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.
“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.