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In a different arena, Cleeland did his best
As a tight end, Cameron Cleeland is best known for what once was done to him and for what he hasn't been able to do. He sustained damage to one of his eyes during an infamous training camp hazing incident his rookie season with New Orleans and has had difficulty avoiding injury since.
In six seasons with the Saints, Patriots (2002), and Rams (last year), he has played in every game only twice because of an assortment of injuries, among them three to his Achilles' tendons.
Not since he caught 54 passes in 1998 after arriving as a second-round pick out of the University of Washington has Cleeland been on the field long enough to meet the expectations.
But when Judgment Day arrives, Cleeland will be able to say that, for one moment at least, he did what he should have done.
Around 8:45 p.m. last Sunday, Timothy Roth's car struck a tree near the intersection of Little Mountain and Amick roads, southeast of Mount Vernon, Wash., which is about 70 miles north of Seattle. Roth's 1994 Ford Taurus became engulfed in flames.
He had to be airlifted to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center, where he died at around 3 a.m. the next day from burns, according to the Washington State Patrol. Roth was 22.
When Cleeland came upon the accident scene, he didn't drive by or place an emergency call from his mobile phone, as perhaps many would have.
Cleeland, who is from nearby Sedro Woolley, pulled over and did unto another what he would have done unto him.
Rather than wait for the Big Lake Fire Department, Cleeland attempted to fight the blaze with an extinguisher, state troopers said, and while trying to remove the car's air bag from Roth's face, he suffered another injury -- severe burns to the hands with which he makes his living.
Fortunately, Cleeland is still alive, and apparently in the days since his rescue attempt has been thinking more about Roth and his family than about himself.
Rams spokesman Artis Twyman said he spoke last week with Cleeland, who is unsigned, and the tight end requested that the Rams not put out a news release and decline interviews on his behalf.
"Cam was really shaken up about it when I talked to him," Twyman said.
"I tried to talk to him but I could tell he didn't want to talk about it too much or go in depth, out of respect for the family.
"He said it's something you really don't want to experience in life. It must have been really bad; I could hear him getting choked up."
A memorial service for Roth was held yesterday in Langley, Wash.
As for Cleeland, he may have been a Patriot for only a season, but he will be a hero for the rest of his life.
Re: In a different arena, Cleeland did his best
Wow that's freeky. He took action and did what he could, which is all we can hope to do in a similiar situation. That memory is not going to leave him for a long time. That is a sad story. 22 is young to die.
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