Stafon Johnson's Recovery Temporarily Bridges USC-UCLA Divide

Mitchell GoldenCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Stafon Johnson#13 of the USC Trojans celebrates his touchdown against the Washington State Cougars during the fourth quarter of the college football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 26, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The last two weeks were a trying time for Trojan Nation.

Stafon Johnson’s weightlifting accident silenced the BCS complaints, held off the Notre Dame analysis, and, most importantly, temporarily stifled the bitterness between USC and hated rival UCLA.

When news of Stafon’s injury hit campus, the Trojan faithful were shocked, as was the rest of the nation. After all, these athletes are physical gods. That they can get so seriously injured, even with a spotter, is frightening.

With that said, there is no changing the past. USC students and alumni alike stepped into the present and gave their complete support to Stafon and his family. Coaches and players visited their injured comrade.

But what strikes me the most—and should strike you the most as well—is that even UCLA fans sent their well wishes.

The USC-UCLA rivalry spans all aspects of Southern Californian life. While the football spats are expected, one may not expect the huge spillover into adult life.

Some parents forbid their children from attending the rival school. When USC students visit a public courthouse for a business law class, they are advised to stay clear of the UCLA lawyers and judges, who have a reputation for being less than helpful to USC students.

But Stafon Johnson’s injury put the rivalry in perspective. No rivalry is greater than one man’s health, one man’s life. While I do not plan to stop heckling UCLA in the Coliseum this year, nor do I plan to stop harassing my sister for wanting to go to UCLA, I have gained a new-found level of respect for UCLA fans.

Doctors claim that Stafon’s incredible physical strength, specifically his neck muscles, saved his life. His mental strength will pull him through this catastrophic event, and hopefully he will be able to join the team on the sideline later this year, without pads of course.

Whether he plays next year is his choice. Whatever choice that may be, the Trojan nation will be behind him every step of the way.

Until then, expect USC to fulfill the wish on Stafon Johnson’s twitter: Fight on. Beat the Irish.