It’s hard enough trying to make an NFL team as a fifth-round rookie.
But when you’re dealing with a painful and frankly embarrassing illness that saps you of strength, it’s even harder.
Packers linebacker Terrell Manning dealt with an unknown stomach ailment throughout training camp, eventually finding out a parasite caused colitis, the swelling of the large intestine. That caused constant diarrhea and Manning lost 15 pounds at a time when he was trying to make an impression on coaches.
“There were times I’d be on the field, getting contact and running, running, running and I was like, ‘Dang.’ I’m about to use the bathroom on myself,’” Manning said, via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was that bad. I remember one time I got hit and literally almost used the bathroom on myself. I said, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it.'”
Coaches and trainers knew, but he kept the news from his teammates, which along with trying to play his way into a job while not sleeping and losing weight added to the pressure he felt.
“Trust me, trust me,” he said. “That was always on my mind because that’s all anybody talked about — ‘he’s not doing this, he’s not doing that.’ In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Well, I’m doing all I can with what I’m given right now.’ It was very stressful, very stressful.”
As to why he kept it a secret, he replied: “Because to me, there were no excuses. If I’m not dying, I’m going to be out here. That’s the stance I’ve always taken with football. Obviously, I didn’t think I was dying until that night I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. Even then, once they let me know what it was and gave me some medicine, I still went. I didn’t take any days off and I wasn’t going to.”
Manning said he’s gained back just over half the weight he lost during training camp (he went from 235 to 220), and feels better, medically and now that he secured a job.