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Update on Former Bengal Reggie Williams

Posted May 28th, 2009 by RetiredPlayers

The Cincinnati Enquirer recently updated the health condition of former Bengals’ linebacker Reggie Williams.  Seven months ago Williams was fighting to save his right leg that had been ravaged by football injuries and infection. Doctors feared that an extensive bone infection and a surgical wound that refused to heal would force them to amputate Williams’ right leg.  The surgical wound left a hole in the linebacker’s leg that doctors filled using a flap of his calf muscle.  Williams endured this procedure not once, but twice.

Reggie Williams is assisted by physical therapist Steve Murray as he exercises by the East River while undergoing treatment for his chronic knee injury at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York in 2008.  Associated Press file/Stuart Ramson

Reggie Williams is assisted by physical therapist Steve Murray as he exercises by the East River while undergoing treatment for his chronic knee injury at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York in 2008. Associated Press file/Stuart Ramson

“I remember my orthopedic doctor kidding about (my knee) earlier when I first started getting a lot of blisters, which signaled the problems I was about to have.  He basically said a gastroc flap looks like a hamburger sitting on your knee,” Williams said.  “I ended up with a Double Whopper.”

Today, the crutches are gone and so is the immediate threat of losing his leg.  There is still plenty to remind the 14-year NFL veteran and Dartmouth graduate of what he has endured.  Without a right calf muscle it is difficult for him to lift his foot.  After a year on crutches, the right side of his body has atrophied to the point that he can’t walk down stairs or ride a bicycle.  Williams will have to take antibiotics for the rest of his life.

In 1986, Reggie Williams underwent microfracture surgery on his knee to attempt to extend his career.  He played three more seasons in the NFL after the surgery.  Doctors have operated on Williams’ knees 17 times, including replacing both of his knees.  In late 2007, Williams left his job as an executive with Disney when he could no longer endure the pain from his football related injuries.

Last June, Williams estimated his medical bills were around $500,000 and more bills have accumulated since that time.  Even though his medical insurance through Disney covered a good portion of his medical care, Williams still owes a substantial amount in out-of-pocket expenses.  The NFLPA and NFL Management Council denied Reggie Williams application for NFL disability benefits.  Last year, Williams applied for medical expense reimbursement through the NFL.  He was awarded $5,000 in November of 2008 and still has not received the check.

Throughout this ordeal a positive attitude has helped ease some of the pain.

“I sort of developed a mind set about not being negative about anything,” Williams said. “I feel very fortunate to have my leg and to be of sound mind and good character.”

Reggie Williams is the perfect example of a man who excelled both on and off the football field.  He played on battered knees as an NFL player with the blessing of the team medical staff and the promise of lifetime medical care for his football related injuries from the NFL.  Instead of continuing to serve as a vice president at the Disney Corporation, he spends three hours a day rehabbing the right side of his body.

We posted a link to a video of Reggie Williams in a previous story.  The story is truly inspirational and worth a second look.  You can view the video by clicking HERE.

12 Responses to “Update on Former Bengal Reggie Williams”

  1. comment number 1 by: George Visger

    Reggie,
    You are a true warrior and a class act. I admire your attitude you maintain even through the adversity you have endured. I too have suffered through the carnage of the NFL, having survived 9 brain surgeries, multiple grand mall seizures, 3 knee operations, crushed C6 and C7 vertebrae and a fractured S 8 vertebrae and was forced to sue the 49ers for Workers Comp after my final season (81 superbowl champs), to get brain surgeries # 2 and #3 paid for, which occured May of 82 just 4 months after our Super Bowl victory over Cinn. Took me till 86 to settle, during which the entire time I had creditors breathing down my neck to have the brain surgeries paid for, while I had 2 more knee surgeries repairing what the piece of crap Dr. Behling, 49ers ortho surgeon, never repaired properly. I have never seen a peny of the so called pension money they have for us. I was relayed to Scot Bolzen thru the Mallory Men website (I played for coach Mallory at Colorado 76-79), Scot played for Mallory at NIU 82-84 and later with Cleveland. 8 months ago he suffered a non football related brain injury, which coach posted on his website yesterday. I spoke to Scot for 45 minutes tonite. He doesn’t rember his own wife of 22 yrs, his children or what his own values are as he put it. Though I did not play with him or even at the same school as Scott, I told him we are all a part of a very exclusive brotherhood, and when times get tough we need to circle the wagons and lean on each other for support. In Jan of this year I lost my job, same week my wife was notified she probably won’t have her teaching position with 9 yrs tenure due to the budget crisis in CA. I owned an environmental Consulting business Visger & Asso for several years in Sacramento and merged with a large Geotech firm GeoEngineers to open their 15th office but first in CA, 2 1/2 yrs ago. Merged for stock options but wasn’t vested till 3 years when they let me go. My Colorado Buff Brothers heard I took a shot and came to the rescue. They started what is known as the Bee and Buff Honor Fund, and guys pitched in to cover me for 6 months house payments till I got my feet moving. They made 3 house payments for me and my family till I got 3 business back up and running and I feel compeled to reach out to all our injured brothers. I don’t know what I can do for you except offer anything I can. I have been blessed and feel its my obligation to help anywhere I can. I have recently started conducting motivational/goal setting speeches titled “What Ever it Takes – USING Adversity to Reach Your Goals, which is the title of a book I’m working on . I use my own experience of suviving 7 brain surgeries (9 to date now) and been given last rites before I finally finished my Biology degree at the age of 32 in 1990 (I will be 51 this year I think). Sorry about the length of this brohter but know you are in my prayers and I offer my services in any way I can help.

    As we say at CU, The Strength of The Buff is in The Herd

    Keep the Faith

    George Visger
    SF 49ers 80 & 81

  2. comment number 2 by: Jessie Griffith

    Reggie…..I realize it has been forever since you used to come into my running store in Flint Michigan, Complete Runner, to buy running shoes, etc. However I have been following your struggle to regain your mobility and strength since last fall. I’m now in the New York area and would have been more than glad to have helped you out during your exhaustive stay in the city. It is unconscionable that the NFL has denied you disability benefits! Pay it no mind…you are made of incredibly stong stuff. I wish
    you the very best with your continued progress.
    J.G. Griffith

  3. comment number 3 by: Paul Widefeld

    Reggie:

    I have had 1 ACL reconstruction and am due for a second on the same knee due to slipping on wet pavement of all things! (The first was football, of course in a Junior league years ago). The two things that have helped me immensely are: 1. DMSO; 2. Any monounsaturated oil (I prefer Sunflower). The DMSO was obtained through a vet. Do your due diligence, but it is profound. The running community uses it for joint-related problems. It is the boil-over byproduct when trees are pulped and papered. Of course, it is not available as a med or OTC because it actually works, hence big pharma won’t allow it. The mono-un fats lubricate your joints and allows the necessary vitamins to do their thing. Both combined are immune system boosters. All the best. I think you and Kevin Walker (and CP) should start an ACL Reconstruction fan club!
    Best regrads. Sincerely, Paul Widefeld

  4. comment number 4 by: Gregory Turner

    Dear Reggie, It breakes my heart to read about your leg surgries. I’m also from Flint ,Mi.I grew up on Wayne st.I believe you grew up on McPhail. We both attended Whittier jr.High and Flint Southwestern. I rember walking home from Whitter . I was with friends. You had school books in both arms. It was cold that day as we walked along the creek side. you bumped into my friend.some words were exchanged,and the two of you fought all the way into creek.My friends glasses went floating down the creek,and your dress shoes and blue shadow striped pants began srinking up your legs. You just picked up your books and told my friend,next time i’m gonna kick your ass. That was the spring of 1969.Reggie I have always watch you play football ,and I tell all my friends,that guy is from flint. GOD bless you Reggie I’ll be praying for you

  5. comment number 5 by: Gregory Turner

    Dear Reggie, It breakes my heart to read about your leg surgries. I’m also from Flint ,Mi.I grew up on Wayne st.I believe you grew up on McPhail. We both attended Whittier jr.High and Flint Southwestern. I rember walking home from Whittier . I was with friends. You had school books in both arms. It was cold that day as we walked along the creek side. you bumped into my friend.some words were exchanged,and the two of you fought all the way into the creek.My friends glasses went floating down the creek,and your dress shoes and blue shadow striped pants began srinking up your legs. You just picked up your books and told my friend,next time i’m gonna kick your ass. That was the spring of 1969.Reggie I have always watch you play football ,and I tell all my friends,that guy is from flint. GOD bless you Reggie I’ll be praying for you

  6. comment number 6 by: Josh Voltz

    Hey all this may concern to…

    I am a senior in high school and I had to do a research project and then post it to see what everyone else thinks of my research, whoever could possibly read this and post back comments, concerns, or just give me some info if i got something confused or not… so here goes

    The NFL states in many different articles on what kind of protection plans and what not for the retired players of the NFL, I have read through multiple things saying they have this, that, and that one thing… even though these things that they do have plans for are quite serious injuries, there are still quite a few players who actually have serious things done to parts like the spine and brain.

    Let’s take Reggie here for example. We all know what was done to his legs could only be done by the NFL, because I don’t think anyone can cause so much damage outside in the world unless they jump off a cliff or crush them some how… yet the NFL still didn’t want to help him and they didn’t help him. The article above states he had to pay it all, with the help of the Disney insurance of course.

    So what needs to be done? What can be done to prevent a situation such as Reggie’s from happening again? I can’t tell you. But what I do know is that the NFL needs to start taking responsibility for it’s players or the problem about the NFL and how it treats their retired players will eventually be a major problem with the public and the NFL will lose some of it’s popularity in the public.

    … SO that is what i did my research on, like as i said before comments, concerns, or just wanting to “correct” what i researched in case i mixed it up would be greatly appreciated

    Thank You


  7. [...] Reggie Williams, the onetime Bengals linebacker and later Cincinnati city councilman, who nearly lost his right leg early last year because of infection and old football injuries. [...]

  8. comment number 8 by: William Burns

    Reggie;
    I had no idea of all that you’ve gone through. I was so saddened to hear of all your troubles. I still remember playing football in the parking lot at Quinn Chapel Church, and how fine an athlete you were even then. You and Ricky Taylor were also such good home run hitters that I thought your future lay in baseball.
    Later, when traveling to Florida, I drove through Cinncinatti and saw your face on a bilboard. I was so proud. When I saw you tackle Franco Harris in a game, I knew you were for real :)
    You were a class act growing up, and you’re a class act now.
    Billy Burns

  9. comment number 9 by: Joan Wasserman

    Dear Reggie,

    I live in Dayton Ohio and a friend of mine saw you recently at Central State University. I lived in Clifton in Cincinnati and our boys were friends when they were litte. I had no idea what you have been through these past years. My heart goes out to you and everything you have endured. I am astounded that the NFL has not helped you and I assume many other of its wounded warriors. Shame on them. My thoughts and prayers are coming your way for continued strength, healing and health. I wish you all the best. Thank you for everything you have done to make the communities we live in better.

  10. comment number 10 by: DeArmond Carter (Chat)

    I am astounded but not surprized that someone who in all liklihood has never played a minute of professional sports would hide under the name of their company while attempting to ” blame the victim “. I expect that if we checked the background of both Total Knee and the author of the disgraceful piece printed above, we would probably find a company whose survival depends on the NFL and an individual who is a “little” angry animal who wants to pass as a homosapien. Reggie, you gave it all and we will always respect you for your dedication. I pray that you are blessed in your life and that you remain positive in your outlook on life. Remember, Life is unfair and men are worse but God is Great!

  11. comment number 11 by: Dennis Gavranovich

    Mr. Williams, I was hoping to connect live. A company I work with has a low frequency ultrasound technology that might be able to save your leg.www.arobella.com The system is in several high profile hospital systems that include the Mayo Clinics, Tower Woundcare at Cedar Sinai, Cleveland Clinics, Duke University Woundcare, Walter Reed Army MC, Madigan Army MC, etc.. We have a minimally invasive treatment that would need to be discussed. Please contact me at your convenience.
    Dennis Gavranovich

    Allied Medical Resources, LLC
    Dennis Gavranovich
    Minneapolis, MN
    763-521-4055 office
    763-521-6253 fax
    612-419-6966 cell
    DennisGavranovich1@gmail.com
    MANA Member

    Arobella Medical/ ARB Medical

  12. comment number 12 by: plastic surgery companies

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
    There’s no doubt that that you need to publish more about this subject,
    it may not be a taboo subject but usually folks don’t talk
    about these topics. To the next! Kind regards!!

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