TSG On “Knowing When” With Injuries

Not sticking out in the land of Stumptown coffee....

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.

My anonymous disc profile...hmm...maybe mimics my on field play?

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.

Martino for the Galaxy...

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.”

This morning?

“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.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by BW on 2010/11/10 at 6:26 PM

    speaking of…..fsc reports edu went off w/ knee injury. =/


  2. Ultimate players represent! I’m a competitive open player on a just-short-of-nationals team who has been lucky enough to avoid any major injuries so far.

    My wife, however, got her ACL and meniscus done in one play. She went cadaver with it and is very happy with the results.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/10 at 11:56 PM

      What team? Where? …sweet…


      • Medicine Men in Baltimore. Are you able to play at all any more?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/11 at 9:27 AM

          Nope! Just soccer and a little Winter League. I played low level Open (never went to Nationals) with a team called the Oaks and then went to Worlds with Red Fish Blue Fish — now defunct. We came in 4th down there.

          I’ll have to look up Medicine Men on upa.org (or whatever it’s called) and follow them next year.

          Shaun, who writes and does the Live Commentary here and I have a number of friends on Revolver. Happy to see those guys win from the Bay Area because they do it the right way (unlike a team before them named Jam.)


        • I strongly disliked Jam as well, just from watching them, and this Revolver team was amazing. Even though I was rooting for Ironside (I met my wife playing ultimate in New England), I was super impressed with their play. Clean, aggressive, awesome ultimate. Cahill and company are a force to be reckoned with.

          Anyway, my MA rivals Southpaw, Truck, and Ring brought home 2 strength bids for next year so hopefully I’ll be making my first trip to the big show.

          And excellent column. Minor technical note, though: the team that has the fewest turnovers doesn’t always win; the team that received wins if there are an equal number of turnovers for each team.


  3. Posted by kaya on 2010/11/10 at 9:28 PM

    Unfortunately, i think the wisdom of knowing when to say when is something that comes around your 30s, and that’s past the point of relevance of good decision making wrt a sporting career.


    • Posted by zlionsfan on 2010/11/12 at 10:53 AM

      Not necessarily … there are plenty of players in their 30s (early 30s, granted) who still have an impact on their teams, and at that, soccer is probably the exception rather than the rule. In most other sports, there are many players who play well into their 30s. (I think you can parse that either way: “play” well into their 30s, or “play well” into – and through – their 30s.)

      On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of players who didn’t get that wisdom in their 30s … not that I’m thinking of a specific NFL quarterback by name … actually I am.


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