Phil Brabbs Has Cancer

Submitted by Brian on September 14th, 2009 at 11:08 AM

This sucks:

For Brabbs, a former kicker for the University of Michigan who kicked one of the most famous field goals in Wolverines’ history, his next battle is on the horizon.

Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a cancer of the plasma cell), Brabbs, a 1999 Dow High graduate who turned 29 on Aug. 7, is preparing for his treatment to start next month at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Treatment Center.

The cancer, specialists told Brabbs, has been growing. In a year’s time, it’s gone from being in 10 percent of his bones to 30 percent.

Vada Murray is horrible enough. Brabbs is younger than I am:

“This has been a long, drawn-out process. It started when I was 25 and living in North Carolina,” he said. “I would have a panic attack and this stabbing pain, and have no clue what was going on.

“Age is on our side,” Brabbs added. “The average age for a person getting this is 68. That’s why we want to be aggressive (with treatment).”

It sounds like he's going to have a difficult few months with chemo and radiation and a stem-cell transplant, but Brabbs is upbeat. He's even got a blog.



September 14th, 2009 at 11:17 AM ^

This is so sad. I hope he pulls through and can continue on with a happy and long life. I'm pulling for ya Brabs, my prayers are with you (Vada included).

Regarding that kick against Washington, I thought that was one of the best game winning kicks I have ever seen. The guy completely missed his first 2 attempts, and by completely I mean he would have missed the broad side of a barn from 5 yards out. Then his 3rd attempt is the furthest of his attempts for the day and he absolutely nails it. It was unbelievable.


September 14th, 2009 at 11:24 AM ^

Well that sucks.

One good thing is that they apparently caught it early and he is young enough to fight it. Best wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery Mr. Brabbs!


September 14th, 2009 at 11:25 AM ^

This is terrible news. I know very little about cancer, but the fact that it is in 30% of his bones sounds pretty bad.

However, his young age should be a benefit (as noted by Brabbs) in terms of going aggressively at the cancer. He should be able to withstand more pain during the chemo than the standard person who has this treatment (68 years old).

My prayers are with him. It is good to hear that he is in good spirits.

Desert Blue

September 14th, 2009 at 11:32 AM ^

Sad to hear. Along with his finest Michigan moment vs U-Dub, I remember the Illinois game that season where I believe he recovered a fumble and ran it inside the Illini 5. My memory is foggy but I seem to remember he made a couple good special teams tackles. He struggled after the first game, which showed just how clutch that kick was even more, but I always was impressed by the way he always gave it his all and I'm sure he's gonna do it all again.


September 14th, 2009 at 11:41 AM ^

We started a Brabbs for Heisman campaign for him early one season, when a series of trick plays and special teams disasters gave him incredible average stats.

Good luck, Brabbs! You will always be the favorite player of Fishbowl Rising.


September 14th, 2009 at 11:56 AM ^

That game against Washington was my first Big House experience as a student. It remains right up there with Braylon-fest and PSU '05 in my memories, and I have Phillip Brabbs to thank for that.


September 14th, 2009 at 11:57 AM ^

My first ever game at the big house was UM v UW in '02. I'll never forget that kick or the name Phil Brabbs. Best of luck to him in his next battle. My prayers are with him.

Carl Spackler

September 14th, 2009 at 12:07 PM ^

I was serving in the military and was in Oman when I watched this game. I was sitting in the dining hall at about 12:00am watching on AFN. I remember screaming and running up and down the tent that was where we ate. there were no other michigan fans watching and people were looking at me saying "who the fuck is the crazy Lt?" I will never forget it.

God Speed Phil...


September 14th, 2009 at 12:13 PM ^

What a great kick and win. I was in the front row of the student section that game and my friend actually had his lung popped from the weight of the student surge trying to get on the field.


September 14th, 2009 at 12:15 PM ^

a person who watched my mom die of breast/bone cancer(started as breast and then moved into the bone)this is not good. i am not trying to be downer to the brabbs family at all. but bone cancer is not like any other cancer. it moves fast and then gets into the bone marrow causing the body to stop producing blood, which eventually shuts the entire body down. i hope that they have caught it early enough that phil does not have to go through this at all. i have always said that i would never wish this type of thing upon anyone because it fucking sucks!!!

phil i will be praying for you!!! GO BLUE!!!


September 14th, 2009 at 12:28 PM ^

Phil is one of the classiest and most dignified people i have ever met. Rarely will you ever meet a nicer man. Hopefully a few breaks will fall his way and he'll be playing in the spring flag football game again next year.
I was listening to that flag football game on WTKA last april and he broke up a pass (maybe intended for Ron Bellamy?) and the announcer (maybe Jamie Morris?) screamed, "was that brabbs?!? that was brabbs!!" I had a smile ear to ear but it didnt surprise me, nor did the special teams plays he made in his career, he was/is a legitimately great athlete. Lets hope that his fitness and will to win help him in the coming months and years.
As his friend it makes me so happy to see all the nice comments everyone has for him as i am sure he and his wife and kids appreciate them. Everyone remembers him for that kick (one of the great Michigan moments in my life) but he is a smart, accomplished man with a great family who is so much more than that one moment.
Good luck Phil!


September 14th, 2009 at 12:35 PM ^

I was 40 weeks pregnant at the Washington game in '02. It was hot as hell and my husband and two friends carted about 15 bottles of water into the game for me, fearing that I would get dehydrated. My doctor didn't want me to go, but I'd been to the game at Washington and I was not going to miss our shot at redemption. I was on pins and needles the whole game and, when Brabbs trotted on the field after the day our kickers were having, well...I'm not a religious person, but I said a little prayer. Just this one time. Please.

I was in section 42, so I couldn't judge accurately that the kick went through until the student section exploded. Back at the tailgate, people were shocked that the drama didn't send me into labor.

I took a picture of our kicker outside the tunnel after the game. The look on his face? Well, you would have thought he just won the Super Bowl. I still treasure that win and that picture.

God bless your cotton pickin' maize and blue heart, Phil. You'll be in my thoughts.


September 14th, 2009 at 12:32 PM ^

Phil kept Michigan undefeated on my birthday, which I still think is an awesome thing. I hope he does make it and I hope that the coaching staff might be persuaded to let Phil be an honorary captain for a game coming up. If he's up to it, it would be nice to give him a salute at the Big House.

Swayze Howell Sheen

September 14th, 2009 at 12:45 PM ^

i remember that game fondly. my 1 year old was sitting in my lap,
and i screamed so loudly she started to cry (and was relatively
inconsolable such was the shock of dad's scream).

good luck to Mr. Brabbs. It does suck to have cancer. However,
it sucks less than it used to. May good fortune find him as it
did that glorious day in 2002.

STW P. Brabbs

September 14th, 2009 at 1:27 PM ^

Like many, I'll always remember that Washington game, and the sheer cajones it took to drill that kick in the biggest of moments after struggling early on.

I'll also remember Mr. Brabbs hauling ass on kick coverage and the fateful fake kick that is my MGoNamesake.

30% Multiple Myeloma = early misses at Washington. Brabbs beating the cancer = 31-29 pandemonium.


September 14th, 2009 at 2:04 PM ^

Best wishes for Phil, hopefully he pulls through!

That was one of my favorite Michigan Stadium moments as a student. I think Brabbs only went 3 for 9 on field goals that year, but that kick was simply awesome!


September 14th, 2009 at 2:05 PM ^

Phil is my brother-in-law and, although I now live on the west coast, every time I've been back to Ann Arbor, he has been in great spirits and has been extremely positive. I have no doubt that he will make a full recovery.

Sgt. Wolverine

September 14th, 2009 at 2:22 PM ^

I used to work with Phil's wife (though they weren't yet married back then), and I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to him a few times. He's a high-quality individual, and I know his faith and his family are helping him through this difficult time.

Phil, my prayers are with you.


September 14th, 2009 at 2:49 PM ^

I've exchanged a few notes with Phil -- he's under the care of the same oncologist I had during my undergraduate years here at UofM. He'll be under the care of a pretty awesome physician. Can't ask anything less for one of the classiest guys I know.


September 14th, 2009 at 6:23 PM ^

phil's a man of faith, and a man of optimism. i went to high school with him and go to the same church as him. seeing his outlook on life, you'd never believe that he had cancer. if anyone is equipped to handle this, it's him...


September 14th, 2009 at 7:13 PM ^

It is really sad for this guy to have to through this at that age. That was a very clutch kick and will easily go down as one one of the greatest memories in the Big House. I hope he pulls through this and best wishes and good luck.


September 14th, 2009 at 7:57 PM ^

Wow, I am blown away by the support that has flooded this blog post, my health blog (, email and Facebook account.

I recall walking out to every practice reading the words above the doors saying "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions." Today I would like to add to those words and say, "Those Who Stay Will Be Blessed." I am blessed by the love and support of the Michigan family and fans that have joined our side as we press forward together.

I will be receiving treatment at U of M's Cancer Center, so I am in good hands!

Next up, EMU.

God Bless and Go Blue!

Phil Brabbs, #34


September 14th, 2009 at 9:01 PM ^

Keep your head up. My father is 57 years old, diagnosed with MM 2 1/2 years ago. Been through chemo, then stem-cell transplant, now back to chemo again. Everyday brings something new, it is not going to be easy but you can fight. Don't ever get to low and look at your beautiful family as one of many reasons to stay strong. I wish you and yours the absolute best of luck. Appreciate everyday and givet it your all. Somebody has got to beat MM, might as well start now!


September 14th, 2009 at 9:04 PM ^

You broke my hand with that kick, out of excitement and youth I decided the best way to celebrate would be to slam my hand on a doore handle. My wife doesn't remember the kick but she remembers the broken hand, go figure.


September 14th, 2009 at 11:32 PM ^

Brabbs was my neighbor in 2002. I left a note on his door ("you da man") after the Washington game.

Phil, I hope the Arkansas treatments work and you can get through this.