Back in the 90s and 2000s, former Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan was known as "The Mastermind" and had a keen eye for talent in the draft, in particular at the running back position.

In 2008 - Shanahan's last season as head coach - he drafted a player with the 20th pick in the 7th round out of the University of Arkansas named Peyton Hillis. Once again, Shanahan struck gold as Hillis became the Broncos' starter by the end of the season and ended up the team's leading rusher.

The Broncos still finished the season with an 8-8 record, prompting Shanahan's firing and the arrival of rookie head coach Josh McDaniels. McDaniels never really used Hillis in the same way during the 2009 season, leading the ultimately ousted coach to trade him to the Cleveland Browns for Brady Quinn before the 2010 season began.

103.7 The River logo
Get our free mobile app

After arriving in Cleveland, Hillis' season began the same way his career did in Denver - down toward the bottom of the depth chart. But after some injuries to the guys in front of him, he got the call in Week 3 of the season and never looked back - putting up the best numbers of any season of his career.

This ultimately led to him being chosen as the cover player for the Madden 12 video game. The honor - historically and superstitiously - comes with a curse. Several players have been injured or had really bad years statistically the year after appearing on the cover. And this is exactly what happened to Hillis too. His opportunities diminished due to Injuries and poor play over that next season.

He then bounced around a few other NFL teams without much success before ultimately retiring in 2015.

Peyton Hillis is currently in critical condition after saving his kids from drowning while on vacation in Pensacola, Florida.

TMZ reports that Hillis saved his two children from drowning and was hospitalized as a result. He was flown via helicopter to a nearby hospital where allegedly he remains unconscious and is receiving treatment on his lungs and kidneys.

Peyton's uncle, Greg Hillis, posted on Facebook, “I just wanted to let everyone know on Razorback Nation that Peyton is doing better,” Hillis wrote.

“He’s still in intensive care and having some problems with his kidneys and his lungs but the doctors say he is improving. I just wanted to head off any rumors that may be started. I’m sure he would want everyone to know that he appreciates all of the prayers thrown up on his behalf!!!”

Hillis' two children are safe and well, and Peyton's condition is apparently improving according to some reports. Here's hoping dad recovers quick and can be celebrated as the hero he is for saving them!

Former Broncos Player Orlando Franklin Selling Cherry Hills Mansion for $9.9 Million

The former Denver Broncos player is selling a stunning Cherry Hills mansion for $9.95 million.

See Inside Broncos QB Russell Wilson's $28 Million Dollar Mansion

More From 103.7 The River