Maybe someday, the Jacksonville Jaguars' David Garrard will be a championship quarterback. For now, he'll settle for being a champion for Crohn's disease.
Garrard was diagnosed with Crohn's, a disease of the digestive system, in April 2004. It was a harrowing period in his life.
At first, Garrard thought the root of his stomach pains was a virus. When he met with the Jaguars' team doctor at the start of the team's offseason program, he was given a laxative. He threw it up that night.
X-rays revealed Garrard possibly had Crohn's and he was given medication. A week later, Garrard said his intestines were blocked, he couldn't drink water and he was vomiting frequently.
"‘You know what?,'" Garrard, speaking to reporters in Green Bay via a conference call on Wednesday, recalled his wife saying. "‘You're going to have to go to the emergency room now, because if you don't, you're going to be locked up in this bathroom and I'm not going to be able to carry you out of this house.'"
Garrard went to the hospital that night. His jaw had locked up so he couldn't tell the nurse what was wrong. He spent four days in a hospital and he required an IV to keep him nourished.
Garrard, 31, said he lost 35 to 40 points through the ordeal. Today, the disease is under control through medication, and he says he has no lingering effects.
"I haven't had to change my diet or anything," Garrard said. "I go in every year and have a wonderful colonoscopy. That's very exciting. I get to see that my intestines are clean and clear on the inside, so that's telling me the Crohn's is staying in remission and I can just continue to live my life."
Garrard, who enjoyed a breakout season last year with 18 touchdowns against three interceptions, signed a seven-year, $60 million contract during the offseason. He's slumped a bit this season with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio is quick to affix some of the blame to season-ending injuries to both of his guards in Week 1 and starting center Brad Meester missing the first six games.
There's no cure for Crohn's disease, though Garrard is doing what he can to help. Garrard's Web site, CrohnsInTheZone.com, educates visitors about a disease that afflicts about 500,000 people. And through a drugmaker, Garrard is donating $10,000 for every touchdown to research.
"I think I've been blessed with this disease so that I can put the word (out) on it," Garrard said.
And while Garrard would prefer the Jaguars' record to be closer to last year's 11-5 than this year's 4-9, he said the struggles pale compared to what he's gone through.
"It still hurts when you're not having a good season, but it really puts everything in perspective," Garrard said. "I know that I'm still playing a game that I've been playing since I was 7 years old. Not every team is able to have outstanding seasons every year, even when you're expected to. Sometimes, you're going to have things come up and you're not going to be able to live up to the hype. There's going to be a tomorrow, and hopefully you can remedy those things going forward. Hopefully, we can start this weekend by kind of turning things around a little bit."
Bill Huber is the publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garrard feels ‘blessed' to have Crohn's
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