Freddie Kitchens once defeated death, he should have no problem handling the AFC North for the Cleveland Browns as a head coach
Stats aside, here’s yet another good reason to root for Cleveland Browns’ potential new head coach Freddie Kitchens.
Watch the NFL Films seven-minute blurb called ‘Freddie Kitchens: The Most Selfless Man in the NFL’ that includes the time when Kitchens’ aorta endured a for-most-people-fatal rip and the heart surgery he survived as a result.
Here’s a quick overview of the compelling story if you haven’t the time to check the video out.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
In the summer of 2013, former Alabama quarterback Freddie Kitchens, then thirty-nine-years-old, was the quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals under new head coach Bruce Arians.
Kitchens had worked his way up through the college coaching circuit, ending with a two-year run at Mississippi State as the tight ends and the running backs coach. After spending 2006 as the Dallas Cowboys’ tight ends coach, he got the job in Arizona.
Kitchens endeared himself to staff and players during his eleven-year stint with the Cardinals, including buying a top-notch Santa costume and bringing a sack full of presents to the young kids of his starting NFL quarterback Carson Palmer.
"“Freddie’s one of my favorite people on the planet. He’s one of those guys that whoever meets him just falls in love with the guy. He’s genuine, he’s honest. You talk to him for five minutes and you walk away going, man, that’s a good dude.”"
On a Tuesday during OTA’s in June of 2013, Kitchens was jogging out on the field and he heard something popping in his chest and his vision started going white. After he made a few ‘anyone else ever get dizzy?’ comments, Palmer had Tom Reed, the team trainer, go check him out.
Like a real man, Kitchens resisted, and like a real-er man, Reed insisted.
Kitchens’ heart rate and blood pressure were low enough to have Reed call an ambulance for a trip to the hospital with “nothing but argument out of Freddie,” who just thought with some IV fluids he’d be fine.
Reed told him, no Freddie, something’s wrong.
Kitchens’ family was out of state, so he was driven to the hospital by a student trainer who, despite trying to personally take Freddie into the emergency room, was sent by Kitchens to find a cell phone charger because he “didn’t know what’s going to take place here.”
After a CT scan, the technician said Kitchens had to return to the Emergency Room and when he asked if he’d had a heart attack the X-Ray tech said, “I wish.”
Kitchens had suffered an ascending aortic dissection, which means that the wall of the main blood vessel coming out of the heart, the aorta, had torn internally but had not ruptured, which would have been fatal. Though Kitchens’ doctor admits that most people who suffer this malady don’t make it to the hospital alive.
They told Kitchens he had a 20% chance to survive and booked him a helicopter ride to Arizona Heart Hospital for emergency surgery. With his life hanging on the balance, Kitchens’ first thoughts weren’t of himself, but of his young daughters, who’d wondered what it would be like to ride in a helicopter.
So on his airlift to life-saving surgery while looking death in the eyes, Freddie took cell phone pictures of his helicopter ride for his baby girls to see.
Man, that’s a good dude.
"“He’s just so outside the box about thinking about everybody before himself.”"
It took ten hours of emergency surgery for doctors to repair and reconstruct Kitchens’ aorta, replacing it with a mechanical valve.
Now, jokes Reed:
“He’s like that alligator in Peter Pan where you can here him ticking… you can hear him coming all the time.”
Reflecting back on his brush with death, Kitchens says he’s always been one of those guys that’s respected life, who’s lived every day like it’s going to be his last.
"“As you go through part of being a team…you realize the people around you care about you more than you realize… It costs absolutely nothing to be nice and you’re kind of the author to your own story. This is my story now.”"
The Cleveland Browns could have a new leader in Freddie Kitchens, who not only knows how to bring the best out of his quarterback, his team, and his heart, he knows how to win – at football, at friendship and at life.
Just a whole lot more reasons to love this good dude, this selfless Santa who could help gift Cleveland a sack full of W’s in 2019 and beyond.