ATHENS — I can’t imagine what went through Mohamed Massaquoi’s mind when he found himself on the ground after that terrible accident last April. I can only guess what he has thought in the year since. It was really nice to hear this week that his overwhelming feeling today is thankfulness.
Massaquoi, Georgia fans will recall, was one of the best Bulldogs receivers of all time. He caught 158 passes from 2005-08 during one of the school’s most prolific offensive spans. That’s the sixth-most receptions in school history. He’d haul in 16 touchdown passes with the Bulldogs, including three in one game against Georgia Tech.
“Good hands,” they always said of the tall, sleek wideout from Charlotte, N.C. And the NFL agreed, as the Cleveland Browns selected Massaquoi 50th overall in the 2009 draft. He’d catch another 118 passes for 1,745 yards and 7 scores as a pro, before retirement came much too soon.
I heard about Massaquoi’s accident not long after it happened. I’m not sure how long after, but a few weeks at least. A Georgia letterman let me know, though details then were sketchy and, it turned out, a bit exaggerated. First word was that he had lost an arm in an ATV accident.
Turns out it was most of his left hand, including four fingers. Massaquoi finally released some details through a video posted to The Players’ Tribune on Tuesday. It has been widely circulated in the hours since, but here it is in case you have not seen it:
I reached out to Massaquoi through the university back when I first learned of the accident. I was told then he wasn’t interested in talking about it publicly. Certainly understandable.
Good to see that he is now.
We learned that Massaquoi was out in the country “joyriding” on ATVs with friends last April when he took a turn too sharply. Somewhere in the course of that spill, his hand ended up in a place it shouldn’t be. Massaquoi at first thought he’d just broken the hand. But the blood and the looks on the faces of his friends soon told him it was much worse.
“You can see the panic and fear in everybody,” he said.
What followed were months of surgeries and medical procedures. Doctors tried to save the hand and all the fingers. But one by one, Massaquoi revealed, the four fingers had to be removed. Only his thumb remained.
But Massaquoi has fingers again in the way of a robotic prosthetic. He shows it off proudly in the video.
He also has a new attitude.
“I went through denial,” Massaquoi said of his initial reaction to the trauma that had befallen him. “I went through fear of what was going to come. This just gives you a perspective of how precious life is, of how fast things can change.”
No, Massaquoi won’t be catching passes for a living anymore. I’d guess he’s probably not riding ATVs anymore, either; though I don’t know that for sure.
I’ve reached out to Massaquoi again through UGA. I hope he’ll be willing to talk to me this time and share some details about what he’s been through, and where he’s headed.
But just from what I was able to see this week, it’s evident Massaquoi is in a good place again.
“When I look at my hand, I’m just thankful,” Massaquoi says on the video, the robotics in his hand whirring as he moves the metal fingers. “I’m thankful for the process. I’m thankful for the little things in life. I’m thankful for family, for friendship, thankful for real things.”
We’re thankful to hear from you, Mohamed. Thanks for sharing.