IU freshman Brady Feeney tested positive for COVID, still dealing with symptoms, according to mother

An update from Indy Star’s Zach Osterman, who spoke with Brady Feeney’s mother:

Deborah Rucker didn’t know when she wrote a Facebook post Sunday about her son’s ordeal with COVID-19 that it would capture so much attention on social media. 

Rucker’s son, IU freshman offensive lineman Brady Feeney, tested positive for the virus during screening conducted by the program last month. He was isolated from his teammates and experienced breathing problems serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room. Indiana even paid for Rucker to come to Bloomington to be near Feeney — she could not physically be with him, per isolation protocols — while he recovered.

“After 14 days of hell battling the horrible virus, his school did additional testing on all those that were positive,” Rucker wrote. “My son even received extra tests because he was one of the worst cases. Now we are dealing with possible heart issues! He is still experiencing additional symptoms and his blood work is indicating additional problems.

“Bottom line, even if your son’s schools do everything right to protect them, they CAN’T PROTECT THEM!!”

Rucker didn’t mean to alarm anyone over her son’s condition. What she wanted was for those unconcerned or casual about the dangers posed by COVID-19 to understand how quickly and closely it can hit home.

“The whole point of my Facebook post is because in Missouri, where we live, the state is not taking this as seriously as they should,” Rucker said Monday. “With everything Brady is going through and has been struggling through, it has been infuriating to me that people are not taking this seriously and not wearing masks.”

A true freshman who signed with IU out of Christian Brothers College in St. Louis, Feeney moved to Bloomington after summer workouts were green-lighted as part of the athletic department’s restart plan. 

Rucker said Feeney was tested immediately, per Indiana’s restart protocol, and given a complete physical. The program gave each player their own single room, and kept players in specific pods during workouts to limit person-to-person exposure as much as possible. 

Every step of the way, IU communicated in detail with players’ families. A family friend, Rucker said, serves as a physician for the St. Louis Cardinals, and everything he suggested they ask, Indiana covered. 

“Everything they’re doing, is exactly what should be done,” Rucker said the family friend told her.

Nevertheless, Feeney was one of a handful of players to test positive in July. That, in turn, prompted a team-wide round of tests, which eventually led to a two-week suspension of football activities. 

IU only announced the resumption of its offseason at the end of last week. 

After testing positive, Rucker said Feeney was isolated with two other positive teammates. About a week in, Feeney began having breathing problems, at which point he visited the emergency room and received medication to help alleviate his symptoms. 

“The last thing I want is for anyone to think the Indiana University football program has done anything wrong,” she said. “They have been phenomenal through all of this.”

Once he was allowed to return to the team, Feeney was given a second physical. That’s where the heart complication mentioned in Rucker’s Facebook post first came up. 

Rucker said that, because he dealt with more severe symptoms than his teammates, Indiana gave Feeney a thorough screening — including an echocardiogram, an EKG and bloodwork — before he could return to activity.

That bloodwork raised concerns. Feeney will see a cardiologist this week for further evaluation. 

In the meantime, he’s back with his teammates, just not cleared for workouts yet. And his mother remained firm in her message, that collective safety should be a priority, for everyone.

“It’s a serious situation, and it may not affect everyone the same,” Rucker said. “It’s so simple to wear a mask. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the humane thing to do. Why not wear a mask, to protect yourself and to protect everyone around you?”

Previously:

The mother of Indiana freshman Brady Feeney posted a cautionary message to social media Sunday, saying her son has tested positive for COVID-19 and is suffering from lingering issues.

Debbie Rucker wrote on Facebook that Feeney, a 6-foot-4, 325-pound offensive lineman from St. Louis, Mo., was at one point in the emergency room with breathing issues. She said her son granted her permission to write about his struggle.

“After 14 days of hell battling the horrible virus, his school did additional testing on all those that were positive,” Rucker wrote. “My son even recieved (sic) extra tests because he was one of the worst cases. Now we are dealing with possible heart issues! He is still experiencing additional symptoms and his blood work is indicating additional problems.

“Bottom line, even if your son’s schools do everything right to protect them, they CAN’T PROTECT THEM!!”

IU football shut down voluntary workouts on July 17 after six of its team members tested positive that week. Workouts resumed last Friday. That same Friday, IU reported it has administered 480 tests on athletes, coaches, and staff since they returned for voluntary workouts in mid-June.

Of those 480 tests, 33 have come back positive for COVID-19.

Rucker said her son tested negative for COVID-19 when he arrived to voluntary workouts in Bloomington. She commended IU for its response, including the halting of workouts in mid-July, but the virus “hit my son very hard compared to most of his teammates.”

As of Monday evening, Rucker’s post on Facebook had been shared 205 times. It was posted to Twitter by Dallas Morning News reporter Sam Blum on Monday afternoon.

“I pray my son recovers from this horrible virus and can lead a healthy normal life!! Football does not really matter when your child’s health is in jeopardy!!” Rucker wrote. “Think about it!!! My heart is hurting and I pray for all of these kids and for the people making the decisions about the season!!!”

“Please protect all of those around you and please wear a mask!!! Thank you for listening!!”

Preseason football camps were originally slated to begin this week, but the Big Ten has yet to give the go ahead. In fact, commissioner Kevin Warren and Dr. Chris Kratochvil sent a letter to the conference’s athletic directors last Thursday saying they “will not, and cannot, proceed with preseason camp until we are certain that we can do so safely and that will depend, in part, on testing.”

Northwestern just paused its football workouts Monday after a player tested positive for COVID-19. At different points this offseason, Ohio State, Maryland, Rutgers, and Michigan State have all had to pause football workouts.

21 comments

  1. Wow…Some reality in a climate so many are in total denial. I wish the young man the very best. Kudos to his mother for speaking up.

    1. Nice post Harvard! We all wish him, and any others, a complete and full recovery! A very brave Mom!

  2. This story and what is presently happening in MLB (cancel of baseball games due to COVID 19) is why i suggest that the summer and fall sports season in the year 2020 be cancel. Nobody will take this pandemic serious until it reaches home (the death of a love one). Yes, we can all holler and advise that is no more then a flu…but how many Americans run to their local pharmacy in the fall for a flu shot…sports is in the ideal situation to wait this pandemic out.

  3. I hope all works out well for Feeney as it is a shame the virus has impacted him so much. I hope the concerns of heart damage prove to be wrong. Feeney has a lot of ability both as a student and a football player if he doesn’t have life long damage due to Covid-19.

  4. IU79, I believe hundreds of millions of Americans are taking the coronavirus pandemic very seriously. No one wants to get infected with this virus. No one (in their right mind) wants to pass the virus on to someone else and put them at risk of illness or death. But for those who equate “taking the pandemic seriously” to shutting down society and major portions of the economy, I have a few sincere questions:
    1. How long do those in power shut down segments of our society and economy? Six months? One year? Or do they keep us shut down until the world has a created a reliable treatment and/or vaccine for COVID-19? And when will that vaccine be available to the 340 million people living in the U.S.?
    2. What damage will be done by keeping major segments of our society and economy shut down relative to the damage done by opening back up with all reasonable precautions?
    3. It’s relatively easy for healthcare authorities to count the number of people infected an d the deaths caused by COVID-19, but is anyone tabulating the number of deaths and the people suffering as a result of social isolation and economic shut down? Drug and alcohol-related deaths, suicides, deaths caused from an inability to access normal (elective/preventative) healthcare?
    4. In our form of democracy, who has the authority to decide what portions of society and the economy get shut down? In many states, massive protests are allowed, but attending church services is prohibited. In Michigan, you could go to a store to buy liquor or pot, but you couldn’t drive to your lake cottage or be on a boat on the lake by yourself. Tell me how that made sense.
    5. What are the long-term consequences to our society of giving elected officials the power to limit or suspend our constitutional rights in the name of public safety or public health?
    6. If young Mr. Feeney came down with a bad case of the flu or viral pneumonia a year ago, would his illness made the news? Would his mother have expressed the same level of concern about her son’s condition or the long term consequences? Many public health officials believe and have testified that the flu kills far more young people every year than COVID-19 ever will! Why aren’t we more concerned about the flu?

    I don’t have the answers, but I think it’s important that we continue asking the questions.

  5. This is nothing other than greed placed before the welfare of young men and women (and their families) whom college sports has long given zero concern for well-being. It’s almost akin to indentured servitude and a brainwashing to negate anything of decency and concern for health/future if it interferes with the sole profit motive of those owning the ‘plantation’ of college and pro sports. It’s your price of passage…Take it or leave it, chump.

    1. As usual, this is an uninformed viewpoint borne of tired and inaccurate stereotypes. It would be difficult for you to be more off base, though I’m sure we’ll receive multiple posts (with multiple, meandering paragraphs) attempting to defend what you’ve said, divert the discussion to other matters, and CREAN!

  6. H4H:
    To steal part of your quote:
    “college sports has long given zero concern for well-being. It’s almost akin to indentured servitude and a brainwashing to negate anything of decency and concern for health/future if it interferes with the sole profit motive”
    I have to say that is true in a lot of cases, but I think a lot of that has to do with the individual Coach. Personally, Coach Knight drove me crazy. But I never for a minute doubted that his players cared a great deal about him, and that he cared a great deal about them as people. Witness his return to Assembly Hall. Not saying there isn’t often a great deal of truth in what you’ve said, I just think it may be a little broad in its scope.
    As to Covid? I have no earthly idea what should be done by colleges or sports in general. It’s sad, but some really need sports in their lives. There are no easy answers in my mind, and a kid like Brady Feeney makes it even harder for me to figure out where we are headed or even where we should head.
    Tough days ahead, to say the least.

    1. NatHillV- Fair statements. And thanks for being reasonable in your response. Appreciated in this current ‘Lord of the Flies’ environment on Scoop.
      I love sports…I spent a huge percentage of my life (especially younger years) playing all sports and passionately following just about every sport. But I feel we’ve crossed some lines and we risk it holding much respect as we distance it and allow it to remain tone deaf to its surroundings. It’s always lived in a fantasy “bubble” of sorts….But when it goes forward with the pretense of not requiring the participation of fans in arenas and stadiums, it’s gone from fantasy to delusion. A pro athlete can carry the delusion to be more important than the most innocent/enthralled youngster at a game…But when we push forward in amateur athletics even in the absence of fans during a pandemic with no sign of being under control? This isn’t about 400 million dollar contracts and athletes so self-engrossed in delusions of grandeur to have lost every ounce of humility to foster such ideas as not needing fans to continue.
      This push to go forward is something uglier happening in college athletics. Freeney’s mother attempted to speak from her heart and nudge that door open….The response is exactly as I expected and it’s being slammed in her face.

      I’ll close where I opened…..wishing her son a full recovery and thanking her for speaking out.

      I

  7. This is a sorrowful situation and others that may be similar or different. It does have me thinking are the bigger heavier players more at risk for what this player is experiencing than other skill type players that carry less weight. Examples in most (not all) cases such as QBs, running backs, wide receivers, cornerbacks, safeties etc.?

  8. It does have me thinking are the bigger heavier players more at risk

    Interesting ideas there, t. Interesting how that functions alongside the numerous reports of how a circulatory system under the strains of weight and obesity are targets for Covid-19 complications and unfavorable outcomes.

    Sure, most football players are far healthier than the average obese person on the street ( warranting a full discussion the “fast-feeding” of fast foods upon Americans who can’t afford nor have access to healthy alternatives), but it does also make one wonder if this drive to steroid-up, PED-up, fatten-up, size-up many roster positions (primarily linemen) on a football team is another form of our abandonment of any real concern for their well-being and long term health.
    Beyond those own selfish endeavors to supersize 18-year-old’s no matter the long term damage and health consequences (along with the potential habitual response to gorge on food long after playing careers are over), do we even know if immune responses could be compromised in athletes “juicing up” in the bigger is better world of treating athletes like fattened up farm animals taken to market?
    The interplay of those motives juxtaposed with a virus which appears in many cases to not just target lungs is another obvious that will be swept under the rug (as has been the case with the troubling long term damages of traumatic brain injury from repeated concussions in a football world where weight and forces keep wildly escalating).

    Our motives are pretty clear…All you need do is open your eyes to the greed put ahead of everything else. There is also greed in simply wanting to win at any cost (including the cost of the health to a fatten-up, beefed-up, 4000 calorie junked-up, juiced-up young body/young heart).
    It’s not just financial greed.

  9. It won’t be long when IU Football can finally be competitive. It will likely be after most our lifetimes. It will be the day when we ‘DNA-up’….or ‘clone-up’ to basically build our football team studs one cell at a time. Likely some secret cloning site in Bedford, Indiana already in existence (probably in some warehouse thought to be where baby calves are kept in the darkness for our veal parmesan). Think of the old movie, ‘Coma,’ where we have humans suspended on puppet wires while we grow giant hearts for giant lineman.
    PED’s and other forms of juicing up and fattening up will be long obsolete and primitive. We’ll warehouse grow our way to wins and competitiveness. It will be races in mad science where the unethical motives to gain advantages today will look like fart dust in comparison.

    LeBron- Questions…
    Do you still forcefully clap your hands together at the beginning of a ‘bubble” game to create the baby powder cloud?
    How does that pregame performance go over without fans?
    Is your game struggling because a stage cannot be a stage in an empty Broadway theater?
    Does such emptiness of living sounds and living reactions from the seats steal the essence of a performance?
    For the truly great clutch performers and ‘kings’ of a stage, is the absence of the crowd the hijacking of your fuel and fire?
    Does the baby powder cloud now feel silly?

  10. Why isn’t ‘Mr. Bubble’ capitalizing off of this potential marketing bonanza?

    He could be the permanent mascot at all NBA games! The hell with Mickey Mouse! Give Mr. Bub some love.

    If NFL goes to the ‘Bubble,’ ex-Hoosier, Sudfeld, could do a product endorsement. “Stay out of trouble, play in the Bubble….now with added Lysol”

    MLB refuses to chew ‘Bubble’ gum…said Bryant Gumball while bubbling at his home?

  11. H4H, I think you have hit on a big idea and you need to market it before someone else comes up the the Mr Bubblehead idea.

  12. Thanks, V13…
    And where’s Lawrence Welk and Dick Dale & The Lemon Sisters when you need them?!
    I now propose the aforementioned linked tune to be the official intro song for all NBA broadcasts during the pandemic.

    This could be bigger than March Madness’s ‘One Shining Moment.’

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