Coach Weis testifies in malpractice lawsuit
BOSTON -- Charlie Weis gritted his teeth on the witness stand on Wednesday as he recounted telling a priest, "Don't you dare," when weight-loss surgery left the Notre Dame football coach a candidate for the last rites.
"He told me he would give me a prayer for the sick and not a prayer for the dead," Weis testified in his malpractice lawsuit against the surgeons who performed his 2002 gastric bypass surgery.
Weis is suing Charles Ferguson, director of Massachusetts General Hospital's surgical residency program, and Richard Hodin, a surgeon and professor at Harvard Medical School, accusing them of botching the surgery commonly known as stomach stapling.
The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator claimed the doctors were negligent in allowing him to bleed internally for 30 hours after the original surgery. The doctors said they wanted to see if the bleeding would stop on its own rather than subjecting Weis to more surgery and a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism.
Dr. Lee Kaplan, who directed Weis' care, said Weis was told before the surgery that there was a risk of internal bleeding. Weis was in a coma for two weeks and nearly died; he still has trouble walking and pain when he stands on the sidelines for Notre Dame games.
Weis testified that he told only two people, his wife and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, that he had decided to have the surgery. He told New England coach Bill Belichick he was going to have a "stomach procedure."
Weis said Brady came to visit him in the hospital and would sit with him and watch tapes of practice in a study-turned-bedroom at home.
"One memory I have is looking at Tommy and saying, 'It was this close,"' Weis said.
Weis said he decided to have the operation after watching the DVD of the Patriots' victory in the '02 Super Bowl.
"I'm looking at myself and saying, 'Just look at me,'" he said. "I looked at myself and saw a disaster."
Weis, who had a family history of heart disease, said he was concerned about widowing his wife, but he also was thinking about a possible NFL head coaching job.
"I looked at myself and said, 'I wouldn't hire that guy,"' he said. "I just wouldn't hire me."
Weis gradually returned to his Patriots duties during the 2002 season and was hired by Notre Dame in December 2004.
A previous attempt to try the case resulted in a mistrial in February when a juror collapsed and the defendants rushed to his aid. The buzz over that trial crested when Brady took the stand and testified about visiting his bedridden mentor at home to lift his spirits.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP will be a one-time visitor to Suffolk Superior Court, though. Instead of calling him back to the stand, his testimony from the first trial was read to the jury.
Mike Mone Jr., whose father is the lead attorney on Weis' team, played the part of the supermodel-dating quarterback.
"Like many men, I dream of being Tom Brady," the bespectacled attorney said after the court recessed for the day. "But I don't know if this would be the 15 minutes I'd choose."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press