As horrifically as it began, running back Stafon Johnson's final season at USC ultimately seemed like a feel-good story. In September of 2009, less than a month into his senior season, Johnson survived life-threatening injuries and emergency reconstructive surgery on his throat after losing his grip on a loaded bench-press bar during a routine workout. From there, his speedy recovery was almost miraculous: Johnson was able to speak again by November, rejoined his teammates for pregame introductions on senior day, earned a roster spot in the Senior Bowl and eventually signed on as a rookie free agent with the Tennessee Titans before last season.It seems the story's not going to have a very feel-good ending, however, according to the L.A. Times' Gary Klein, who reports today that Johnson's attorney has scheduled a press conference for next Monday to announce the filing of a personal injury lawsuit against USC. It's not certain yet how much money he's seeking, as both sides refused comment this afternoon.I'm a fake doctor, not a lawyer, so I won't speculate on the merits of Johnson's case. On-field injuries are universally regarded as "part of the game" – note that Johnson isn't suing the Titans, the Seahawks or the NFL for the season-ending ankle injury he suffered in a preseason game in Seattle last August, which cost him his entire rookie season – and are presumably accounted for as such in the many, many documents players sign when they arrive on campus. Weightlifting injuries, though, are less routine, especially ones as freakish and severe as the one Johnson suffered in the prime of his college career. If the subsequent damage to his throat didn't cost him a shot at making it in the NFL (again, he spent the 2010 season on injured reserve because of an ankle injury), it probably did cost him a chance to be drafted, which could mean a significant loss of income compared to signing as an undrafted free agent.All of that will be for the lawyers to hash out. But as the ending to a rousing comeback story, it's a disappointingly icy turn either way.- - -Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday. 1141 days
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