Rahim Moore and Tyson Goulding were reunited at Broncos practice.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –** Their scars are eerily similar. Both nearly a foot long, permanently marking their calves.
Rahim Moore's scar is clearly more healed than Tyson Goulding's. The skin is now soft and, though the scar is clearly visible, it's faded a bit. Goulding's remains a bit red.
Their scars serve as permanent reminders of the traumatic experience they each went through. Their marks are almost like a symbol of their bond. While the scars are permanent, so is their connection.
On Sunday, June 1, Goulding participated in a 10K run. An athlete his whole life, the physical exertion wasn't anything extraordinary. He completed the race and his right calf began aching.
His symptoms became worse and his wife, Heather, took him to urgent care. The doctor informed him that he would need emergency surgery immediately in order to avoid amputation. He was diagnosed with acute compartment syndrome.
While rare, Goulding knew all about it.
Acute compartment syndrome is caused when there is increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can often lead to nerve damage and issues with blood flow.
A dedicated Broncos fan, he had followed Moore's story and experience with the same condition. During the Broncos' game against the Chiefs in November, Moore started experiencing similar pain in his left calf. He couldn't shake it and was unable to make the plays he knew he was capable of.
He didn't finish the game and when the pain didn't subside, he called Broncos head trainer Steve Antonopulos. He went to the hospital in the middle of the night where he was diagnosed. He, like Goulding, required emergency surgery. Both men were hours away from amputation.
Goulding underwent surgery on Monday following the diagnosis and then a second on Wednesday. He would end up having four surgeries in ten days.
The night after that Wednesday surgery was the lowest and most discouraged Goulding felt throughout his recovery process. Knowing how closely Goulding followed the Broncos and recalling Moore's similar struggle, a relative reached out to the Broncos to see if a call or a text from Moore would be possible to lift Goulding's spirit.
About 30 minutes later, Moore stood in his Goulding's hospital room.
When Heather informed Goulding that Moore was on his way to visit him, he didn't believe her.
"It was late at night and I had gone home for the night and it was the Broncos saying Rahim wanted to come by and I said 'Well, Tyson's probably going to be in the hospital for the next couple of weeks so come on by whenever' and he said, 'No, we want to come tonight' so I got in the car and came back to the hospital and he [Tyson] said 'What are you doing here?" Heather said. "And I said 'Rahim Moore is coming to visit you' and he's like 'Stop playing.'"
But Moore did come. Moore, then approximately seven months removed from his surgeries, served as an inspiration for Goulding. By that time, Moore had regained much of his strength in his leg and was walking and running.
He offered support for Goulding and reminded him to stay strong. Moore told him what the recovery was going to be like for him and he didn't sugarcoat it. He informed him that it wouldn't be easy, but that he knew he could do it. Before Moore left the hospital that night, they prayed together.
"He was my example that you can get back," Goulding said.
"It's been really tough," Heather said. "In the beginning we didn't know if he'd be able to walk again. We didn't know what his new normal would be. So it's been really hard but it's been wonderful to see how fast he's recovered and he had great medical care, which made a huge impact."
Fast forward to September 7, 2014. Rahim Moore is back at Sports Authority Field for his first regular season game since his diagnosis. A pass from Andrew Luck intended for Colts tight end Dwayne Allen was deflected by Aqib Talib and intercepted by Moore just inches above falling incomplete. Later in the game, the ball bounced off Coby Fleener's hands and Moore dove to catch it and give the Broncos possession.
Goulding watched the game on television as his new friend made his NFL comeback.
"It's awesome," Goulding said regarding Moore's first game back. "He said that he was going to have a great year. It's inspiring. It's really cool."
Take a look at photos of Rahim Moore from this season.
Goulding still isn't 100 percent and can't run again yet. He's still working to build his strength back.
"I'm almost three months into this so it's just a process of trying to get stronger," Goulding said. "I've been an athlete my whole life. I understand the work of working out and building muscle so I know it doesn't happen overnight. I'm still working on it."
The two friends, bonded by unfortunate circumstances, were reunited as the Gouldings were invited to the Broncos' practice preceding their Week 3 game in Seattle. It looked like they had known each other for a long time as they embraced.
Moore gave Goulding and Heather his gloves and sent them home with the cleats he was wearing during practice, which also happened to be the cleats he wore during that fateful Chiefs game a year ago. He signed them, "To Tyson, From your friend Rahim. Luv ya!"
They shared exercises that they have been using to gain mobility back and Rahim said he will send tickets their way for a Broncos game later this season. They compared their analogous scars. As they both continue their long process of recovery, it appeared that they found relief in each other.
"He looked good," Moore said about their reunion. "He looked like he's overcome a lot and I'm proud of him. He has a fantastic wife. His wife has done a fantastic job. She's so joyous and giddy and has kept a positive attitude."
"I look forward to seeing her and Tyson in the future. It's not going to be a camera thing or an interview thing. We're going to hang out, I'll invite them to the games. We're going to have dinner and we're going to hang out. Someday we'll laugh about these times."
It was a nice reunion on a beautiful Thursday afternoon. Even Head Coach John Fox came to see the Gouldings to wish them well.
Moore and Goulding lead very different lives, but they will remain friends as they both share an experience that very few have to go through.
"Tyson's very laid back and he's very quiet but right now he's in a stage where he's so thankful and so blessed. I will always be there for Tyson," Moore said. "That's a great friendship and bond to have. I want him to have joy and triumph from watching me play football and him rooting me on because at the end of the day I'm rooting him on."