A grateful Freddie Kitchens is crediting alert medical staff and doctors for saving his life.
Kitchens, in his first season as the Arizona Cardinals' quarterbacks coach after six seasons coaching tight ends, required surgery on his aorta after a scare during practice last Tuesday.
"I have no doubt -- none whatsoever -- that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the those people," Kitchens said Monday in a statement released by the team.
Kitchens, 38, has been released from a hospital and could rejoin the team in time for the season.
"Freddie has been released from the Arizona Heart Hospital and has been cleared to continue his recovery at home, although with restrictions on activities, visitors and other limitations," the team said in a statement. "It is expected that he will return to his duties with the team, at least on a limited basis initially, at some point during training camp."
Kitchens was on the field coaching during organized team activities when he felt tightness in his chest. He reportedly joked about the symptoms initially and wasn't inclined to seek attention. He credited doctors for taking the situation seriously:
"There are so many people that I’ll be indebted to for the rest of my life and 'thank you' just doesn’t seem near enough. First to the Cardinals medical staff, [head athletic trainer] Tom Reed and his crew, [team physician] Dr. [Wayne] Kuhl. They recognized immediately that something was wrong, even when I wouldn’t admit it. They knew enough to send me right away to Chandler Regional [Medical Center] where the ER staff and attending physician jumped right in and knew how critical the situation was. They airlifted me to Arizona Heart Hospital and made the arrangements for Dr. [Andrew] Goldstein and the surgery team there to operate on me through the night.
"Looking back, I have no doubt -- none whatsoever -- that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the those people. I’ve played or coached football my whole life so I can definitely appreciate teamwork and a smooth, efficient operation but the work those doctors, nurses and medical personnel do is just incredible. Again, I wouldn’t be alive without them. I’m overwhelmed by the prayers and kindness everyone has sent my way; from the Cardinals, throughout the NFL, in Arizona, Alabama and everywhere else. I realize how truly fortunate I am and the blessing I have been given."
Kitchens played quarterback at Alabama before and during Bruce Arians' tenure as offensive coordinator there. Arians retained Kitchens from the Cardinals' previous staff when Arizona hired Arians as its head coach this offseason. Longtime NFL assistant Tom Moore has been coaching quarterbacks in Kitchens' absence. Arians has also coached the position previously.
This is great news for Kitchens and the Cardinals. Publicly suggesting Kitchens could return to an intense, potentially high-stress job within a couple months suggests Kitchens is well on his way to recovery.