August 16, 2006

The cause has yet to be determined, but doctors told Redskins backup offensive lineman hopeful Kili Lefotu that sleep apnea may have been behind a strange episode that caused him to end up in the hospital for two days. Lefotu took a nap in a training camp dormitory because he had a headache and woke up in the hospital with his fiance, Annie Jaramillo, and physicians at his side. According to a 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine of 300 professional football players from eight NFL teams, about 14% of all players have sleep apnea—nearly three times the estimated national average—and this percentage rises to 34% for offensive and defensive linemen.

Other studies have linked sleep apnea with obesity and body features such as short, thick necks—the perfect description of many football players. In addition, NFL Hall of Fame 2006 inductee Reggie White died early this year of medical problems related to his sleep apnea, so the disorder is definitely something football players, such as Lefotu, need to be concerned about.

"Up to this point, it’s the scariest thing that ever happened to me in my whole life," Lefotu told reporter Don Markus who is covering the Redskins training camp for  The Baltimore Sun.