Former Gophers trainer donates kidney to ex-Gophers football star

Andrew Krammer

John Williams, now a dentist in Minneapolis' north side, learned a few years ago he had kidney disease and would eventually need a transplant. Last fall, Williams found out he would need it before 2012 ended.

Steve Nestor, now a Glenwood, Minn., businessman, was a perfect match for a transplant.

Williams and Nestor, both members of the 1967 co-Big Ten champion Gophers football team, were brought together four years ago by a football program reunion. Little did Williams know that he would be reconnecting with the man who would ultimately save his life.

Williams was a star offensive tackle on the 1967 Gophers and Nestor was a trainer on that squad. Many of Williams' friends and family members across the country reached out to help, and so did Nestor.

"I feel very humbled and appreciative of all the people who stepped forward," Williams told Sports Headliners. "It's hard to put into words how I feel about Steve. It says who he is."

The transplant took place this week at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Williams, also a lay minister who has visited prisoners for more than 25 years, said he expects to make a full recovery and be back practicing dentistry by July.

The Super Bowl champion Williams was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Colts and eventually played for the Los Angeles Rams. Before his career ended in 1980, he played in three Super Bowls, winning one in 1971 with the Baltimore Colts.