Ty Montgomery dealing with sickle-cell trait

Ryan Wood
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GREEN BAY - Ty Montgomery knew he was born with a sickle-cell trait, but said until this past week he never had experienced symptoms.

Montgomery missed the Green Bay Packers' 33-32 loss Sunday at the Atlanta Falcons. He was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report because of an undisclosed illness.

Citing personal reasons, Montgomery said Sunday he didn’t want to discuss his illness publicly. He opened up about more about his condition Monday, confirming the belief that it is connected to his sickle-cell trait.

“To be honest,” Montgomery said, “it wasn’t really scary. I don’t know. It’s the life I live, the game we play. Sometimes, things happen.”

Earlier Monday, Montgomery told reporters his flare-up had no connection to football.

“There wasn’t a hit that I took,” Montgomery said. “We think it’s related to sickle-cell trait. There’s not really anything I can do about it except move on from it.”

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In a statement released Monday night to ESPN, agent Damarius Bilbo left open the possibility Montgomery's sickle-cell trait was connected to football.

Bilbo said Montgomery spotted blood in his urine after the Packers game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 20. Doctors informed him the blood might indicate the sickle-cell trait impacted his kidneys, according to the statement.

While visiting family in Dallas, Texas, Bilbo said Montgomery was observed in a hospital one day after the Packers' game against the Bears.

"Ty spent 16 hours under observation between late Friday night and Saturday," Bilbo said in his statement. "Although not proven, there could be a link between his physical activity in the contest against the Bears, the impact on his kidney, and his disorder. The decision to rest him in the game against the Atlanta Falcons was a precautionary measure."

Montgomery isn’t the first NFL player to play through sickle-cell trait.

Earlier this month, a blood test revealed Arizona Cardinals receiver John Brown also has sickle-cell trait. Brown missed a game against the New York Jets, in part because sickle-cell trait made his hamstrings sore.

Sickle-cell trait occurs when a person inherits one sickle-cell gene and one normal gene, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sickle-cell trait rarely produces any symptoms associated with sickle-cell disease, but the trait can be passed on to offspring. A sickle cell is a misshapen red blood cell.

Complications rarely occur with professional athletes. A person with sickle-cell trait can experience more muscle breakdown, according to the CDC. Some are unable to play in high altitude, such as in Denver. Montgomery was injured when the Packers traveled to face the Broncos last fall.

Montgomery said sickle-cell trait poses no risk to his football career. If he'd had his way, the Packers receiver would have played Sunday. He was determined to be activated against the Falcons, even fitting in a quick on-field workout at the Georgia Dome before kickoff.

Montgomery said he lobbied with the team’s medical staff to let him play. Ultimately, he was forced to stay on the sideline and watch.

“I tried,” Montgomery said. “Did everything I could, but working with the doctors and the trainers, we called around and did some research to try to figure out what was going on. That was the decision that was made.”

Montgomery wouldn’t say whether he’s been cleared to practice this week, but he made it clear he wants to play Sunday when the Packers host the Indianapolis Colts at Lambeau Field.

Once he returns, he shouldn’t face any restrictions. Montgomery said hydrating and nutrition will be important to keeping his illness under control.

”We’re just going to take it day by day,” Montgomery said. “So far, all signs lead to we feel confident to just take it day by day and play this week. So, we’ll see.” and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood

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