“Anthony’s story is one of courage and dedication, with his body being burned and having to endure the agony of overcoming that, but never losing the dream and desire to show people he would not be defeated."
Bronze Star and Purple Heart Recipient,
4x Super Bowl Champion,
Motivational Speaker and Author
Against All Odds is a transformative memoir that serves as a beacon of light for those facing challenges. Whether they are self-imposed barriers of the mind or major life-threatening trauma, Anthony’s journey teaches us the power of adaptation, the importance of cherishing each opportunity, and the resilience of the human spirit.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million…
Oct. 31, 1987 — Anthony Razzano’s world would be forever changed when his happy-go-lucky life as a seventh-grader was reduced to ashes in a split second, landing him in an emergency room up against seemingly insurmountable odds.
“It’s okay to feel bad sometimes; we are all going to shed tears. But don’t live there and by all means, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Look for the strength; sometimes you’ll find it within and oftentimes it will come from another human being. But thank God for every day, because there is a blessing wrapped in every struggle.”
A single match was lit, igniting a fireball that would swallow a young Anthony Razzano whole. The garage didn’t catch fire, but he did. Razzano was treated by paramedics from Noga Ambulance and taken first to Jameson Hospital’s emergency room, but his injuries were so severe that he was flown by helicopter to West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh. There, doctors gave Razzano little hope for a life he barely even had the chance to begin. With third-degree burns over more than eighty-seven percent of his body, he was destined to become another statistic; In fact, at the time of Razzano's arrival at West Penn Hospital, the Doctors gave him a mortality rate of one hundred percent.
“We were doing something we shouldn’t have been doing,” Razzano recalls candidly when asked what he and a friend were doing in the garage at his mother’s house, waiting to play an important Pop Warner League game. “We were sniffing gasoline.”
Doctors told his parents that he would likely die overnight. But if he made it through the night, he would probably die within three days. Then, if he somehow fought through those three days, he would die in three weeks of infection. During that time, Anthony endured traumatic medical procedures, including the amputation of the fingers on his left hand. He also endured multiple bouts of sepsis where his temperature spiked to 106 degrees at one point, his blood pressure was 49 over 20, and his heart rate was 189 bpm for three consecutive days. At that point, doctors felt there was no other choice than to medically induce a coma to try to stabilize his vitals. After three more days of zero response to the induced coma and powerful antibiotics, his team feared that his heart would give out at any moment; he wouldn't make it through the night. Family members and friends held an all-night vigil, and the next morning—by some miracle—his fever broke, his heart rate stabilized, and his blood pressure rose.
“As I lay on the table, the pain of my burns being scrubbed was nearly pushing me to the edge. Being on fire is beyond imaginable, but the process of cleaning the injuries was far worse. In life, there are two types of people, those who fight through adversity and those who run from it. This was but one of many moments where I would be tested. Could I sustain the pain coursing through me? Or would I just roll over and die?”
The Last Rites
Hanging on through multiple bouts of infection and respiratory failure as specialized surgeons performed twelve skin graft operations at West Penn Hospital’s Burn-Trauma Center to graft healthy, un-burned skin from his scalp and feet onto his wounds. During the interim, when his scalp and feet were healing, his team resorted to a rarely-used technique of skin grafts from cadaver donors onto various parts of his body, hoping that this would keep the wounds protected until they were able to replace with his own skin grafts—which had less likelihood of rejection. There was no hope—so they thought—with every overnight victory being written off as a new, albeit delayed, expiration date; Razzano’s clock was ticking down, and the few days that they thought he had left would be full of pain and suffering. Last rites were administered three separate times, and his parents were told by physicians to make funeral arrangements more than once.
Both Anthony and his family remained determined and resolute in their goal to help him live another day, every day for three months. Scarred and suffering pain like no other, having received 134 blood transfusions, he was alive and miraculously made it to his discharge date. What followed was three years of rehabilitation and six years filled with 43 additional surgeries.
The New Path
Playing professional sports is in Anthony's DNA with 9 Superbowl rings in the Razzano family. No one believed he would ever play again, but survival wasn’t enough for him. Anthony couldn’t handle living his teenage years under the shadow of his injury. So, after he was released from the hospital, he continued to fight. A few years after the accident that forever changed him, Razzano became the starting outside linebacker for the New Castle Red Hurricanes under legendary coach Lindy Lauro. By refusing to accept the odds or any limitations, he could live his dream of playing football.
“The bus door opened, and with helmet and shoulder pads in hand, I stepped onto the pavement on a blustery New Castle night. Before my accident, I used to look at the stars in the darkness on nights like this and wonder about what my future held. It all seemed so far away. And tonight, I couldn’t help but feel that the future had arrived. It was time for new goals and dreams, things that would keep me alive for the years to come. There were so many stars in the sky, and so many dreams left to make a reality.”
Fast forward: Most people, by looking at Razzano, aren’t aware that he lives in pain every day. Anthony, now 47, is a loving husband and father, a successful businessman as a Certified Public Accountant and Certified NFL Contract Advisor. Now living in the sunshine state of Florida, he remains an integral and beloved community member with a passion for youth sports and the power of living each day and playing as if it were your last.
With all of the lessons he's learned throughout his recovery and his fight to get back on the football field, Anthony has built a successful business advisory firm—Razzano Consulting, LLC—where he coaches entrepreneurs on the path to success, from startup to strategic operation.
Moreover, his story of success and perseverance well into adulthood he wasn’t sure he would ever get to see, inspires others facing difficult setbacks, unexpected illness or injury and seemingly insurmountable odds to adapt, keep faith in themselves, and thrive.