Nearly eight months ago, in the scariest moment of his life, Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson suffered a seizure on the field at training camp. An unforgettably scary series of events that included an ambulance rushing to the field to transport Patterson to a nearby hospital ultimately ended in a positive result - Patterson was diagnosed with a tangle of blood vessels in his brain called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). After consulting with a series of specialists, Patterson was told that he could play through the 2011 football season without risk before opting for surgery in the offseason.
Now, after a season which head coach Andy Reid lauded as the best of Patterson's career, the defensive tackle is fully cleared of the AVM. Patterson underwent a long, invasive surgery in mid-January that leaves him with a fully clean bill of health.
"It was successful, real great," Patterson said Thursday. "I feel real blessed, I had great doctors who were able to take care of the issues that were happening. They were able to pretty much yank it out and now I'm just letting it heal and I'll be ready to go."
Patterson said that he's hopeful to be able to participate in the Organized Team Activities if he's cleared by head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder. Earlier this offseason, Reid targeted training camp as the likely start to Patterson's football activities.
"I'm looking forward to the season," said Patterson. "I'm excited. We have a lot of players coming back and have a lot of talent coming in, so it's going to be some good stuff."
As a result of his decision to postpone surgery and play through the 2011 season, Patterson was rewarded by his teammates as the recipient of the team's Ed Block Courage Award.
"I've been associated with this award for my 19 years in the National Football League and Mike is one of the most deserving candidates that I have ever been around," said Burkholder. "His courage to play with this condition and to put off further procedures until the offseason shows his commitment to his teammates and to the Philadelphia Eagles."
On March 13, Patterson, along with the other 31 individual recipients, attended the banquet for the Ed Block Courage Awards. While he had great things to say about the event, the most impactful part for Patterson was the opportunity to visit and spend time with children whose lives have been stricken with abuse, neglect or disease. The Ed Block Courage Award recipients visited the local Baltimore Courage House and spent time with the children, an experience that will stay with Patterson.
"It was a great experience," said Patterson. "It was great to show support to the kids."
One of the players with whom Patterson came in contact during the festivities was the recipient for the Houston Texans, linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Now, all of a sudden, the two are teammates.
"He's a real cool guy," said Patterson. "It was kind of shocking because I had just met him for the first time out there. I got to talk it up with him out there. You never know how things happen. He was a real good guy so I'm happy to see him out here.
"Everybody saw him last year, how well he did, I think that he's going to help us out."
Now that he has taken care of the more important issues off the field, Patterson, who is now the longest-tenured Eagle on the roster, can now allow himself to focus on his goals on the field as he continues his rehab. Always team-oriented, Patterson has high hopes for the Eagles in 2012.
"I really don't want to jump the gun or anything, but I feel very confident about our boys," said Patterson, speaking specifically about a defensive line that led the league in sacks in 2011. "Everybody that we have, they're all excited. Everybody's going to be fired up, so I'm really pumped up and excited to see what we're going to be able to do.
"I think everybody felt real good about (the end of the season). It gave us confidence. I think as long as we continue from that, I think everything will work out well for us."