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Open Wounds

20091104-bitson1 20091104-bitson1

Originally Published: Nov 4, 2009 1:18 PM CDT

Kyle Dierking
Oklahoma Sports Reporter

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The scars are there, so is the pain and memories.

“I’ve been through some of the worst things in my life to where now the things that happen to me now are very minimal,” said Dan Bitson.

Twenty years ago, Bitson was a speedy All-American wide receiver at the University of Tulsa – also an NFL prospect. But less than two weeks before the Golden Hurricane played in the 1989 Independence Bowl, a drive to class forever changed the course of his life.

“I remember hearing a loud crash and boom and it sounded like a backfire like cars having accidents around me,” Bitson said. “What was actually happening was both of my femurs were fracturing. To me, that still plays in my mind very vividly.”

It was near 11th and Harvard, just a few blocks from what was then Skelly Stadium, where Bitson’s car was hit at 70 miles per hour by a driver who had a seizure.

What resulted was nearly fatal.

Bitson broke both femurs, tore all the ligaments in one knee and had total reconstruction in the other knee. He also a fractured his wrist as well and lacerated his tongue and eye. As Bitson says, he had to be put back together.

“I say put me back together because it seemed like everything was either fractured, mangled, beat up or bruised.”

After spending 50 days in the hospital and many grueling months in physical therapy, Bitson miraculously came back and played the 1991 season.

“I was very scared because I knew I wasn’t the same person that I used to be so I was pretty much faking it a little bit and now letting anyone know how scared I really was.”

He only finished the year with 129 yards receiving, but Bitson knew his calling was still football. Over the last 16 years, he’s had college coaching stops at TU, Kentucky and Auburn, but now he’s come back home to be head coach at McLain.

The Titans are 2-6 this season, but Bitson’s already making them feel like winners, both on and off the field.

“I don’t know how to fail and I’m going to get them to understand and believe that there’s a difference between a setback and being defeated,” Bitson said. “A setback is anything in their life that might happen that’s not good. They’re going to understand how to dust themselves off, get back up and keep going so they’re not going to be defeated.

“I’m not going to allow them to fail.”

Just because there are scars doesn’t mean you can’t fully heal.

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