Death of a Mississippi St. Football Player - Remembering Nick Bell

By: John Taylor on November 2, 2010 on nbcsports.com
By: John Taylor on November 2, 2010 on nbcsports.com

(First, a little background: Mississippi St. Defensive End Nick Bell started the 2010 football season in seemingly good shape. After two games Bell complained of a bad headache and numbness in his arms. Medical tests revealed a brain tumor. Treatment started quickly and things seem to be going as expected, when suddenly Bell was rushed to the hospital the last weekend of October suffering from bleeding in the brain, and other signs of cancer were found. Bell died within 24 hours...this foreword posted by Oscar Fann).

Head coach Dan Mullen addressed the media shortly after Bell’s passing, and here are the quotes released by the school:

Opening comments…

“Obviously this a difficult time for our football team and Nick Bell’s family. If you ever got to know Nick or spend any time with him, he was the kind of guy that never had a bad day and just loved to play football. Nick was a great kid. He loved Mississippi State, he loved his teammates and he loved to play football. He comes from a great family and getting to know them better it is obvious how Nick was such a great kid and he had a great impact on his life from his family. Our prayers and thoughts reach out to Nick’s family right now because I cannot imagine what they are going through. As far as this football team, our number one goal is to learn how to cope. We have a lot of young men who are dealing with a grief like this for the first time in their life. Our coaching staff is trying to be there for these players. In this football family Nick was a son to us coaches and a brother to each and every one of those players. I know he is looking down on us right now. I believe he has already been picked by a team up in Heaven so he can play the game that he loved. We went out today and practiced because that is a sanctuary for the coaches and these players. Being able to be there together doing what we love most and doing what Nick loved most was good for us and allowed us to sweat out some emotions and feelings that were dwelling inside. I know he will be with us in spirit and will always be looking down on us and have his arms around this football team. He has left his mark on a lot of people in this world and in a short time had done a lot of amazing things.”

On the emotions of practice…

“Once we got out there it became very therapeutic for everyone. It was tough to initially get out there but I told the guys there is no right or wrong way to act right now. I think keeping the guys in a routine and letting them do the thing they love to do is best for them as each and everyone one of those players is on an emotional roller coaster right now. For them to be out there and doing what they love for two hours was therapeutic.”

On the last time Mullen spoke with Nick Bell…

“Sunday evening, Megan and I had to speak in Birmingham and they (the doctors) were looking to have him start chemotherapy this week so we were planning on going to have a late lunch after I spoke so we could have some time to spend together before he began treatments. Nick’s mom called Megan on our way to Birmingham and gave us the news that they were rushing him to the hospital.”

On dealing with the death of a player…

“I have dealt with this before, with a quarterback of mine at the University of Florida was killed in a motorcycle accident during our bye week. It was a very tough thing to deal with and it was very hard for our players. I try to put a lot of perspective to the way it was when I was in college and all the emotions I had as an 18-to-22-year old and it would be very tough, but this process is not easy for anybody. We (the coaches) need to be there for our players and Nick’s family. It is hard to comprehend something like this for these young players who we build up as big, strong, tough men and try to make them feel invincible. Then they see this situation and it’s just a tidal wave of emotion that runs over them.”

On Nick Bell’s attendance at the UAB game…

“I remember being thrilled he was on the sidelines with us. He was able to go to the hotel and have the pre-game meal with us and ride to the stadium on the bus with us. It was great to have him back on the sidelines. We wanted to give him a lot to fight for so he could be back on those sidelines in full pads one day and not just in his jersey. He was just a great man.”

On the team’s visit to see Nick Bell on Monday night…

“Megan and I stopped to visit Nick and his family earlier on Monday and following that visit we did not want to wait for the players to have a chance to come see him because we were originally going to go this morning. I just did not feel that was fair based on Nick’s situation and how he was doing and he needed his family and his teammates now more than ever. So we had a team meeting and let everyone know what was going on and at the last second got a bus and loaded up a bunch of guys. It was great for a lot of our players to get to go and see Nick and say their goodbyes. They were able to pray and love Nick and his family in person.”

On Nick Bell’s illness…

“I am not going to go into great detail in respect of the family and Nick because I am not a doctor and lack some of the specific details. We knew on Friday that Nick was going to have to go through chemotherapy. Then we found out there were more tumors in his body and some bleeding in his brain and the doctors did what they could to relieve the pressure in his brain. That is much as we really knew.”

On what Mississippi State intends to do to honor Nick Bell…

“We are going to have a discussion with Nick’s family, probably tomorrow. We will come up with several ways that we can provide help to his family and also honor Nick in any way we possibly can.”

On Nick Bell’s character…

“He was an amazing kid. Coach (Matt) Balis and I were talking earlier and he (Balis) said he never came in having a bad day or upset. He always had a smile on his face and was ready to go to work and improve as a football player. If you ever saw his smile, it had the ability to light up a room and he had a great personality to go along with that. He was just a great person to be around. He always lifted up his teammates spirits and just loved to play the game. It is hard to find someone that has such a positive outlook in everything that they are doing and he had that. He accomplished a lot for a 20-year old and had a major impact on many people’s lives and that’s pretty remarkable.”

On Nick Bell’s demeanor since his diagnosis…

“Obviously at first he was a frightened young man as anyone would be. Then his positive outlook took over and he developed an attitude that he would conquer this and overcome what was going on. That is just who Nick was. We tried to keep him around the team as much as possible even though he had a lot going on. He got to spend a lot of time with his teammates and his family in the last couple weeks of his life and I think that was good for him. I know he will continue to look down and keep an eye on all of us.”


WTVY-TV 285 N Foster Street Dothan, AL 36303 334-792-3195
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 106868553 - wtvy.com/a?a=106868553