TSG: “You know, you put a flannel shirt on Rooney and he’s going to fit right in up in P-town.”
Kyle: “Guy looks just like a freaking lumberback too.”
Kyle Martino and I had a chance to chat over coffee this morning. For those new to TSG, we reached out Kyle when he was back at ESPN because we’re a big fan of his play-by-play.
We were talking Rooney heading to Nikeville to recuperate and our chat turned to injuries as Kyle and I discussed the recent spat of injury news headlines (Rooney, Hargreaves, Twellman) in the soccer world. It also turned personal and I wanted to share our sentiments.
In 2004, I ruptured my second ACL. This time, my left knee. My last replacement consisted of a patella tendon replacement on the right knee way back in college. For those unfamiliar (and hopefully that’s the bulk of you) with knee surgeries, there are three basic ways to replace an ACL: cadaver graft, hamstring graft, patella graft.
As you move from left to right along the “grafts,” the relative “strength” of the repair goes up as the speed of to recover goes down.
For my left knee I selected a hamstring graft as means of speedier recovery with still adequate strength for an active lifestyle. Bad decision.
Being an avid ultimate frisbee player with tournaments consisting of at minimum four grueling games over two days, I consistently felt the injury…in my hamstring despite assurances by my doctor that I “wouldn’t miss” the piece of sinew that was taken.
The injury really came to a head for me at the World Ultimate Frisbee Championships in Perth, Australia in 2006 (yes you read that last phrase correctly….there are world championships).
A seven day tournament where you consistently go up against the best (meaning you can’t take a single play off), by day four of the tournament I was heavily wrapping the hamstring and taking ibuprofen, by day six it was duct tape over the wrap and vicodin. Needless to stay, not smart and you can’t possibly play your best on medication and with a robo-fix.
Players will do anything to play….which leads to Kyle’s story.
Martino’s tale has a different slant and, as I learned today, is even more harrowing.
He tore his hip and eight weeks later he was practicing with the US team and taking on international sides in January camp 2006.
Later that year upon World Cup roster selection, Martino had this to say about the invitation and injury:
“I wasn’t going to regret for the next four years not going into that camp.”
“If I had to do it over a hundred times, I’d do it again. That was my only shot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.”
“They should never let athletes make the decision on playing, any athlete is going to want to get back on the field as soon as they can. Even lie to themselves.”
“I probably…I shouldn’t have come back that soon.”
“I played the entire next year with effects of the injury and surgery, wearing the thickest compression shorts that you’ve ever seen. Before each game, in the trainer’s popping pills and getting ready. Ruined my career.”
While we both had difference experiences and Martino’s obviously more dramatic and crippling to his livelihood, we agreed on the need to find the absolute best doctor you can and listen to them.
Martino had much more to say on the topic of injuries so we’re negotiating with some Black Crows tickets to get him to pen a piece for us on the topic in the next few weeks.
The thesis of course, “The doctors should make the call.” Something that the NFL is wrestling with in abundance right now.