It is good to report that Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame running back Ed Podolak has fully recovered and doing well. Well, as good as expected that is, for someone coming off a hip replacement.
If you missed it or didn't know, Podolak was hit by a car traveling at 45 miles an hour and severely injured in an accident in Scottsdale, Ariz., Feb. 20, 2011."I broke both lower legs, a handful of ribs and the orbital bone around my right eye," said Podolak.
Fifteen surgeries later, "I am completely recovered from the injuries suffered in the accident but now I have to have my right hip replaced," said Podolak, who had the hip replacement April 30 at University Hospitals in Iowa City.
"It's all related to football, nothing to do with the accidents. I knew it was coming, I just didn't know when. Most of my teammates with the Chiefs have had hip replacements. Jack Rudnay has had four hip replacements. They say this is a piece of cake compared to what I've been through."
Podolak talked about his harrowing experience at a recent Celebrity Night fund-raiser for scholarships at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. One of the most popular players in his nine years with the Chiefs, he's an icon in his home state of Iowa where's he's color analyst on all Hawkeye football games after a four-year playing career. To get an idea of his enormous popularity, a full house of 278 fans paid $70 per plate to hear Podolak talk Iowa football and more.
Podolak was in Scottsdale for a wedding when his accident occurred. "It was about 12:30 a.m. after the wedding and reception and I was crossing Scottsdale Boulevard to get back to my hotel which was just across the street. It was misty and rainy and the crosswalks were about 200 yards in both directions and I was sure I could navigate across six lanes because there was not a lot of traffic.
"Serious mistake. A delivery guy from some pizza shop didn't see me and I didn't see him. I think I remembered up to a point. It seems to me I saw the car and backed up and he saw me and served but they say it's not an unusual situation for you to remember up to a point and then black out."
He did not regain consciousness until the next day. "I remember my wife had got to the hospital and that I had suffered serious body injuries. Something hit me just above my eye and split my forehead open and pulled my scalp back. They had to pull the hair line back, stich it and staple it to my head. It left a scar. I looked like I had been in a good ballroom brawl but it came out fine."
No alcohol was involved either with Podolak or the pizza delivery driver but Podolak was charged with jaywalking and fined $175.
He would remain in the Scottsdale Critical Care Hospital for five weeks where he had seven or eight surgeries. "I lost track," said Podolak, who would undergo about the same number of surgeries after being transferred to Iowa City where he got another scare.
"I got serious infection in my right lower leg," he said. "I had a compound fracture and they put in a lot of steel which is a prescription for infection. The doctor tried antibiotics and put me in a chamber submerged in a tank and lowered 30 feet below sea level which is used to exert pressure and kill infections but I couldn't get rid of it.
"Finally they had to remove the steel and take out the dead tissue. They weren't sure what they would find. They prepared me for the possibility of losing part of my leg but one of the trauma doctors said I had good enough blood supply and it wasn't going to happen and he was right."
Podolak's last of 15 surgeries came Aug. 25, just a little over a week before Iowa's opening football game of the 2011 season. "I was in a wheel chair but fortunately the first four games were all in Iowa (one at Iowa State) so I was able to travel," said Podolak. "Kirk Ferentz (Iowa football coach) promised me early that whatever needed to be done to get me to a game would be done. But by the fifth game, I could walk without a walker."
Always in the past when he was introduced at halftime of the annual Chiefs reunion game, Podolak never walked but always ran to the middle of Arrowhead Stadium. You can bet this year no one will appreciate that run more.