Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn underwent surgery today to remove a cancerous tumor from his mouth and may need “a nerve graft” from his shoulder or leg “to preserve facial functions,” according to Tom Friend of ESPN.com.
Eighteen months ago Gwynn developed a malignant growth inside his right cheek, which he attributed to years of using smokeless tobacco as a player.
Friend notes that the “intricate” surgery requires five doctors, with Gwynn’s wife saying:
Hopefully, his face will work fine. Hopefully he’ll be able to blink his eye. They said they will make his face as normal as they can … and that it might be better than it was.
That sounds pretty scary, but for now at least Gwynn is hoping to return to his job as San Diego State’s head coach next month.