Publish date:

Big D Disaster

A Dallas staffer's life changes in an instant

An NFL team relies on hundreds of foot soldiers—office support staff, training room apprentices—who don't attract the attention that players and coaches do. That changed for the Cowboys last weekend, when a tragedy thrust one of their scouting assistants into the headlines. Rich Behm, 33, was paralyzed from the waist down when his spine was severed during the collapse of the team's practice facility in heavy winds last Saturday. The accident occurred during a rookie minicamp. About 70 people, including 27 players, were inside when the 85-foot-high metal-and-fabric shell caved in.

Behm was one of three people seriously injured. Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, 43, suffered a fractured vertebra, and assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither, 35, sustained a broken right leg. Both should make a full recovery. Behm, who joined the Cowboys in 2002 as a coaching video assistant, is not expected to regain the use of his legs—but the team believes he will eventually resume his duties. Behm was an integral part of Dallas's scouting and draft-preparation operation; he maintains a vast digital database of footage of prospects and keeps regional scouts supplied with video of players. "[Owner] Jerry Jones told his family he wants [Behm] back in the office as soon as he is able," says p.r. director Rich Dalrymple. "Rich is one of those behind-the-scenes guys we can't live without."



TERROR DOME Behm was one of three people seriously injured.