With new technology and advancement in medicine across the world, athletes have been beneficiaries of many amazing new treatments and surgeries. But are athletes too trusting of the wonders of modern medicine? Are they returning from injuries too early?
The answer is not quite as easy as it seems, because the results have varied for every athlete.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson returned a mere eight months after tearing both his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL). Peterson went on to have one of the greatest statistical seasons for a running back in NFL history and won the MVP award.
Then, for every case such as Peterson’s, there is one like Robert Griffin III. During the end of the 2012-13 season, Griffin sustained a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain but only took one week off, although he was still visibly hobbled.
Griffin suffered the fate every coach, athlete and fan fears when their injured star decides to play through an injury — they sustain an even greater injury.
Griffin tore his ACL and LCL against the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round of last year’s playoffs.
After seeing Peterson’s example of returning so quickly from injury, Griffin believed he could do the same. While Griffin did return and has played every game so far this season, his results on the field have been mediocre compared to his rookie season.
Perhaps the most interesting example of a player returning from a major injury is Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. Rose suffered through an injury-plagued 2011-12 season after winning the MVP award the previous season.
However, just like Griffin, Rose believed he could toughen up and play through his injury and ended up tearing the ACL in his left knee against the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs. Nearly a year and a half later, Rose has yet to step onto the court for the Bulls in a regular season or postseason game.
What is so peculiar about Rose’s situation is that he was able to play last season. However, he and the Bulls decided to play it safe and not take the chance of re-injuring his left knee.
Despite being pressured and ridiculed by fans and media, Rose stuck with his gut decision to not play because he never felt fully comfortable last season.
Rose has finally returned in the 2013 preseason and is seemingly back to his MVP form of a few years ago.
No one case of returning from injury is the same as witnessed with Peterson, Griffin and Rose. Every player must handle his or her return from injury differently.
Not every athlete has abnormal abilities to return from major injuries and be better than ever in a short amount of time like Peterson, so playing it safe like Rose may be the best option for some.
Oftentimes athletes feel that they need to be on the field for their teams, and if they are on not on the field, they feel as if they are letting not only their teams down, but also the fans.
Griffin certainly felt that pressure to perform for his team and has suffered the consequences early in the NFL season. Although the verdict is still out on Rose after returning from his injury, he ignored the critics and did what he felt was best for his own personal health and well being.
While Griffin’s attempt to return from injury is viewed as heroic, it was ultimately the wrong decision for him and the team. For young and talented players such as Griffin and Rose, they need to look at the bigger picture and what is best for their careers. Do they want to continue to play at a high level for another 10-15 years or risk everything for one game?