Football Writers Association of America Jan. 4, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
Senior overcomes amputation, 25 surgeries to play again

NEW ORLEANS (FWAA) San Jose State's Neil Parry claimed the 2003 FWAA/ESPN The Magazine Courage Award on Sunday during the association's annual awards breakfast in conjunction with the Nokia Sugar Bowl at the New Orleans Hyatt hotel.

San Jose State's Neil Parry with the FWAA's Wally Hall.

Parry suffered a broken right leg as a sophomore against Texas-El Paso in 2000. He lost the lower part of his right leg after an infection. But he underwent 25 surgeries during the following two seasons and was fitted with an artificial limb.

Parry returned to play this season mainly on San Jose State's long punt return team. He completed his inspirational comeback when played his first game since the amputation on Sept. 18 against Nevada.

Sixteen athletes, a student manager and an assistant coach, each with a special story of accomplishment in the face of difficult circumstances, were nominees for the 2003 FWAA/ESPN The Magazine Courage Award.

The award honors someone in college football who shows great courage in the face of adversity. Requirements for candidacy include displaying a courageous action on or off the field, overcoming any injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through a lifetime of hardship.

Toledo running back William Bratton, who endured a blood disorder and great pain but still played football, won the inaugural award during the 2002 season.

Nominations for the award were solicited by the FWAA. A panel of nearly three dozen FWAA members voted on the nominees and selected Parry as the recipient.

Inspired by the story of Jekelsy Johnson, a linebacker from Alcorn State who was murdered while coming to the aid of a woman being harassed by four non-students on campus, the award was created by ESPN The Magazine's Gene Wojciechowski.

Related link:
FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award