Former Bengal Reggie Williams Fighting to Save His Leg

Posted November 5th, 2008 by RetiredPlayers

Reggie Williams’ list of accomplishments is impressive even when you exclude his NFL career.  Born with impaired hearing, he attended the Michigan School for the Deaf.  He left high school with a 3.8 grade point average and graduated from Dartmouth College.  Williams was a member of the Cincinnati City Council and spearheaded legislation which helped end apartheid in South Africa.  He also served as vice president of Walt Disney Sports Attractions.

Throw in that Reggie Williams is the last Ivy League player to receive First Team All-America honors in football, played fourteen seasons in the NFL, competed in two Super Bowls, was named NFL Man of the Year in 1986, Sports Illustrated’s Co-Sportsman of the Year in 1987 and his accomplishments may be unmatched.

Williams traveled from his home in Orlando to New York for knee surgery and what he thought would be a brief stay in the Big Apple.  His brief visit has turned into a seven month stay while living in a studio apartment.  He has had nine surgeries since he arrived in New York and undergoes daily infusions of intravenous antibiotics.  Now Williams isn’t just hoping to walk again.  Reggie is fighting to save his right leg from amputation.

At 54 years old, Reggie Williams’ goals have changed.  The sky was the limit for his goals as a social reformer, but his current goal is something that is an everyday occurrence for most people.  Williams simply wants to be able to pick up and hold his two year old granddaughter.  He says that being able to do that will be his Super Bowl victory.

Reggie Williams has had both of his knees replaced and has undergone twenty knee surgeries.  However, the NFLPA and NFL Management Council denied Williams application for disability benefits.

Throughout his health problems, Williams optimism and will are seemingly unmatched.  He found inspiration in an e-mail he received from Bishop Desmond Tutu when his infection became so bad that he was quarantined in a New York hospital.

Click HERE for an inspiring video on Reggie Williams’ accomplishments and his current fight to save his leg.

13 Responses to “Former Bengal Reggie Williams Fighting to Save His Leg”

  1. comment number 1 by: chris burford

    Reggie, my prayers for you….this NFL former player disability issue is just a disgrace to the NFL owners, The NFLPA….and the current players..who have often received to much for to little. Hopes for improvement in your situation. Stay focused…you’ve accomplished so much and have gotten a short straw, but it’s not over yet. Best Wishes, Chris Burford Texans/Chiefs 60-67

  2. […] Williams traveled from his home in Orlando to New York for knee surgery and what he thought would be a brief stay in the Big Apple.  His brief visit has turned into a seven month stay while living in a studio apartment.  He has had nine surgeries since he arrived in New York and undergoes daily infusions of intravenous antibiotics.  Now Williams isn’t just hoping to walk again.  Reggie is fighting to save his right leg from amputation. READ MORE […]

  3. comment number 3 by: dickdolack

    was a league official for 25 yea. with my first knee surgery causedby mike ditka in1968. sincw i havw had 8 knee surgeries and 5 replacemants but dont look as bad qs inthe pictures of reggie williams. feel not much could possibly be done in my situation but thats part ofmy story. thanxs dick dolack

  4. comment number 4 by: Keith Simons

    I’m a 4 year NFL vet and played with Reggie in 3 college all-star games. I know thet Reggie is a stand-up guy. It’s incomprehensible how the NFL and the NFLPA is treating this situation, as well as others. It’s things like this that cheapen the “experience of a lifetime” of playing in the NFL. This is another case of how Amwerica eats it’s young. Good luck Reggie.

    Keith Simons
    ’76-’77 Chiefs, ’78-’79 Cardinals

  5. comment number 5 by: Gordon A. Wright

    Orlando, Florida resident and NFL Offensive Guard 67,68,69,70 Eagles/Jets.
    Psalms 23,50,51 are some specific prayers to pray.
    my Chapel members and I will be praying theses prayers for you and with you Reggie. Christ Jesuswill send his healing angel Raphael touch your knee.
    In Jesus service.

  6. comment number 6 by: Dave Pear

    Dear Reggie,
    It truly saddens me to see how the NFL and our union the NFLPA have turned their backs on disabled and retired players. The NFLPA continues to violate ERISA law, HIPAA and conflicts of interest are pervasive throughout the league. The contempt they have for retired players is unfathomable. Greed is their motivation and they have NO shame. Please, continue to hang in there and be strong as we continue to expose their fraud. I only wish there was something more we could do to help.
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  7. comment number 7 by: John Hogan

    Reggie’s impairment clearly meets Social Security disability criteria. Not that SSA always does the right thing the first time, but they do have numerous rules and regulations in place so that you know what is needed to prove a case. Not so with the Bell/Rozelle Plan, where applying for disability is a crap shoot, and up to the discretion of the Retirment Board. Assuming that Reggie’s case will untimately be granted by the Plan, the further crime is that the most he can hope for is “inactive” T&P as he has been out of the League for more than 15 years. Although the disability is clearly football-related, becoming disabled more than 15 years after playing disqualifies a retiree from getting the much higher-paying “football degenerative” benefit. Also, while NFL related, neither the League nor the NFLPA will not be providing any on-going medical coverage for disabled former players. These are a few of the changes that need to be made to the Plan.

  8. comment number 8 by: Earl Thomas

    My brother Jimmy that also played in this league sent me the e-mail showing Reggie and the problems that he is having.I was shocked and saddened by pictures of his knees.Unbelievable.I undersatnd that through the NFL Alumni that their are funds availiable for our own.Since the Headquarters is in Orlando, those funds through that office should be offered for assistance.
    We all need to pray for Reggie and ask god to protect Reggie.May God Bless you and keep you safe.
    Earl Thomas
    Houston Texas

  9. comment number 9 by: Earl Thomas

    These pictures need to be sent to all active players
    Earl Thomas

  10. comment number 10 by: John Hogan

    The NFL Alumni office is in Ft. Lauderdale. It is my understanding that their original purpose was to assist retired players, but their main focus has been childrens’ charities. The dire need assistance that they, or the PAT fund, the Gridiron Greats and Fourth & Goal might provide is no substitute for on-going disability income and medical benefits.
    John Hogan

  11. comment number 11 by: John Matson


    The power of the HEALING HANDS OF ALMIGHTY GOD ARE WITH YOU AND WILL CONTINUALLY BRING YOU CLOSER TO BETTER HEALTH EACH DAY! My brother Pat Matson was also a Bengal and he is going through many of the same negligent provisions of the NFL and the NFLPA. I have written to Roger Goodell with no response. I have not even received an acknowledgement of the information I sent him. He is a mouthpiece for the NFL MACHINE. Roger Goodell and the former President of the NFLPA, Gene Upshaw were out for two people, Gene and Roger. They remind me of the executives that were with ENRON and the ways they shafted the entire employee roster. Lost funds invested and worthless 401K’s. Why? The corporate design is self serving and the nieve attitude of the fan base that watches, cheers and admires the players will not get up from the couch and show their disgust. The NFL wants to go to court! The NFL legal corp will keep you in court until you die. The warchest the NFL possesses and the style the NFL projects is beyond understanding and comprehension. The NFL hides behind their minor monetary contributions to Boys and Girls Clubs and similar community organizations so that the public thinks they are good guys. Trust me in this statement: “The NFL and the NFLPA are mining hundred dollar bills minute by minute and shirking their moral responsibility to the heroes that left it on the field without honestly giving back to these heroes to meet each need that presents itself on a daily basis.” The NFLPA trust fund has in excess of $964,000,000.00 which yields millions of dollars yearly at just 4% ( An average bank CD rate ) without paying the medical bills and living expenses of the few forgotten players that have real living needs. I have read the Congress Report, 185 pages, that Congressman Conyers and others in Congress, have stated the inadequate medical procedures and reviews of benefits that exist. Reggie we are with you and the other at need retired NFL players that are being treated like the dirt by the NFL, the NFLPA and the NFL team owners. Shame on all of them! I can be reached in Denver, 303-710-0115. God Bless you and may each day ahead be filled with ABUNDANT BLESSINGS!

  12. comment number 12 by: Brian Patrick Clarke

    Having just found this website and info on Reggie, I thought that the readers/posters might like to read this update on Reggie’s recovery:,0,4148306.column

    I was searching for a contact email when I found this “Retired Players” link, and though it did not provide the info I sought, I will use the email for the Orlando Sentinel columnist, David Whitley, and ask him to forward my note. David’s email is [email protected]

    Brian Patrick Clarke

  13. comment number 13 by: Sandesh Deshkar

    This NFL player from 1976 through 1989 played all 14 of his pro seasons for the Bengals. His passionate, rugged play helped the Bengals reach two Super Bowls. It also took a surgical toll on his knees.

    Fifteen total surgeries on his right knee. Three on his left knee. Both knees replaced in a 2005 surgery.

    It is the pain of the swollen right knee that hinders him most today.

    He walks on crutches, dragging the right leg along. Often the pain in it is unlike anything he experienced on the field during his playing career. He said the knee talks to him. He talks to it.