CONWAY, Ark. (KATV) — One of UCA's newest assistant coaches, Reggie Howard, lived through a moment that put life in perspective. It's not a stretch to say this scary situation gave him a new purpose.
"When you have something that happens to you as far as a major injury, it humbles you and gets you to understand and appreciate any opportunity that you get," Howard said.
Howard walked on to play at the University of Memphis. In his senior season, he suffered a broken neck in a game at Alabama-Birmingham.
"While I was making a tackle on a guy, one of my teammates caught me on the back of the head. A real freak accident.
"I remember the crack. Very loud. I could hear it internally and I just felt a lot of burning pain in my back."
Amazingly, just months later, the Carolina Panthers signed him as an undrafted free agent. He played for three NFL teams in seven seasons. The highlight of his career was intercepting Tom Brady in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
The neck injury seems to affect him to this day, however, far more than that interception. Upon retirement, he launched the Reggie Howard Foundation, supporting activities for Memphis youth. Then, he felt a calling to coach.
"I was very blessed that God gave me another opportunity to play this game and I told him, if he gave that to me, I would cherish it and do something bigger with it. I guess coaching is giving back to that promise that he gave me a second chance to play the game."
After working under Mike Norvell at Memphis, he joined Nathan Brown's staff this season as the Bears' cornerbacks coach.
"Reggie just has an incredible story," Brown said. "He's had adversity in his life.
"The way he was able to come back and have an NFL career and have the success he had at the highest level of football. Then, just a bright, bright coach."