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Former NFL wide receiver Mike Williams dies at 36 after construction site accident

Williams played in the NFL from 2010 to 2014 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Buffalo Bills.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams during a game against the St. Louis Rams in Tampa, Fla., on Oct. 24, 2010.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams during a game against the St. Louis Rams in Tampa in 2010.Michael DeHoog/Sports Imagery / Getty Images file
/ Source: NBC News

Former NFL wide receiver Mike Williams, who spent most of his professional career playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has died, the team announced Tuesday. He was 36.

The Buccaneers released a statement offering condolences to his family and friends.

“We are saddened to hear of the untimely death of Mike Williams, which has left our organization, his former teammates and fans with heavy hearts. We send our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones as they mourn this tragedy.”

Williams was seriously injured in a construction accident last week, NBC Sports reported.

Williams’ mother, Mary Rosenthal, said her family needed a “Hail Mary” after Williams was taken off a ventilator Friday, CBS affiliate WIVB in Buffalo, New York, reported Sunday. 

Williams was doing electrical work on the job last month when someone dropped a steel beam on his head, Rosenthal told WIVB. He initially walked away from the accident, but her son complained about headaches and his symptoms worsened. 

He was hospitalized days later after losing feeling in his legs and then developed a staph infection, she told the outlet. He underwent spinal cord surgery and was put on life support.

“He said, if this ever happens to me, to pull my plug because I don’t want to live like that,” Rosenthal told WIVB. “Those are his wishes. When he was a football player, he had already signed the papers.”

Syracuse University also released a statement on Tuesday expressing grief over Williams’ death.

Williams played three standout seasons for the Orange, where he compiled statistics that firmly etched his name in the top 10 of several categories among wide receivers and offensive players, the statement said.

Williams is the program’s all-time leader in consecutive games with a touchdown catch, breaking the goal line in 10 straight games, the university said.

“We’re saddened to learn of the tragic passing of former Syracuse student-athlete Mike Williams,” said the university’s Director of Athletics John Wildhack. “We extend our deepest sympathies to Mike’s family, friends and everyone in the Syracuse football family who knew Mike.”

After his time at Syracuse, the Buccaneers selected Williams in the fourth round of the NFL draft in 2010. When injuries sidelined him at Tampa he was traded to the Buffalo Bills in 2014, where he ended his NFL career.

He finished his time in the league with 26 touchdowns and 223 catches for 3,089 yards, according to NBC Sports. 

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