BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The mother of former NFL wide receiver and Buffalo native Mike Williams said her son was still breathing in a Tampa hospital Saturday night, but used a football analogy to convey the perspective: “ I need a Hail Mary.”
According to his mother, Mary Rosenthal, Williams was taken off the ventilator on Friday as per his wishes, but became unresponsive more than 24 hours later. The 36-year-old was on life support after suffering complications from an accident at work.
“He said if this ever happened to me, I should pull the plug because I don’t want to live like this,” Rosenthal told WIVB News 4. “Those are his wishes. “As a football player, he had already signed the papers.”
Those close to Williams ask for continued prayers for his recovery. Rosenthal added a second request: Get your money back if you donated to the GoFundMe set up by Williams’ biological father.
Rosenthal said Williams’ father was not in her son’s life, yet he raised more than $6,500 by asking for $20,000 in travel expenses on GoFundMe for the trip from Texas to Florida. She said his father did not visit the hospital. Others close to Williams told News 4 this week that they would urge the community to report the link as a scam.
Williams’ workplace accident last month was not immediately deemed life-threatening. Rosenthal said Williams was doing electrical work when someone above him dropped a steel beam that hit Williams in the head. He thought he had only gotten through the incident with a headache, but this week his symptoms worsened.
Rosenthal said Williams was initially turned away from the hospital because they thought he just had a concussion, but was admitted days later when he started losing feeling in his legs. He also contracted a staph infection that contributed to his current situation, Rosenthal said, adding that he underwent spinal cord surgery at the hospital.
Although the mother of Williams’ 8-year-old daughter said Friday that Williams appeared to be smiling as his highlight video played in the hospital room, Williams’ mother said his every move was viewed as involuntary.
Williams was a standout sophomore athlete at Riverside High School in Buffalo before attending Syracuse University. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and played five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his hometown Buffalo Bills. He was last on an NFL roster during Chiefs training camp in 2016 and was living in Florida before the accident.
Reports that Williams had died began circulating in local and national media earlier this week, but sources told WIVB that those reports were false.
Williams has two children, Mya Williams, 8, and a 10-year-old son, Mike Jr.
WIVB’s Jonah Bronstein contributed to this report