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The athlete suffered facial and body burns back in September from what he described as an explosion during a bonfire
David Njoku is speaking out after recovering from what a doctor called "probably the most painful burn you can have."
The NFL player, who suffered facial and body burns after an at-home bonfire this fall, spoke about his injuries in a new video shared to the Cleveland Browns' social media channels.
In the clip, which showed the extent of his burns to his face and hands, the 27-year-old tight end explained that the late September incident took place during a weekly Friday night bonfire, where he plays music, meditates and relaxes.
"I ran out of my normal lighter fluid that I use to soak the wood, so I used this other one. It was a spray instead of one that you pour," Njoku said, explaining that the lighter fluid was "still in the air" after he sprayed the wood.
"So when I lit it up, it just exploded. I saw the fire come from my wrist and just blow up in my face. I didn't really feel the pain because it just happened so fast," he continued.
Later in the video, Dr. Joseph Khouri of University Hospitals said Njoku's diagnosis was "a 17-18% total body surface area burn of second degree partial thickness," which he described as "probably the most painful burn you can have."
Despite his injuries, Njoku told the doctor that he wasn't planning on missing the Browns' game against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 1, where he notably wore a mask pre-game and additional facial coverings under his helmet while on the field.
"Even putting that mask on and taking it off, bits and pieces of my skin and my face would be off," he said.
"I wrapped up my whole face, I put a ski mask over that and I put a helmet on. Every single play, whether I got the ball or not, my helmet hitting my face, I felt it every single time. When I wasn't even doing anything, just the sweat dipping ... it was intense," he added.
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Njoku also recalled taking his helmet off after the game, when he noticed his face was "torn up." He later shared an image of himself, detailing the extent of his facial injuries, on Instagram.
"It was so many DMs and messages from burn victims that are scared to show their face," Nojoku said, explaining that the post made them feel "a little better about themselves."
"Things happen, mistakes happen, and you gotta just put your best foot forward," he explained.
Njoku has since pushed to raise money for the American Burn Association (ABA), selling T-shirts as part of a limited-edition "Withstand" merch line.
"I think that's one of the messages David wanted to get out was, you can't do this alone," Khouri said in the Browns' new clip. "So that's why he's into the ABA and he's donating because it's a very, very difficult road to recover from."
Njoku has also chosen to promote the ABA as part of the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative. At the end of the clip, he held up a pair of custom cleats reading "The flesh is weak."
"It really is," he said of the quote. "Your mindset, your mentality is everything. The body will follow the mind at the end of the day. So whatever your mind tells your body to do, it will do no matter what. So I really took that to heart."
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