Bills tight end Kevin Everett has been released from a Houston hospital to resume his next phase of rehab, 10 weeks since sustaining a severe spinal cord injury.
"While this news is a significant milestone for me, I still have a long journey to full recovery," Everett said in a statement released Sunday by Houston's Memorial Hermann/TIRR, where the player spent the past two months in rehab.
It was unclear when this week he was released, but Everett will continue his rehab at the facility as an outpatient.
"I was fortunate to meet many extraordinary people at Memorial Hermann/TIRR, many who have suffered the same or similar injury as myself, many of whom I now consider friends," Everett said. "Their courage and determination inspired me to fight every day for recovery of my ability to walk."
Everett returned to his home in Houston in time to watch the Bills (5-4) host the New England Patriots (9-0) on Sunday night.
In a surprise, Everett delivered an inspirational message to his teammates and fans before the game.
"How are you doing Buffalo? This is Kevin Everett," Everett said in a taped message broadcast on NBC and the Ralph Wilson Stadium video scoreboard. "I just want to say, 'Come on, let's beat the Patriots.' "
The sellout crowd watched in silence and then broke out in a wild cheer after the 25-second clip was broadcast prior to the opening kickoff.
Except for releasing statements through press releases, the comments were the first Everett has made publicly since he was hurt while making a tackle covering a kickoff during Buffalo's season opener against Denver on Sept. 9.
He has made significant progress since he was carried off the field paralyzed from the neck down, and after doctors initially feared he'd never walk again.
Besides moving his arms and legs, Everett has developed enough strength to hold himself up briefly on a walker, and has also been using his feet to push himself around in a wheelchair.
Everett spent the first two weeks recovering at a Buffalo hospital before he was transferred to Houston because doctors felt it was important for him to be close to his family and friends. The player makes his offseason home in Houston and grew up in nearby Port Arthur, Texas.
"You know with all the support and love you've been giving me out here, just letting you guys know it's been special to me," Everett said in his broadcast message. "I'm out here in Houston, working hard out here rehabbing. Just want to say thank you to all my teammates and the city of Buffalo,as well as the fans of America."