San Diego Michael William Jurevicius opened his eyes for the first time Tuesday night, one week after his premature birth. That was good news, but it left his father, Joe, with mixed emotions because he was not there to see it.
The elder Jurevicius was en route to San Diego, a day after his Buccaneers teammates, to prepare for Super Bowl XXXVII. He got the news in a message from his wife, Meagan, upon his arrival.
"That's the hard part," Jurevicius said Wednesday. "My wife said he opened his eyes, and I missed that. There are a couple of things I'm missing, but I guess that's to be expected."
It has been a week of unexpected developments for Jurevicius, the former Giants receiver who emerged late this season as a vital element in the Bucs' improved offense. He was elated when Michael was born on Jan. 14, but there were medical complications, and the baby, their first, since has been in neo-natal intensive care at a Tampa, Fla., hospital.
Jurevicius spent last week sleeping on a hospital bed, did not practice and seriously considered sitting out the NFC championship game. But with the encouragement of his family, he flew Saturday to Philadelphia and the next day set up the Bucs' first touchdown in a victory over the Eagles with a 71-yard reception. He said Michael's struggle had inspired him.
Upon the Bucs' return to Tampa, Jurevicius went back to the hospital, then skipped the team flight Monday to San Diego to squeeze in an extra day with his family. It has been a whirlwind, which he hopes someday to discuss with Michael.
"My son will be able to look back on this down the road and I think be pretty excited and be a pretty happy camper," he said.
Jurevicius, 28, declined to discuss in detail the nature of Michael's physical problems, but he made it clear they are serious.
"He's fighting," Jurevicius said. "He's doing a little bit better. We still have a long way to go before he's out of the woods, but he's making a little bit of improvement every day."