Ex-Arkansas, Browns RB Peyton Hillis reportedly unconscious in ICU after swimming accident while 'saving his family'

Peyton Hillis retired from the NFL in 2015.  (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Peyton Hillis retired from the NFL in 2015. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Former Arkansas Razorbacks and Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis was hospitalized after a swimming accident in Pensacola, Florida on Thursday, according to Alyssa Orange of KNWA. Hillis was reportedly helicoptered from the scene and remains unconscious in the ICU.

On Friday, Arkansas football tweeted it's "encouraged to learn he's doing better after his heroic act saving his family," which the Browns quote tweeted themselves with support.

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Per a Facebook account identified by KNWA as the player's uncle, Hillis' doctors say his condition is improving but there are problems with his kidneys and lungs.

Other NFL figures, including Indianapolis Colts team owner Jim Irsay and ESPN analyst Ryan Clark, tweeted support for Hillis Friday morning.

Hillis gained fame in 2010 with a breakout season that saw him post 1,177 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, plus 477 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air. That success saw him win the vote for the cover athlete of "Madden NFL 12" after fans rallied around his unusual candidacy.

His NFL career began in 2008 as a seventh-round pick of the Denver Broncos after four seasons as a fullback at Arkansas, mostly working as a blocker and receiver. After a relatively anonymous two years in Denver, he was traded to Cleveland and became a surprise star.

Unfortunately, that success turned sour the following year due to injuries and Hillis struggled to catch on with other teams over the next few years. He eventually retired in 2015 at the recommendation of his doctors due to his concussion history.