Bucs' Nicks, Tynes have MRSA infections

Bucs guard Carl Nicks did not play in either of the team's two preseason games.
Bucs guard Carl Nicks did not play in either of the team's two preseason games.
Published Aug. 23, 2013

TAMPA — Bucs guard Carl Nicks developed a blister on his left foot. Kicker Lawrence Tynes had an ingrown toenail on his right foot.

Now both are sidelined indefinitely by MRSA, a serious staph infection that might have spread through One Buc Place, the Bucs' training facility, general manager Mark Dominik said Thursday.

The Bucs said they discovered the MRSA, a powerful bacteria resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics, while in New England last week and had the building sanitized.

"We had a company … nuke the building a week ago after the cultures taken from Nicks and Tynes confirmed it was MRSA," Dominik told ESPN. "It was a precautionary move, but we didn't want to fool with it. Our owners said spare no expense."

The Bucs told players Monday.

"Our primary concern is always the health and safety of our players and staff," Dominik said in a team release. "Our players were informed of the situation, and we sought the advice of experts, including the NFL's medical adviser, who provided counsel and approved of our comprehensive measures, including the treatment of our practice facility."

The Bucs have not determined if the MRSA originated inside or outside One Buc Place.

"We are aware of the health and safety issue in Tampa Bay, and our medical director has been briefed," George Atallah, the player union's executive director for external affairs, tweeted. "We are also looking into ensuring that the team met its obligation to inform the players of the situation in Tampa Bay."

Nicks, 28, has been recovering from November's season-ending surgery on his left big toe. He has not played this preseason but practiced for three days in Foxborough, Mass., last week.

At the time, coach Greg Schiano said Nicks sat as a precaution but later disclosed the blister that became infected.

After receiving his original diagnosis, Tynes, 35, sought a second opinion, and doctors at the New York Hospital for Special Surgery confirmed the MRSA. Tynes had surgery Tuesday, the same day the Bucs signed former Bills kicker Rian Lindell.

Ken Harris, Tynes' agent, said he is upset over the kicker's condition being released.

"I can't understand why hospital staff would divulge a patient's diagnosis to reporters," he said.

Tynes, who was signed shortly after Connor Barth tore his right Achilles tendon in a charity basketball game, has not participated in training camp. Schiano said Nicks is out indefinitely, and they will have a better handle on his condition once the medication takes effect in five to seven days. Both players are said to be responding well.

Upon learning about the MRSA, Dominik met with team trainer Todd Toriscelli, contacted the players union and consulted with the Glazer family, which owns the team. It was decided as a precaution to have the facility sanitized.

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MRSA staph infections are not new to the NFL.

In 2003, five Rams players were affected by MRSA, which was recovered from whirlpools and athletic tape and detected on 35 nasal swabs of players and staff.

An NFL physicians survey determined there were 33 MRSA episodes around the league from 2006-08.

The Browns had six players stricken with a form of staph infection during that time, including former Bucs receiver Joe Jurevicius in his right knee.

In 2009, Jurevicius sued the team and Cleveland Clinic, saying the team misrepresented the cleanliness of its training facility and accusing doctors of negligence. He sought compensation of about $25,000 plus unspecified punitive damages. The sides settled before the case went to trial. The terms were kept confidential.

Browns center LeCharles Bentley developed the infection after surgery for a torn patellar tendon. He was hospitalized for five weeks and nearly had his leg amputated. At one point, his life was in danger.

Times staff writer Jodie Tillman contributed to this report.