Taylor Decker has dealt with a lot of vitriol from fans during his time in Detroit. Whether it was his Buckeyes upbringing or some frustration with Decker’s injury luck or suggestions that he should be traded, it’s always seemed like misplaced anger aimed at a player undeserving of it. Decker has been one of the steadiest players the Lions have had for the past seven years at one of the most important positions.
And if you’ve—even for a second—ever questioned his toughness, he told a story on the “Pardon My Take” podcast this week that should earn your permanent respect.
The year was 2020. Twelve days before the Detroit Lions’ season debut against the Chicago Bears, Decker signed a five-year, $60 million contract to make him one of the highest-paid tackles in the NFL. But on the Friday before the opener, Decker fell violently ill. Here’s what happened next, as Decker recalled:
“I woke up in the middle of the night sweating, shivering. My stomach hurt so bad, and I was like, ‘I don’t know what’s going on. Am I constipated? Did I have too much Jet’s pizza? So I just felt terrible, man, I was just sweating, going crazy shivering. I was just sitting in the shower.
“I was like, ‘I can’t tell anybody about this. I just signed a contract extension. I have to play.’”
Through the illness, Decker let his pride carry him during the season opener against the Bears. But when the pain didn’t go away by the following Wednesday, he finally had to talk to team doctors. What they revealed was serious.
“They’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. You have appendicitis. You’ve had it for a week. You should have told us this sooner,’” Decker recalled.
So, obviously, at that point, Decker got his appendix removed and had to miss some time, right?
Nope. Decker, still insistent on not being the guy who just signed a contract extension to sit on the sideline, battled it out. Instead of getting surgery, the doctors gave him antibiotics and he battled through it.
“I basically had appendicitis for the first month of the season,” Decker said. “The antibiotics made it go away.”
Decker, to this day, still has his appendix. And as for his play during that rough, physical stretch, he didn’t allow a single sack, and he finished the season with his current highest PFF grade to date (85.8).
That’s one tough son of a bitch.