TROY, N.Y. — A local team is rallying behind one of its players left comatose after complications from ankle surgery.
The Troy Fighting Irish, a semi-pro football team from the collar city, has won four consecutive northeast football alliance championships.
And while that’s certainly impressive, it’s what’s driving the team to win its fifth title that’s making headlines. The motivation is one of its own, who is not only unable to suit up, but is involved a much tougher fight.
If you ask his coach, his teammates, or his family, Jahmel ‘Flip’ Tarver was electric on the football field.
“He loved it. I mean he’d talk about the rush and the ball and catchin’ it,” said his wife, Naomi Tarver.
Known as a dual-threat quarterback for his passing and running ability, the signal caller helped lead the Troy Fighting Irish to four consecutive Northeast Football Alliance Championships.
“He’s meant so much to this football team as a leader and as a teammate. He basically epitomizes the sport of football,” said the teams head coach Pete Porcelli.
However, in January, everything changed. One night, when subbing for a friend in an indoor flag football game, he tore his Achilles tendon. His teammate and longtime friend, Michael Asamoah, was concerned about the injury, but knew Tarver would do everything he could to get back on the field.
“Jahmel is a competitor to the fullest. He’s just an athlete, an all-around athlete. And that’s why I feel like he rushed into having that surgery and everything,” said Asamoah.
But it wasn’t that simple. Days after getting hurt, Tarver went in for surgery to repair his left ankle, and what was supposed to be a solution resulted in devastation. Complications with the procedure caused him to slip into a coma — a state he’s been in for the last six months.
“It’s not supposed to happen to somebody like him and I honestly truly feel that in my heart. So, seeing somebody that you know is a good person go through something like this, its heart wrenching,” said Asamoah.
And with each passing day he remains unconscious, his loved ones continue to pray he will one day wake up.
“It’s very hard. I mean, he’s my husband, my kid’s father, my partner, and I don’t have that every day. So, be grateful for what you got because you never know when it’s going to be taken,” said his wife.
There will be a benefit in Jahmel’s honor at the AOH in Watervliet next Sunday for anyone who wishes to attend.