On Sunday night, the New York Giants celebrated a thrilling 30-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
But one player wasn't there to join in the jubilation.
Tight end Daniel Fells was in an hospital intensive care unit, suffering from a MRSA infection so severe it may require the amputation of his foot. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph infection that is resistant to many antibiotics, and the pressing fear is that the infection may travel to his bone and infiltrate his bloodstream.
Fells' health problems arose when the 32-year-old suffered injuries to his toe and ankle and was given a cortisone shot for the pain. After a week of foot and ankle pain, his wife took him to the hospital on Oct. 2 with a 104 degree fever, according to NFL.com.
"This is a serious situation that has been taken seriously from the beginning. We're all fighting for Daniel," Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said, per NFL.com. Giants General Manager Jerry Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin have reportedly visited Fells in the hospital, and in his post game press conference Sunday night, Coughlin said the team "dedicated [the] game to Daniel Fells and his family."
Last week, it was widely reported that the Giants scrubbed their locker rooms and meeting areas "under the supervision of infectious disease specialists" in order to prevent the highly contagious infection from spreading.
MRSA is not a new affliction for athletes; for years both professional and college athletes have been contracting the infection, which thrives in warm, unsanitary environments like locker rooms. According to a 2007 ESPN report, "MRSA is mostly spread by direct physical contact, but can also be spread by teammates sharing razors, soap, or towels."
"Many athletes get the infection after surgery, including Grant Hill of the Magic and the Patriots' Junior Seau. When athletes get MRSA infections which don't involve surgery, these are called "community-acquired." These infections have struck at all athletic levels — from high schools to the pros — and in virtually every sport. But most reported cases have been in wrestling, and particularly football, because athletes often sustain open wounds and there's frequent skin-to-skin contact.
"'Football is a sport where people tend to get a lot of breaks in the skin from abrasions they sustain when they go down,' says Jeff Hageman, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'And we know that with staph and with MRSA, it requires breaks in the skin to actually cause disease.'
"Several prominent NBA players have also suffered staph infections, including Paul Pierce of the Celtics and the Cavaliers' Drew Gooden."
While Fells' condition remains serious, he was upbeat in an Instagram post before Sunday night's game, writing, "My heart is with my brothers tonight. Get that W G-men. I love every one of you #thiswillnotdefeatme."