NFL training camps have opened, and one coach probably is much happier than others to be going through two-a-days.
Less than two months ago, during an offseason practice at the Arizona Cardinals' facility, quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens felt two "pops" in his chest.
Then his vision turned blurry and a leg felt numb.
They were the early symptoms of an often-fatal illness called aortic dissection, and had the attack occurred at any other time, Kitchens may well not have lived.
"I was very fortunate in a lot of different ways," he said.
Now the 38-year-old former Alabama quarterback is back at work at training camp, feeling a little tired but otherwise healthy.
"It's a miracle," head coach Bruce Arians said. "It really is, that he's here and doing so well."
Kitchens is in his sixth season with the Cardinals and was kept on staff by new coach Bruce Arians, who made Kitchens the team's quarterbacks coach. And it was those quarterbacks who noticed something wrong with Kitchens on June 4.
Initially, it was thought Kitchens was dehydrated. But it became clear to Reed that it might be something more, and he telephoned team doctor Wayne Kuhl.
Kuhl said Kitchens needed to get to a hospital, and he was driven to the closest one, Chandler Regional Medical Center. There, after numerous tests, doctors figured out what was wrong. The wall of the aorta had torn. It's a condition that can kill, and the longer the wait, the more likely that would be the outcome.
With the streets clogged by rush-hour traffic, the decision was made to transfer Kitchens by helicopter to the Arizona Heart Hospital in Phoenix. In perhaps the most fortuitous of all the developments that day, the surgeon on duty at the heart hospital was Andrew Goldstein, one of the foremost authorities in the country on aortic dissection and how to fix it.
"This is kind of a special kind of deal and only special people can do it," Kitchens said. "It's kind of like playing quarterback in the NFL, only special people can do it."
After a 13-minute helicopter ride, Kitchens underwent surgery for nearly nine hours. He had been told along the way how serious his condition was.
-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor