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Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman Jr. details 'scary' injury, lengthy hospital stay last November

Hardman said he couldn't walk for 4 to 5 days
Titans Chiefs Football
Posted at 1:26 PM, Oct 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-19 14:37:06-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time, Mecole Hardman Jr. detailed an injury that left him laid up in the hospital for more than a week and unable to walk for several days midway through the 2022 season.

Hardman — who spoke with reporters Thursday, a day after being traded back to the Kansas City Chiefs from the New York Jets — said he was overcome by pain on Nov. 7, 2022, after the Chiefs’ overtime win the night before against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football.

Despite the injury — the team would call it an abdominal injury — Hardman finished the game and felt relatively fine the next morning.

By the early afternoon, Hardman, who'd had his best game of the season with six catches for 79 yards and touchdown, said he felt a cramp in his abdomen and laid down only for the pain to intensify.

“Every hour it got worse and worse to the point where I couldn’t walk,” Hardman said.

He called Chiefs Head Athletic Trainer Rick Burkholder, who advised him to rest and call if the pain worsened: “I called him back like 5 minutes later in tears and was like, ‘Hey, I can’t do this.’”

Hardman’s girlfriend drove him to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital, where he would spend the next 10 days.

Initially, Hardman told reporters Thursday that he “literally had no feeling in my legs for four or five days; couldn’t walk.”

“I had a few specialists who came out and each of them had different opinions,” Hardman said.

Eventually, the medical consensus landed on a diagnosis of osteitis pubis, a painful condition affecting the joints of the pubic bone most common in athletes.

“I got a lot of blood taken; we’re talking tubes,” he said, holding up his fingers a few inches apart. “I was like, ‘Bro, what are you all going to do with this.’”

It was an eye-opening ordeal for Hardman.

“It was scary, scary as hell,” he said. “Not being able to move your legs is one of those things that just makes you think, ‘Is this it?’ Finally, the feeling came back and the doctors were very particular that it would come back, just to give it time, so that gave me a little hope.”

But Hardman said the pain was unbearable as he struggled to sleep and cycled through pain medication every two hours.

“That was definitely one of the hardest low points of my life, but I got through it and am glad to be here,” Hardman said.

He said the experience was humbling, realizing how quickly the game and his health could be taken away.

“It’s one of those injuries that makes you think about a lot of things,” Hardman said. “I’m just happy to be here and actually healthy and able to do the things I normally do.”

Hardman missed the remainder of the regular season after the injury. He returned for the AFC Championship Game, but suffered a groin tear that required season-ending surgery.