Super Bowl champion reveals he was ‘temporarily paralyzed’ but still played two weeks later
Derek Wolfe won a Super Bowl in 2016, but it didn’t come without some risks.
The former Denver Bronco had one of the biggest scares a football player could have on the gridiron.
During the 2013 preseason, a fullback hit Wolfe on the top of the head after a cutblock, and he was stretched into an ambulance and driven to a hospital.
That hit made Wolfe’s body go numb “from the nose down” – but Wolfe said he was back on the field in two weeks.
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“I was paralyzed for three hours, and then I played two weeks later,” Wolfe told Joe Rogan on his podcast. “It was miserable. Every time I got touched, my arms would go numb. And I’m a defensive lineman, so my head’s getting hit every play…”
Wolfe added that his team doctors underplayed the severity of the injury, saying, “it was just a stinger” and comparing it to how it takes a while for lights to turn on, but they shut off immediately.
Doctors in the hospital wanted him to stay, but team medical staff tried to convince them Wolfe was good to go just hours after the hit.
That’s when he realized “they don’t care about us.”
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The injury also had an after-effect – Wolfe had a bruise on his brain stem, which caused his brain to not get fresh blood. Twelve weeks after the initial injury, he had a seizure and was in a coma for 36 hours.
In January, Wolfe killed a mountain lion that had been “wreaking havoc in a rural neighborhood” with a bow and arrow. He hiked over 9,600 feet and “almost died on that mountain.”
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Wolfe was Denver’s second-round pick (36th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft and spent eight seasons with the Broncos. He played the 2020 season with the Baltimore Ravens before calling it a career.
He recorded 299 tackles and 33 sacks in his nine-year career.