As you all should know by now, I am a huge football fan. A huge Eagles fan that is. However, my brother and father both grew up fans of the other team in the state I’m from, the Pittsburgh Steelers. So when the opportunity came about to interview Kendall Simmons, a Super Bowl Champion, I was ecstatic. Well, let’s just get into the interview.
Please introduce yourself and where you are from.
My name is Kendall Simmons (@bigk73) and I’m from Ripley, Ms
When were you diagnosed with diabetes?
Summer of 2003
Could you please give a few details about the diagnosis (how long did you have symptoms, did you or family know the symptoms, anybody else in family with diabetes, etc)
Over a two and half week period, I developed all the symptoms related to diabetes. I was diagnosed with L.A.D.A. or Type 1.5. Once I retired, I finally crossed the Type 1 threshold. I did know what the symptoms were to recognize what was going on. Also during that period, I lost a little more than 43 lbs. My grandmother had Type 2. She lived to be 89 years old. She passed away when I was 9 years old.
Were you currently playing in the NFL when you were diagnosed or was it just after college?
I was going into my second season.
Was it difficult for you to manage the diagnosis and a new routine of checking sugar, taking insulin, eating right, etc. while still getting accustomed to NFL life?
The first season that I tried to play with diabetes was the toughest for me. Once my body adjusted to the initial onset of diabetes everything started to get better. My Endocrinologist Dr. Rao , the Steelers ownership and staff made things easier for me. The eating right part is still hard for me. I have sweet tooth. Those 100 calorie snack packs are my best friends.
During your NFL career, you had some tough injuries. How did you manage to recover from injuries and manage your diabetes at the same time?
After 8 years in the NFL and fourteen surgeries, diabetes was the easy part. After all those surgeries, I always had to worry about the risk of infection, healing slower than everyone else and at least a month of high blood glucose levels.
Could you quickly take us through an average routine on game day with diabetes?
I’d arrive 3 hrs before the game starts to get into my routine. I would stretch and hot tub before everyone gets to the stadium. I would check my BG 6/8 time from when i arrived at the stadium, until the end of the game. I would take 6/8 small shots between that time as well.
Did you test in between drives, quarters, halftime, etc?
Between drives I would test and take shots while Russ or Zerliner would make adjustments. So, while they were making adjustments. I would make my adjustments. The fanny paks the trainers wore had my BG supplies in them.
Did you ever have to receive a glucagon shot during a practice or game?
No, experience with the glucagon!
Among the NFL community, are there a lot of players or families with type 1 diabetes and is there a lot of support between them?
I’m not really sure about the families dealing with Type 1. I know there are families dealing with Type 2
Since leaving the NFL, sort of a “second life”, what are some of your goals and aspirations?
I want to continue following Gods plan for my family and I. I didn’t do a good job of listening to him while I was playing . Working with Novo Nordisk has been a major blessing. All I want to do is continue to help people and improve my family everyday.
Could you tell us a little more about Swing for Diabetes?
My wife and I partnered with a friend of ours Diane Ramage former LPGA player. She’s been living with Type 1 since she a kid. Swing 4 Diabetes supports the people of East Alabama. All the proceeds go to the EAMC Diabetes and Nutrition Center. This is year 5 for our event. We normally schedule it for May or June.
Are there any other diabetes initiatives or campaigns that you have partnered up on or working on?
I’ve worked with JDRF during Children’s Congress in DC, ADA walks, Children With Diabetes in Orlando and others. Right now, I’m helping Novo Nordisk promote a new contest called the Novolog Community Star. It a contest to spotlight people giving back to their local communities while living successfully with Type 2 diabetes and on Novolog insulin. We want people to go online to novolog.com and submit their stories. There will be 10 finalist chosen from the entries. The finalist will win a year subscription to Weight Watchers online and a $5,000 donation made by Novo Nordisk on their behalf to a diabetes charity of their choice.
Any other information that you would like to share with the readers?
Find a support group and there is no better way than social media. Take advantage of all the free information out there for you. If you’re physically able to take care of yourself, then do it please! Do not place that responsibility on someone else.
Always remember that there’s someone else out there that would love to have the support, information and supplies you refuse to use.
That’s it folks. If you have any additional questions for Kendall, please leave a comment below.