Former Broncos nutrition guru says get vaccinated as he endures long hospital stay because of COVID-19

Helena V Berbie

Former Broncos fitness and nutrition guru Bill Phillips’ message for Coloradans is to the point: Get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“If it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody,” said Phillips, who worked as the performance nutrition and supplementation expert for the Denver Broncos in the late 1990s during their Super Bowl championships and is the author of Body-for-LIFE.

“It’s not a political issue,” he added. “It’s a public health issue.”

A little more than two weeks ago, the 56-year-old was in a medically induced coma and hooked up to a ventilator to help him to breathe because of the coronavirus. He spent 47 days intubated and lost 70 pounds during his time at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood.

Phillips said he chose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine because he had the virus before and thought the antibodies would be enough to protect him from reinfection.

“I did not get vaccinated because I made a mistake,” he said during an interview at the hospital. “I thought since I had COVID in January 2020, I was immune to it.”

He added, “That mistake came…close to costing my life.”

When Phillips was admitted to the hospital — which is operated by Centura Health — on June 25 he already had pneumonia. He was healthy and active before his second infection. Now, he’s had to relearn how to walk and other skills, said his wife, Maria Phillips.

Phillips expects to be discharged on Wednesday.

“It’s a misconception that you need to have pre-existing condition to get sick and die from COVID,” said Dr. Alex Benson, a critical care physician with St. Anthony’s Hospital, adding, “If you had (COVID) that doesn’t mean you are fully protected, and you should get vaccinated.”

Colorado is experiencing another wave in COVID-19 infections as the more transmissible delta variant spreads across the nation. The increase is not yet as bad as other states, but hospitalizations reached their third-highest point Monday since the crisis began with 734 patients. That’s up from 324 hospitalizations a month ago.

The state also reported 10,277 new cases last week, which is up 2,525 cases from the previous week, according to data from the state health department.

Former Broncos coach and fitness guru ...

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Former Broncos coach and fitness guru Bill Phillips shared personal photos from his battle with COVID-19 that hospitalized him for more than 40 days.

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