The day arrived in May when Lawrence Tynes tried to kick a football again, the way he did for nine NFL seasons with the Chiefs and Giants, the way he did before a potential life-threatening infection left him with searing pain in his right foot.
"It brings you to your knees, the pain," Tynes said. "You've got to strike the ball with pretty good force. I knew pretty quickly that I wasn't going to be able to kick. Then I went out there a week later and said, 'Okay, let's try this again.' It just hasn't worked out. I'm reminded every morning when I step out of bed on my feet that I had MRSA. It hurts every morning. It hurts every day.
"You miss football every day. … You still think you can do it, but there's an issue with your foot that makes it impossible for you to play. It's hard when something is taken away from you through no fault of your own. ''
Tynes, 37, filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming former Bucs trainer Todd Toriscelli was the source of the MRSA infection that ended his NFL career in 2013 and is seeking $20 million in expected future earnings.
The lawsuit claims "unsanitary conditions" at the Bucs facility constituted negligence on the team's part, and that the team "failed to disclose and actively concealed ongoing incidents of infection" among others at the facility. Tynes was paid his full salary of $905,000 after the team placed him on the non-football injury list.
The Bucs declined comment because of the pending litigation. Tynes' attorney, Stephen Rosenthal, said the team has had a draft of the complaint for a month. Apparently, they have no interest in a settlement. "We just filed the suit," Rosenthal said. "You can connect the dots."
Tynes said his problems began shortly after July 30 with a simple procedure to have the nail on the big toe of his right kicking foot trimmed back the way he had every offseason.
After spending a few days trying to heal while receiving treatment at One Buc Place, Tynes noticed his toe was swollen, red and infected, oozing pus.
"The second or third day and I usually can kick in practice," he said. "Finally, like the third day, I said, 'Something is not right.' I was feverish, sick, so that's when I said I'm not healing like I had the previous 10 or 12 times I've done it and obviously that's when I sought out the trainers and said, 'What do you guys think here?'
"That's when we started the regimen of take this, take that, take this every two days and they were switching what they were giving me."
Tynes sought a second opinion, a culture was taken and it was determined he had MRSA, a severe staph infection resistant to most antibiotics.
Tynes said he learned that Toriscelli, now director of sports medicine for the Titans, had several knee surgeries, had MRSA and was the cause of his infection. Toriscelli "admitted to close friends" that his infection was the source of Tynes' MRSA, having used the same hot and cold tubs and other therapy devices and equipment, according to the lawsuit.
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Tynes said guard Carl Nicks, special-teams coach Dave Wannstadt, offensive linemen Davin Joseph and punter Michael Koenen were battling bacterial infections.
Nicks, who contracted MRSA during the 2013 preseason, played in only two regular-season games that year. In August 2014, the Bucs agreed to a $3 million settlement with Nicks, who said he had decided ''to step away from the game.''
"You know it's shocking," Tynes said of Nicks not going on injured reserve. "I was kind of discarded. … Let's be real, why has Carl never put on IR? If you've been around the NFL, you know you don't keep a guy on the roster that's not going to play and you know he's not going to play for 10 weeks."
Tynes said he has had a lot of tough days since his injury, fearing more for his life than the end of his career.
"Having two little boys and a wife, it's scary," he said. "You don't even think about football at the time. It's really, really scary and if it becomes septic in your system, you don't have a real good chance at survival. I don't think people realize this infection kills over 20,000 a year."
"I don't think people realize this infection kills over 20,000 a year."