On September 29, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku was involved in a bonfire accident that left him with multiple burns to the face and hands. He returned to the team in time for their Week 4 game against the Baltimore Ravens on October 1 and has had an entire bye week to continue his recovery.
For nearly two weeks, Njoku refused to show his face in public – even showing up to that Week 4 game with a mask covering his face. Of course, that all changed on Wednesday (Oct. 11), when Njoku shared a photo of his face on Instagram – facial burns and all – for the first time since his accident on Sept. 29.
On Friday (Oct. 13), David Njoku spoke to reporters for the first time since the accident and explained his reasoning behind showing his injuries after an initial refusal to do so. According to him, it wasn’t until he realized he wasn’t alone as a burn victim and could use his platform to show support for others out there.
“[I’ve] been getting a lot of messages from other burn victims and nurses that have burn victims. They were telling me how everyone feels embarrassed to show whatever. So I wanted to just come out forth and show myself so everyone feels a little bit better about themselves,” he told reporters after practice.
While he didn’t go into full detail about what happened before, during, and after the Sept. 29 bonfire accident, he did offer a vague breakdown – saying that he was ‘trying to have a nice little chill Friday, ended up exploding when I lit it up.’ He ‘shockingly’ called it a ‘rush,’ but said he has to be ‘smarter.’
“When it happened, my eyes were open, so I saw everything and I really should have been blinded. So luckily I’m not. So, yeah, I give all the glory to God,” Njoku said to reporters after Friday’s practice – adding that ‘all the pain and sufferings from training in the offseason are far worse than any of this.’
The Browns didn’t play well in Week 4 and ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens 3-28, but Njoku showed up when most players wouldn’t and ended up leading his team in receiving. He ended the game with 6 catches (7 targets) for 46 yards – a season-high in catches and a near-season-high in yards.
Players and Coaches Praise David Njoku for Toughness
After their Week 4 loss to the Ravens, Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski said there was never any doubt in David Njoku playing. “He was adamant that he was going to make it. That’s a scary, scary thing that happened to him. So, number one, very happy that he’s okay, and that he gutted through it,” he said.
Wide receiver and teammate Amari Cooper was quick to note how there are ‘a lot of players who definitely would not have played with that happening to them less than 48 hours before the game and for good reason,’ so he ‘was actually surprised when he played’ and said it ‘says a lot about his toughness.’
Despite having a bye week last week to continue his recovery, his status for Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers was uncertain after he missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. The good news is he returned to practice on Friday and is working towards being active for Week 6 – again toughing it out.
David Njoku was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 29 overall pick (1st round) in the 2017 NFL Draft and was touted for his size at 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds. Now in his seventh season with the team, Njoku has 222 catches for 2,520 yards and 19 touchdowns in 83 games played (54 games started).
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