IRVING, Texas –Some players had more time than others to digest the devastating news on DeVonte Holloman's likely career-ending neck injury.
For those such as Barry Church, who heard only a few minutes prior to talking to the media Thursday, the reaction was particularly somber. But most of Holloman's teammates – regardless of when they got the news – felt sympathy, empathy and a realization of how quickly the game can be taken away.
"I just heard about it maybe three minutes ago," Church said. "That's devastating, real devastating. But like I said earlier, it's a neck injury. You can't really mess around with neck injuries. You've got your whole life ahead of you as a young guy."
Church said all of Holloman's teammates have his back and the linebacker knows all of his teammates are there for him if he needs anything. It also put into perspective for Church how important every play is, as well as the importance of life outside the game. Church said he understood Holloman's decision given the circumstances.
"I mean, you could play here a couple more years or be in a wheelchair the rest of your life," Church said. "You've got to make that decision. He made the right one, but it's a tough one."
Jason Witten's had the benefit of playing 11 seasons in the league and is entering his 12th this year, so he knows the disappointment Holloman has to feel to get this news entering just his second season in the league.
Holloman's only 23 years old and was a rookie standout last year competing for time at linebacker. He stood out in last year's regular season finale, filling in at middle linebacker and compiling double-digit tackles and two sacks.
"Obviously, here's a young player I thought had a great future ahead of him," Witten said. "Really good cover guy. Just can never take it for granted, the opportunity we have to play this game, even in these dog days of camp. Sad to hear that, obviously you want to reach out to him and pull for him… It provides perspective, and we wish him the best."
The news didn't only affect the veterans.
Fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens didn't know Holloman long, but Hitches said it was a sad moment when he found out the news. [embedded_ad]
"I actually reached out to him yesterday and gave him a text," Hitchens said. "You know, I've known him for a couple months here. He's a good guy. It's just sad to see things like that happen. I just wish the best for him."
Holloman's college coach, Steve Spurrier, also wished the best for his former player – one that he called one of his favorites during his time at South Carolina.
"He did everything the coaches asked him and a little bit more," Spurrier said. "Outstanding player, played safety, sort of nickel back/linebacker. Unfortunately, these things happen in football. Injuries occur. We're hoping that this injury will still allow him to live a normal life and resume whatever career he's going into."