Even when his symptoms worsened and he started having trouble breathing, Tony Boselli still thought he’d be treated with IV fluids and given some medicine when he arrived at a hospital here.

It wasn’t until doctors told him he needed to be in the intensive care unit that he realized his condition was serious.

The former Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle ended up spending five days in Mayo Clinic while he fought COVID-19. About half of his stay was in the ICU, and he said it was shortly after he arrived there that he discovered he could be in even deeper trouble.

“It was kind of fuzzy, but I remember [the pulmonologist] saying, ‘If we don’t get your oxygen stabilized we’re going to have to go to the next level,'” Boselli said. “I remember laying there thinking, ‘What do you mean, if this doesn’t work?’ He says, ‘We don’t know what direction this is going to go.’

“I don’t know if I ever was like I thought I was going to die, but I remember having the conversation with myself: I don’t want to die here.”

Boselli, a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist the past four years, said his oxygen level improved enough over the next 24 hours that he didn’t have to find out what that next level would have been. That was the beginning of his recovery process, and he improved enough daily that he was discharged Tuesday without needing additional oxygen at home.

Boselli, 47, said he first started feeling ill March 16, but he thought he had a cold or allergies. Then he felt much worse two days later. That’s also the day he said he got a call and was told he had been around someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. He phoned his doctor and got tested that day. Two days later he received the test results that revealed he had COVID-19.

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