Tuesday morning, during an Organized Team Activity, the Arizona Cardinals suffered a real scare.
QB coach Freddie Kitchens was feeling some tightness in his chest, and after a while, ended up needing medical attention. He was taken to the hospital where a CT scan showed that he had a defect in his aorta that required surgery, which he had Tuesday night.
At practice Thursday, quarterback Carson Palmer talked about what happened.
“He had complained about some tightness in his chest, jokingly, and we always like to give Freddie a hard time,” Palmer said after practice Thursday. “It was kind of funny at first, but it wasn’t very funny after (head athletic trainer Tom Reed) realized the situation and knew something was up, he took over and handled it. Everything, perfectly, and maybe saved his life.”
Palmer said it all began just as the team was starting practice Tuesday, even admitting something just “didn’t seem right.”
But, he added, Kitchens is a tough guy who never wants to miss a practice, and said they were all thinking the coach was suffering from dehydration or heat exhaustion, not a heart problem.
“We had to have the trainers come over and look at him. Freddie’s lucky we have a phenomenal training staff because they knew exactly what to do.”
Palmer said the staff knew exactly how to handle the situation.
“They knew the personality of Freddie, being stubborn and being a tough guy and hardheaded, and they took over the situation and saved his life,” he said.
So now Kitchens is in the hospital recovering, likely itching to get back to the team. Head coach Bruce Arians said Kitchens’ breathing is normal, and is “doing extremely well.”
In the meantime, assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore will fill in for Kitchens, but as Palmer said, football is pushed to the back of the list when something like this happens.
“The first thing I think of is his wife Ginger, she was on the other side of the continent with their girls, and she had to fly in,” he said. “I can’t imagine how scared she was.
“Obviously Freddie, he’s pretty tough, he wasn’t too scared going into open-heart surgery. But you start thinking about their families and just the chaos when your family is away from you and they don’t really know what’s going on; they know you’re being rushed to a hospital, being air-evaced out. It’s just scary.”