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Former Light bounces back from a football scare

Former Montana State University-Northern football standout Nick Arnold has been enjoying the game of football for a long, long time.

Once his playing days with the Lights were over, he stuck with the game by playing quarterback the last several years for the Missoula Phoenix of the Rocky Mountain Football League.

However, Arnold's playing days came to a scary and crashing end when he was seriously injured while diving into the endzone five weeks ago in a game at the Billings Bullets.

"I ended up getting close to the end zone so I thought I'd just try to score and two guys were coming at me," Arnold, who played for the Lights until 2004 recently told the Missoulian. "I decided I was going to try to jump over them. When I was in mid-air one just barely clipped me in the knee, which sent me head first into the ground. It stung my neck pretty good."

Initially, Arnold didn't realize how bad he was hurt. He resisted major medical attention and while he didn't go back in the game, he didn't take a trip to the hospital either. He figured it was probably just a more serious version of the 40 or 50 stingers he suffered while playing at Missoula Sentinel and at Northern as a wide receiver for four years.

Finally, on the following Wednesday, he did seek medical help. He was quickly rushed to the emergency room after X-rays were taken. He had a C7 vertebral fracture in his lower neck and a bulging disc that was pinching nerves. Arnold's doctor told him he was "1.5 centimeters from being paralyzed from the chest down." He still has numbness in his hand and arm.

Lucky to have not been more badly hurt, Arnold insists he is hanging up his football helmet for good. However, the former Frontier All-Conference wide receiver has and will remain close to football, the Phoenix and is already back at work as a track inspector for Montana Rail Link in Missoula.

"I'll never give up this team and this game," he said of RMFL football. "This level is a lot more fun than college football ever was. College football was a job. This is just a great time."


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