It was the Thursday before Super Bowl XLIV. The New Orleans Saints had just finished practicing and defensive back Randall Gay was looking forward to the afternoon because his wife Desha and son Randall III would be arriving to Miami.
Thursday evening, Gay said he started feeling different. Desha was the first to suggest something might be wrong.
"Are you alright?" Desha said. "You look a little off."
Gay assured his spouse he was fine, or so he thought.
Friday morning around 1 a.m., Gay woke up from with what he assumed was just a headache. He started to get chills and sweating profusely.
Gay went to the team headquarters and visited with Saints' head athletic trainer Scottie Patton at 7 a.m. prior to the team's 8:30 a.m. arrival.
"Scottie checked my temperature and told me I was at 104 degrees," said Gay. "He said there was no way I was practicing."
Gay spent the rest of Friday in his hotel drinking a lot of fluids. He said he started feeling better Saturday morning and attended the team's walk-through at Sun Life Stadium but watched from the sidelines.
Gay went back to his hotel after the walk-through and started feeling sick again. When he went to sleep Saturday night it was déjà vu. The cornerback woke up with flu-like symptoms worse than the night before. He stayed up all night, shaking, coughing and laying in disbelief of the state he was in on Super Bowl Sunday.
"I kept thinking 'not today. Any day but this day,'" said Gay.
Gay had played in Super Bowls before, but this was different. The six-year NFL veteran helped the Patriots win Super Bowl XXXIX and reach Super Bowl XLII. However, the Louisiana native knew good and well what was at stake for the Pelican State. Gay, who helped LSU win the BCS title in 2003, was determined to help bring New Orleans its first Lombardi Trophy.
Gay arrived at Sun Life Stadium early Sunday morning to be hooked up to an IV. He wanted to play but only if he felt he could contribute.
"Before the game I was just drinking fluids constantly trying to lower my temperature," said Gay. "From Thursday on, I had a fever of 100 degrees or more. I felt if I got enough fluid in me and lowered my temperature then I could play."
Right before kickoff, the training staff gave Gay the green light to play. He received more IV treatment at halftime but at the end of the third quarter, Gay's body began to lock up. He was completely dehydrated and nauseated. He went to the sideline for more IV treatment and knew his night was finished.
"The more I moved, the worse I felt," said Gay. "If I was just standing or sitting still I was fine. When I was running and my blood started flowing causing my temperature to rise I got worse. I couldn't go. I was happy to get three quarters in and I gave everything I had."
The five-foot-11 defensive back played in 24 plays and had a pair of tackles to help lead the team he grew up watching to their first Super Bowl victory.
Gay was bedridden a week following the Super Bowl. He started feeling back to normal the Saturday after the game and was finally able to fully cherish what he had accomplished.
Gay enjoyed the Super Bowl victory with the Patriots but he said winning one for his hometown team was surreal.
Just like when he was apart of LSU's 2003 BCS Championship, the Baton Rouge native felt he was living a dream.
"When you are a kid, you always dreamed about winning championships," said Gay. "But to do it for your hometown, your home state at both levels – Wow! I am a Louisiana boy that was a part a championship at LSU and the Saints – I couldn't have asked for anything better."