Originally written on Bush League Chronicle  |  Last updated 1/13/13
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Playing in the National Football League takes its toll on players. Just ask former All-Pro defensive end Jason Taylor, who retired after 15 years in the league last season. Taylor recently made some eye-opening revelations about the hardships he faced during his playing days.In an interview with the Miami Herald, Taylor shares several examples of the difficulties he faced while competing. One of them includes a time he was only two hours away from losing one of his legs.Taylor was leg-whipped during a game once in Washington. Happens all the time. Common. He was sore and had a bruise, but the pregame Toradol and the postgame pain medicine and prescribed sleeping pills masked the suffering, so he went to dinner and thought he was fine. Until he couldn't sleep. And the medication wore off. It was 2 a.m. He noticed that the only time his calf didn't hurt is when he was walking around his house or standing. So he found a spot that gave him relief on a staircase and fell asleep standing up, leaning against the wall. But as soon as his leg would relax from the sleep, the pain would wake him up again. He called the team trainer and asked if he could take another Vicodin. The trainer said absolutely not. This need to kill the pain is what former No. 1 pick Keith McCants says started a pain-killer addiction that turned to street drugs when the money ran out … and led him to try to hang himself to break the cycle of pain.The trainer rushed to Taylor's house. Taylor thought he was overreacting. The trainer told him they were immediately going to the hospital. A test kit came out. Taylor's blood pressure was so high that the doctors thought the test kit was faulty. Another test. Same crazy numbers. Doctors demanded immediate surgery. Taylor said absolutely not, that he wanted to call his wife and his agent and the famed Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Andrews also recommended surgery, and fast. Taylor said, fine, he'd fly out in owner Daniel Snyder's private jet in the morning. Andrews said that was fine but that he'd have to cut off Taylor's leg upon arrival. Taylor thought he was joking. Andrews wasn't. Compartment syndrome. Muscle bleeds into the cavity, causing nerve damage. Two more hours, and Taylor would have had one fewer leg.The 38-year old also shares a startling account of having to stuff a towel in his mouth to "muffle his screaming" while receiving pain shots in the bottom of his feet, among other hardships.Taylor played 13 seasons as a member of the Miami Dolphins. He ranks sixth all-time in sacks (139.5) and was selected to six different Pro Bowls.Via Miami Herald.
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