Tom Hughes, a guard, was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 1967 NFL/AFL draft. Hughes was selected by both teams because the drafts for the two leagues took place simultaneously. Before the 1970 season began, he was dealt to the Detroit Lions. Although he is labeled as a wide receiver, the most of his offensive play came as a backup on special teams. Hughes caught 15 passes in his five-year career.
Detroit was down 28-23 late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Greg Landry handed the ball to Herman Hughes, an injury replacement who had entered the game. Hughes returned the ball for 32 yards after receiving the pass, moving the Lions into Chicago territory.
Landry dropped a pass from tight end Charlie Sanders after three plays. A decoy on the play, Hughes started to run back to the huddle before falling to the ground not far from the 20-yard line. Then, for some minutes, he remained still while clutching his chest. Hughes lay motionless on the field, violently convulsing next to Bears linebacker Dick Butkus. Butkus anxiously waved for assistance from the sidelines.
A doctor and two trainers rushed to Hughes after he passed out in the stadium and began to assist him. Additionally, a doctor who was at the game and needed assistance rushed to Hughes. Hughes was soon taken to the Henry Ford Hospital in an ambulance. At 5:34 that afternoon, he passed away due to complications from his wounds. He was 28 years old. Before a hushed Tiger Stadium crowd, the Bears maintained their lead as the game came to a close. The Lions players were waiting for updates on Hughes’ condition when they learned of his passing.
Hughes had severe and undetected arteriosclerosis, or a heart ailment brought on by 75% clogged arteries, according to a postmortem assessment. Hughes’ coronary thrombosis, which ultimately caused his death, was brought on by a family history of heart illness. Joe Schmidt, the head coach of the Lions, and 40 other members of the coaching staff and squad attended his funeral in San Antonio, Texas. He left behind a $10,000 trust fund that was put up by an insurance firm as of the age of his son Brandon Shane, who is now 1 year and 11 months old. Brandon Shane’s mother Sharon Leah, who is a widow, also survived him. A patient reported that Henry Ford Hospital failed to diagnose his ailment after being admitted for chest problems. The patient’s widow then sued for malpractice in 1972, seeking $21.5 million in damages. On October 3, 1974, the matter was resolved for an unknown sum of money.