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Seisay recounts harrowing injury

Dragons cornerback Mohammed Seisay visited practice days after suffering a neck injury against St. Louis.

SEATTLE -- Mohammed Seisay had the Seattle Dragons’ trip to St. Louis circled on his calendar.

The Nebraska product was looking forward to the challenge of playing against a pair of former Cornhuskers. The cornerback wanted to show what he could do against De’Mornay Pierson-El and Brandon Reilly.

“It would have been a good old fun time to match up against them,” Seisay said.

For Seisay, though, that game against the BattleHawks changed everything on one play: a toss toward the Dragons’ sideline in the second quarter.

On that play, with one hit, Seisay’s season ended.

'It ... creeped up at me pretty fast'

He didn't envision getting to that point. When the game started, Seisay felt good.

“I came in, rotated with one of the other corners,” Seisay said. “I came in – they had me playing outside – and the first drive was kind of long and I was feeling good, feeling like I could compete with the guys in front of me.”

Then, on Seisay’s second drive of the game, he was playing inside, lined up as the Dragons’ nickel.

“It was a run play on my side, a little toss, a toss crack,” he said.

Head coach Jim Zorn and Mohammed Seisay of the Dragons hug after their Week 2 win against the Vipers in Week 2. (Photo: Rod Mar/XFL via Getty Images)

Typically, the play wouldn’t get to Seisay with the way the team’s defense was set up. But, “it kind of creeped up at me pretty fast,” he said.

All of a sudden, running back Keith Ford was right in front of the cornerback.

“Last-minute, I did my regular, ordinary, everyday tackling – same foot, same shoulder,” he said. “I saw what I was hitting. It looked like he saw me last minute, he flinched and put his helmet down and that’s how we collided.”

After the collision, Seisay said he instantly felt pain in his neck.

“It kind of triggered down to my right arm, shoulder and lower back,” he said. “It was like a shock. As I landed, I felt like – I don’t know if I was cleated on the back of my helmet or I hit the surface – but I felt another impact. It was like two impacts in one. As I lay there, I opened my eyes instantly and tried to move my feet and make sure my legs were good.”

He could move his legs. Laying on the turf, though, there was a problem.

“I couldn’t feel anything on my whole right side,” he said.

As he looked up at The Dome’s ceiling, he thought to himself, “what the heck?”

'This one felt different'

He thought about where he was and what he had been through: Injuries (a torn labrum and torn Achilles) derailed previous seasons and led him to this point.

Mohammed Seisay (21) reacts to breaking up a pass in Week 2 during Seattle's Week 2 win versus Tampa Bay. (Photo: Rod Mar/XFL via Getty Images)

“I can’t believe I’m in this position right now, for the third straight year -- again -- playing football,” he thought to himself.

But, while he thought about the events that ended with the cornerback being wheeled off the field on a stretcher, he was worried.

“This one felt different,” he said. “This one was scary.”

He was taken to a hospital in St. Louis for X-rays and an MRI.

“I came away with fractures on the C5 vertebrate on my neck,” he said

Seisay spent the night in the hospital before being cleared to fly back to Seattle the next day for a second opinion. His injury required surgery. The realization of what was happening started to sink in.

“This isn’t going to be a quick process,” he thought to himself.

'I do feel blessed'

Now, a few weeks after the surgery, Seisay is healing. He is able to do some shoulder motions but is still wearing a neck brace, which will be required for 6-to-8 weeks “to keep the alignment right, keep my posture right so I can get healthy,” he said.

Seisay, who was able to visit practice with his teammates before the season was cut short after five weeks, has a checkup scheduled for April 3.

When asked if he had put any thought into what’s next, Seisay said he just has to wait.

“That’s the million-dollar question, because there are a lot of aspects to it,” said Seisay, talking about whether or not his football career was over. “With this being my third injury, I don’t know how much longer my body can keep going through a full offseason to start all over again.

“I don’t have that answer yet, really. If I wasn’t playing defense, I probably would have thought about it being a no-brainer, yeah, I want to play again. But, the fact that I play defense and I’ve got to tackle, torque my body a certain way and whatnot, I’m definitely high risk.”

While there is a chance Seisay has played his final football game, he is making sure to focus on the positive.

“I was blessed I was able to walk out of the hospital,” he said. “It could have gone worse. I can still walk around and do the things I can do. I just wish I wasn’t in this neck brace. I do feel blessed, for sure.”

And, while the injury was a disappointing end to the season, he is thankful the XFL provided at least one more opportunity to play football.

“I had a great time,” he said. “It was well organized for a first-year company. They did a really good job. The atmosphere was awesome, from our home games to going to away games. It felt real. It felt professional. It had that feeling that this is going to be a successful league.

“The exposure. The branding. Everything. It was awesome. It did everything it was supposed to do. It’s a great opportunity.”