This article appears in the Nov. 2 issue of ESPN The Magazine
On Sept. 28, the USC football team lost its voice. That Monday morning, a barbell loaded with 275 pounds slipped from the hands of senior tailback Stafon Johnson, landed on his throat and crushed his voice box. The next Saturday, as USC prepared to run onto the field to face the Cal Bears, the quiet of reality hit them -- Johnson wasn't there. "Staf's our Hype Man," says senior wide receiver Damian Williams. "He gets us going before games and at halftime. That first game without him was tough. Our leader was missing." The Trojans were forced to quickly learn a valuable lesson: When a teammate is injured, the whole team suffers.
To continue reading this ESPN The Magazine feature, you must be an ESPN Insider.