Former NFL player found dead after complaining of stomach illness

Courtesy ABC News

A former NFL player has died after reportedly telling his mother that he had been suffering abdominal pains for a month.

Former Tennessee Titans player Todd Williams, 35, was found dead in a Bradenton, Fla., hotel room at about 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's office. Williams retired after the 2005 season.

Williams told a hotel worker three days before he died that he'd gone to the hospital because he was throwing up all night, according to the police report. Officers also noted in the report that Williams used "pain medication to combat injuries." The report indicates that authorities do not suspect foul play.

Police spokesman Dave Bristow told that an autopsy will determine the official cause of death.

Williams had been feeling sick for a number of weeks, and hadn't been able to taste anything, his mother, Ozepher Fluker, told the Bradenton Herald, a local newspaper. Williams was abandoned by his mother, raised by his grandmother and effectively orphaned when she died, according to a book about him by former Florida State University head coach Bobby Bowden.

Dr. Gregory Cooper, who has not met Williams but directs the gastroenterology program at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said abdominal pain could be the result of many things, most of them nonfatal.

"In somebody so young, the thing I'd be concerned about is an ulcer," Cooper said, adding that taking an anti-inflammatory drug could lead to complications like bleeding or potentially fatal inflammation of the abdominal lining called peritonitis.

"The other thing I'm always wary of in somebody who's an athlete is always potential substance abuse," Cooper said. Cocaine, for instance, can disrupt blood flow to the intestines, leading to a complication in which part of the bowel dies and becomes gangrenous.

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