Kevin Williams of the New York Jets is hospitalized in an intensive care unit and on a respirator for an ailment originally diagnosed as strep throat.
The 24-year-old defensive back has an unspecified infection of the throat and lungs. He has been sedated for most of this week and has undergone three surgical procedures to clear fluid from his throat and around his lungs.
Lenox Hill Hospital has honored a family request to withhold information on Williams' condition. The Jets will not elaborate until coach Bill Parcells meets with the media Wednesday.
Williams' mother and other family members traveled from Arkansas last week to be with him.
"I believe he's listed in guarded condition, but I have not been able to speak to him in four days," said Jerome Stanley, Williams' agent. "He's in a sedated state and not able to talk or communicate. He's not conscious more than 10 minutes at a time and has been on a heart monitor."
"Doctors are concerned about a virus penetrating the organs, the heart, then they wouldn't know what to do. That was what caused the red alert."
Williams had been in and out of the hospital for two weeks. Jets team doctor Elliott Pellman has been updated daily by the hospital. Williams also has been examined by a heart specialist and an infectious disease physician.
"He's a very, very sick young man," Parcells said.
The team advised Williams' teammates not to visit.
"They told us it wouldn't be wise to go see him," Aaron Glenn said. "He's having trouble breathing."
Stanley said he is upset the organization has not contacted Williams' family.
"There is not a job or business in America that would treat an employee like this. Nobody offered the family any communication or anything," he said.
Stanley also said the Jets placed Williams on the reserve, nonfootball injury list so they wouldn't be required to continue paying him.
The agent believes Williams' condition was exacerbated by his returning to the lineup for a game in Denver on Oct. 3 and should be on injured reserve. On that list, teams must pay a player's full salary when he is sidelined.
"I have talked to medical people," Stanley said, "and the fact it had become so difficult to diagnose was a direct result of playing in the high altitude in Denver. This is not a nonfootball related situation."
A source close to the team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Jets still were paying Williams, although the source was not certain if it was his full salary.
The Jets are known as an organization that does not abandon its players. When Dennis Byrd was partially paralyzed in 1992, the team paid his medical bills even after he retired.
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