, I just wasn’t breathing right. The doctor took me inside. He was asking me these questions and I was getting real cold.
“I’m looking around and I’m getting real sleepy. My left eye goes pitch black. I can’t see out of it. I can see a little bit out of my right eye. I’m praying, ‘Lord, help me get out if this one.’
“They rushed me to the hospital and did a scan on my stomach and my chest. They saw a lot of blood in my abdomen. They thought it was my liver or my spleen.
“The doctor said he was going to have to cut me open. I said, ‘OK, just don’t mess my abs up.’ So they cut through my sternum and saw the [inferior vena cava], the main vein to your heart, was torn. He put some sutures in, stitched it back together, closed me back up and here I am today.”
And if you weren’t previously a D.J. Hayden fan, it’s safe to say that you are one now.