Ex-Gator: Urban Meyer “really had a heart attack”

Ali Peek of GatorBait.net has a fascinating interview with extremely candid former (2008-10) Florida Gator running back Emmanuel Moody. If you were wondering about why the Gators struggled last season, Moody provides some unvarnished, inside analysis of what happened.

(Moody was on the team when Meyer broke down physically)

Also notable was Moody’s repeated description of the health problems former head coach Urban Meyer endured in the past two years. Here’s an excerpt from Peek’s interview with Moody on the subject:

GatorBait.net: What was your initial reaction when Meyer stepped down in December 2009?

Moody: “I didn’t know what to think of it. Personally, for me, I was more worried about his health than anything else, because I saw him the night before and he looked like he was about to have a heart attack, which he did have a heart attack later that night [Meyer actually suffered an Esophageal spasm].

“So, I knew it was really the real thing. He really had a heart attack and I saw it coming after the game. But, whatever was going to happen, may God have his way. Coach Meyer’s health was way too important to think about football.”

GatorBait.net: The night that you said he looked like he had a heart attack and then eventually did have one, was that the first sign that something was wrong with him health-wise, or did earlier in the season did you know?

Moody: “No. That was the first sign.”

GatorBait.net: Was that the night of the SEC Championship game?

Moody: “SEC Championship game. He looked really bad. He had a heart attack later that night. That was no surprise. I just started praying for him. I knew it was the real deal. He looked really sick. He didn’t even recognize who I was after the game because he could barely open his eyes.”

GatorBait.net: When he decided to come back, were you nervous for him? Obviously your health doesn’t change in two days, so he clearly wasn’t 100 percent.

Moody: “I talked to him when he was on his break for six months or so, after he decided to come back. He took some vacations and relaxed a little bit. I talked to him during that time and he just seemed relaxed and that he was recovering and I just told him he needed to allow some of the coaches to take some of his duties, because he tries to take everything, the whole team, on his shoulders, and that’s just too much for one man. But, I felt like he made the right decision because he sounded a lot better and it was the old Meyer that I was used to seeing.”

Whatever Meyer suffered from, we’re learning more and more every day how serious it actually was. The coach hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about the exact details of his health the past two years, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Moody’s characterization of the situation was entirely accurate.

Meyer was caught in a quandary when he left the Florida program. Despite Meyer’s reluctance to admit it, his health was clearly the only reason he stepped down as Gator coach.

But because he wants to someday return to his chosen profession, Meyer downplayed that aspect to the media as a contributing factor to his departure.

That in turn led to criticism in many quarters, including here, as Meyer’s insistent claims that family was also a factor often rang hollow.

Meyer’s steely personality, even on camera during his TV work, tells me he’s got a lot of coaching left in him and that he will be back on the sideline sooner than most people think.

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