Former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Reggie Williams,60, had a major health scare last month. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Williams began feeling sick during the morning of Oct. 18 and his blood pressure spiked to 200/110.
So he didn't think much of it when the vomiting and diarrhea kicked in on the morning of Oct. 18 while home in his Thornton Park condo. He then felt pressure in his throat and pain in his stomach. He took a shower. He went on the Internet, trying to self-diagnose. A couple of hours passed by before he decided to call the paramedics in the afternoon.
"It wasn't the worse pain of my life, probably not in the Top 10, but something was wrong," he said.
Per the report, Williams had an aortic dissection, meaning that "there was a tear and rupture in his aorta." He had open heart surgery later that evening.
Since retirement, Williams has faced great challenges. With over 20 surgeries on his right knee, several infections and the prospect of losing his left to amputation, Williams, through hard work and internal inspiration, is making significant strides. Six years ago, he wasn't able to walk at all. Slowly, he could move around with a crutch.
Now... he wants to run. He plans to. It's one of his goals. And he wants to do it front of everyone, writes Paul Daugherty.
He wants his first run to be at Paul Brown Stadium. He can see it, clearly enough that it has become part of his already enormous self-motivational catalog. It would occur at a Bengals game, just before kickoff, in front of 63,000 witnesses and two teams of his football-playing heirs. It would be the sort of triumphant appearance Williams never had when he retired, 25 years ago, as arguably the best linebacker in Bengals history.
And he was supposed to!
On Oct. 26, 2014 when the Bengals hosted the Baltimore Ravens.
For months, Williams had pointed his compass toward Oct. 26 in Cincinnati.
That was the day the wounded warrior would finally run again before a sellout crowd at Paul Brown Stadium, shaking off the pain of 24 surgeries, three right-knee replacements, another on his left, and multiple knee and bone infections.
He channeled that defiance daily while enlisting his list of contacts to help him along the way. His friends at Disney, where he once worked as head of the Wide World of Sports complex, built him a specialized bicycle. Another friend, former Olympic track coach Brooks Johnson, came up with the idea to build a customized walking shoe.
"Run, Reggie. Run," he kept repeating to himself.
Selected in the third round of the 1976 NFL Draft (out of Dartmouth), Reggie Williams would go on to have one of the more effective careers in a Bengals uniform. He was one of a handful of players that played on both Super Bowl teams and recorded 62.5 quarterback sacks in his career, second-most in franchise history. Williams also recovered 23 fumbles, picked off 17 passes, tied for most safeties in a career, played the second-most games by any player (206) in team history and recorded the third-highest consecutive games played (137). Williams, a 14-year player, recorded the fourth-most quarterback sacks (11.0) in a season (1981).