Peyton Hillis: 5 Things To Know About Former NFL Star In ICU After Saving His Kids From Drowning

Peyton Hillis: 5 Things To Know About Former NFL Star In ICU After Saving His Kids From Drowning

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Image Credit: Chris O’Meara/AP/Shutterstock
  • Peyton Hillis is a former NFL running back who played for several teams.
  • He won a vote to be on the cover of the Madden NFL ’12 football game.
  • In 2023, he was hospitalized after saving his kids from a drowning accident.

Peyton Hillis, the former NFL running back who played for the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, and Kansas City Chiefs (among other teams), is “doing better” after being admitted to the ICU following a swimming accident where he saved his two children from drowning. “I just wanted to let everyone know on Razorback Nation that Peyton is doing better,” Hillis’s uncle, Greg Hillis, wrote on Jan. 5. “He’s still in intensive care and having some problems with his kidneys and his lungs, but the doctors say he is improving. I just wanted to head off any rumors that may be started.”

The details surrounding Peyton’s injury and the accident are scant at this time. Reporter Alyssa Orange added that she “confirmed [Peyton, 36] was in a swimming accident in Pensacola, FL, and helicoptered to the hospital. He remains unconscious in the ICU.” As Peyton’s family and friends “pray for him and a speedy recovery,” here’s what we know.

Peyton Is A Former NFL Running Back

Peyton Hillis joined the NFL in 2008 when the Denver Broncos selected him as the 227th overall pick in the NFL Draft. In his first season, he played twelve games before suffering a tear in his right hamstring, forcing him to sit out the rest of the season. Hillis didn’t see much playtime in his second season with the Broncos, and he was eventually traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Peyton Hillis: 5 Things To Know About Former NFL Star in ICU After Saving His Kids from Drowning
Peyton with the Bucs (Chris O’Meara/AP/Shutterstock)

In his first season with the Browns, he experienced a professional career-high of 1,177 rushing yards. However, the 2011-12 season saw him lag and stutter, resulting in a total of 587 rushing yards. He also re-injured his hamstring, limiting his capability. His relationship with the Browns deteriorated, and the team allowed him to join the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012 as a free agent. From there, things didn’t get much better, with Hillis playing as a backup.

He signed with the Tampa Bay Bucks in the summer of 2013, but the team released him before the season began. The New York Giants scooped him up, and he played nine games for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew. In 2015, he announced his retirement. ”

“I didn’t care as much anymore, I didn’t care to work at it. Football brought me down,” he said to Bleacher Report in 2015. “I still love the game and I still have a lot of friends in the game, but as far as NFL football goes, my heart’s just not in it anymore.”

He Was On The Cover Of A Madden Game

Due to Peyton’s breakout season with the Browns, there was a massive fan vote for him to be on the cover of Madden NFL ’12. The final ballot put Peyton against Michael Vick (after Peyton upset Matt Ryan, Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, and Ray Rice.) Peyton won and was immortalized on the cover of the video game.

He Doesn’t Think He Was Cursed

With Madden immortality comes pain. There is a long-standing suspicion that athletes selected for the Madden games suddenly see a drop in play, a “Madden Curse.” Hillis said the idea of the curse crossed his mind, but he told Bleacher Report that he wouldn’t put too much into it. “I went through a couple of years there just mad at the world,” he said. “I put my faith in the world, and the world let me down. And I should have known that. The world’s always going to let you down. Put your faith in God.”

He Was Married

“The heartache that I went through on and off the field at that time made me realize what was truly important, and it wasn’t football. Obviously football is done, and what do I have now? I have my family,” Peyton told Bleacher Report. “It’s just one of those things you look back on and you’re bitter because you know you could have done more if you just had the opportunity, but a lot of things are out of your hands, so you try to look at it [as a] positive.”

Peyton shares his two children – a son and a daughter – with his ex-wife, Amanda. Details about the relationship remain private. As of 2023, he is reportedly dating actress Angela Cole.

Peyton Hillis: 5 Things To Know About Former NFL Star in ICU After Saving His Kids from Drowning
Peyton with the Giants (Seth Wenig/AP/Shutterstock)

He Is An Actor

Being an Arkansas native, Peyton proudly joined the University of Arkansas to become a Razorback. However, in 2021, he became a different kind of beast. With his football years behind him, Peyton took a stab at acting in the independent horror/werewolf film, The Hunting.