Ravens divert plane because of Ivy's kidney tear

October 11, 2006|By Bill Ordine | Bill Ordine,sun reporter

Hours after a game, when the adrenaline has waned and the injuries have cooled, the effects of three hours or so of NFL mayhem makes itself apparent on the athletes who have spent that time in bone-jarring collisions.

"When you're coming back from a road trip on the plane, you have 53 players spread out, all in varying degrees of discomfort and pain," Ravens coach Brian Billick said yesterday.

But as the Ravens made their way home after a 13-3 loss to the Broncos in Denver on Monday night, Baltimore cornerback Corey Ivy's discomfort went beyond the threshold of what is tolerable. Team physician Andy Tucker then had the Delta charter flight diverted to Pittsburgh.

"The doctor immediately had enough of a concern, and erring on the side of caution, suggested we get Corey on the ground as soon as possible," Billick said.

Ivy, suffering from a kidney tear, was taken from the plane by medical personnel just after 4 a.m. yesterday and rushed to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian Hospital. He was in stable condition and resting comfortably yesterday, Billick said during his late afternoon news conference. Ivy was apparently injured on a special teams tackle early in the third quarter.

"First and foremost, he's OK, he's out of any real critical danger," Billick said.

"But they have to go through a series of tests to find out exactly the extent of what they need to do ... " the coach added.

It is typical on a post-game flight for the team doctor and trainer to make the rounds of injured players and after about 2 1/2 hours in the air, Tucker became concerned about Ivy's growing discomfort. Anxious to get Ivy to a hospital with the proper equipment and specialists, the doctor approached Ravens director of operations Bob Eller, who, in turn, notified the flight crew.

It then became a matter of "where and how fast," Ravens vice president for public relations Kevin Byrne said.

Within 30 minutes, the plane was on the ground being met by an ambulance. Conscious and alert, Ivy was wheeled off the plane as his teammates offered him encouragement and prayers.

Ivy was hurt on a Ravens punt about 3 1/2 minutes into the second half and the score tied 3-3. A gunner on the punt coverage team - a player who sprints downfield and tries to be the first to get to the return man - Ivy was double-teamed and knocked to the ground.

But he regained his feet and forced Broncos returner Darrent Williams out of bounds near the Denver bench after a 16-yard return. While the referees sorted out a holding call against the Broncos, Ivy stayed down.

Byrne was sitting with general manager Ozzie Newsome in the press box. At first, Byrne said, Newsome thought it was a concussion, but word soon came from below that it appeared to be Ivy's ribs.

Billick said that trainer Bill Tessendorf mouthed exactly that and the player was helped back to the Ravens sideline.

"He's being handled competently so you move on," Billick said.

The next time Billick saw Ivy, it was on the punt return team following the Bronco's ensuing three-and-out offensive series and the 29-year-old defensive back was jamming an opposing gunner, and "doing a pretty good job," the coach said.

Then, on a Ravens punt just a few minutes later, Ivy was charging downfield yet again and drew a holding penalty. He also continued playing in the defensive nickel package.

"This is a physical, violent game and there's any number of players who get injuries, stingers and the like, [and] the minute you get any discomfort [you want to] pull them out," Billick said. "But that's not the nature of the game. They saw the symptomatology, they looked in his eyes, they talked to him, `How do you feel,' they thought it was a rib injury. ... And he felt pretty good and he went back in - as he would. Corey's a tough young man. And fortunately, it didn't create any further problems."

After the game, Ivy said he was hurting but was optimistic.

"Hopefully, we can get some X-rays and we'll see that there's nothing wrong," he said.

In fact, X-rays were taken at the stadium and those were negative, team spokesman Byrne said. However, some soft tissue injuries wouldn't show up on X-rays, he pointed out.

Ivy showered and dressed but as the Ravens boarded the plane, the cornerback remained in considerable discomfort, according to Byrne.

"I was with [team president] Dick Cass and Dick asked him how he felt and Corey said, `I'm hurtin'," Byrne said.

Some of his teammates said they didn't realize how badly Ivy was hurting. "I knew he had taken a pretty good shot in the game, but he came back. I thought he had cracked ribs or something," Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said. "I didn't know how serious the injury was until they made the announcement on the plane. ... It was really scary because we're landing in Pittsburgh, which is relatively close to Baltimore. So if we're landing, it had to be really serious. It was extremely scary."

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

Sun staff writers Jamison Hensley, Edward Lee and Mike Preston contributed to this article.

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