PENSACOLA, Fla. — Former Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis is reportedly in the intensive care unit at a Pensacola, Florida hospital after a swimming accident earlier this week.
The 36-year-old Hillis, who was on the cover of EA Sports' Madden NFL 12 video game, was reportedly injured while rescuing his children from drowning. According to Escambia County Public Safety PIO Davis Wood, first responders responded to a call for a rescue in the waters off of Pensacola Beach at noon on Wednesday.
Hillis was rescued by two lifeguards and one firefighter equipped with a jet ski after providing assistance to four swimmers that "were in distress." All four people were back on shore when first responders arrived. Hillis was taken by helicopter to an area hospital, while another adult was transported via Escambia EMS.
KNWA reporter Alyssa Orange tweeted that Hillis was unconscious and in the ICU on Thursday after being taken from the area by helicopter.
Greg Hillis, Peyton Hillis' uncle, posted the following on Facebook: "I just wanted to let everyone know on Razorback Nation that Peyton is doing better. 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. I’m sure he would want everyone to know that he appreciates all of the prayers being thrown up on his behalf!!"
On Friday morning, the Cleveland Browns shared the following tweet from Arkansas Razorback Football
Hillis joined the Browns in 2010 after being dealt by the Denver Broncos. In his first season in Cleveland, Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and added 477 receiving yards, scoring 13 total touchdowns. After his monster season, Hillis defeated stars like Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, and Matt Ryan in the vote for the prestigious cover of the Madden video game. The following year, Hillis' production plummeted, totaling 717 rushing and receiving yards with just three touchdowns. Hillis left in free agency following the 2011 campaign.
The 7th-round draft pick from Arkansas played in 81 NFL games during his eight-year career that also featured stops in Kansas City and in New York with the Giants.
Hillis spoke with 3News' Jim Donovan in a 2020 interview. You can watch it below: