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Mike Sherels realizes he almost died.

That can be one of those overused cliches that overstates the serious of a situation, but that’s not the case when it comes to Sherels. The former Minnesota Golden Gophers captain and current linebacker’s coach was in intensive care and clinging to life as a result of a serious intestinal issue. He was so heavily sedated, he doesn’t remember a five-day stretch during which he underwent four operations.

“I certainly have a new appreciation for being alive,” Sherels told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in a wide-ranging interview — his first that details the extent of his illness and the challenges ahead as he attempts to rebuild his life.

Sherels can’t eat — he has a formula pumped through a line in his arm — and he’s not supposed to drink, though he sneaks a little water and Gatorade on occasion. He has an ostomy bag, and has lost 50 pounds.

The problems started, according to the newspaper interview, when Sherels noticed blood in his stool. From there, he encountered a number of problems that resulted in bleeding in his abdomen. Doctors eventually had to remove his small intestines, parts of his colon and more. Doctors doubted whether he could survive.

The entire Star-Tribune piece is worth a read because it goes into great detail on is illness, his efforts to overcome it, and the emotional toll it’s taken on him and his family. But one thing remains constant — his passion for football, as evident in this video:

He was a walk-on at Minnesota, and the only walk-on to date to win a captain’s role. Even though he’s on paid leave, he’s slowly building up stamina and going to the team’s practice facility.

The program could use his inspiration at a time the team is reeling a bit. Players threatened to boycott the Holiday Bowl because they were upset 10 of their team mates were suspended as the result of a sexual assault allegation, And, there still may be some simmering issues.

Football is one thing, but life is another. Here’s hoping Sherels makes the best recovery he can.

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