Former NFL WR Mike Williams needs “Hail Mary”

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – The mother of former NFL wide receiver and Buffalo native Mike Williams said her son was still breathing in a Tampa hospital Saturday night, but used a football analogy to convey the view: “I need a Hail Mary .”

Williams was taken off the ventilator on Friday However, he stopped responding more than 24 hours later, according to his mother, Mary Rosenthal. The 36 year old was dependent on life support measures after complications from an accident at work.

“He said if this ever happened to me, I should unplug because I don’t want to live like this,” Rosenthal told Nexstar’s WIVB. “Those are his wishes. He had already signed the papers as a football player.”

Those close to Williams ask for continued prayers for his recovery. Rosenthal added a second request: Get your money back if you donated to the GoFundMe set up by Williams’ biological father.

Rosenthal said Williams’ father was not in her son’s life, yet he raised more than $6,500 by asking for $20,000 in travel expenses on GoFundMe for the trip from Texas to Florida. She said his father did not visit the hospital. Others close to Williams told WIVB this week that they would urge the community to report the link as a scam.

Williams’ father did not respond to messages from WIVB about it this week Fundraiser, which was still active on Sunday. GoFundMe page to request a refund You will find here.

Williams’ workplace accident last month was not immediately deemed life-threatening. Rosenthal said Williams was doing electrical work when someone above him dropped a steel beam that hit Williams in the head. He thought he had only gotten through the incident with a headache, but this week his symptoms worsened.

Rosenthal said Williams was initially turned away from the hospital because they thought he just had a concussion, but was admitted days later when he started losing feeling in his legs. He also contracted a staph infection that contributed to his current situation, Rosenthal said, adding that he underwent spinal cord surgery at the hospital.

Although the mother of Williams’ 8-year-old daughter said Friday that Williams appeared to be smiling as his highlight video played in the hospital room, Williams’ mother said his every move was viewed as involuntary.

Reports that Williams had died began circulating in local and national media earlier this week, but sources told WIVB that those reports were false.

Williams has two children, Mya Williams, 8, and a 10-year-old son, Mike Jr.

Tierney Lyle, the mother of Williams’ 8-year-old daughter, described Williams as a caring person who was always willing to lend a hand.

“He puts a lot of emphasis on everything he does,” she said. “He doesn’t give up easily at all.”

Lyles said that as a friend played one of Williams’ highlight videos in the hospital room, he smiled.

Williams was a standout sophomore athlete at Riverside High School in Buffalo before attending Syracuse University. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and played five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his hometown Buffalo Bills. He was last on an NFL roster during Chiefs training camp in 2016 and was living in Florida before the accident.

“A Buffalo legend,” said Naaman Roosevelt, a high school rival of Williams who later became the University at Buffalo’s all-time leading receiver.

Williams played football and basketball for Riverside and made the All of Western New York team in both sports. He was an all-conference selection in Syracuse football and also had a brief stint on the Syracuse basketball team.

“Mike is the greatest athlete in Buffalo history,” said Domonic Cook, who played AAU basketball with Williams and competed against him when UB visited Syracuse in 2017. “I told him that, and I will continue to say it to this day.” He could literally do anything. So much raw talent. He didn’t even have to train. It was just natural. My biggest wish is to see him actually play basketball at Syracuse. There will never be anyone like Mike Williams from this area again.”

Williams played in 29 games over three seasons at Syracuse and caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns, placing him second on the school’s all-time list. He caught a pass in all 28 games he played, the fifth-longest streak in school history. One of four true freshmen to play for the Orange in 2006, receiving 461 yards, the most by a Syracuse freshman since 1990. Williams was a second-team All-Big East selection as a sophomore. His nine-game streak with a touchdown reception was the longest in the country this year.

Williams was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team in 2010 and caught 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns after the Buccaneers drafted him 101st overall, the highest selection of any Buffalo Public Schools player.

Williams received a six-year, $40 million contract extension with the Bucs after scoring 23 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Less than a year later, Williams was traded to the Bills for a sixth-round pick. He was released by his hometown team after catching eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown in 2014. Williams has the second-best career yardage total (3,089) among NFL players born in Western New York, behind Rob Gronkowski (Amherst), the 42nd overall pick in Williams’ draft class.

“What he did when he left Riverside, a Buffalo city school, the amazing things he did, that was really special to see,” said Roosevelt, who played five NFL seasons and was a member Williams’ teammate was a member of the Bills practice squad in 2014. “He’s one of the few I can remember coming out of a Buffalo school in our time.”

As a 2005 high school graduate, Williams had 970 yards receiving and scored 15 touchdowns, earning him Harvard Cup Offensive Player of the Year honors and first-team Class AA All-State honors. He was ranked the No. 10 recruiting prospect in New York by before committing to Syracuse and was the first Harvard Cup player in a dozen seasons to earn a Division I-A scholarship.

On the basketball court, Williams scored 1,468 points for Riverside teams that went undefeated in Yale Cup play for two full seasons. In Williams’ junior year, the Frontiersmen became the first school in 21 years to win the Harvard Cup and Yale Cup titles in the same season. As a senior, he averaged 26.3 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. During his sophomore year, Williams was a member of the Syracuse basketball team, playing four games and scoring seven points.

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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