I got up early (on the West Coast) to see the Tennessee Volunteers take on the Gamecocks of South Carolina Saturday morning. My desire was triggered by Tennessee, which I believe to be a team on the verge. And I’m hopeful Derek Dooley will have the opportunity to stick around a while. Digressing.
What began as a game that promised to be a legitimate gridiron battle, quickly turned into a somber and emotional viewing experience. I’m no hater. I show partiality for 60 minutes of game time, but brass tacks, I have nothing but a world of respect for all of these young men who play college football.
One individual who caught my attention three years ago: Marcus Lattimore. An undeniably elite football talent, he had everything you hoped to see on the football field from a running back, and had his head on straight off the field.
Seeing him lose the bulk of his 2011 season to a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee was nothing compared to the shocking scene on Saturday when his right knee was ravaged by a combination of a hard hit and simple physics. If you haven’t seen the video, yes, it’s gruesome. Bodies aren’t made to bend in such a fashion. You’ve been forewarned.
There have been numerous reports about the injury, beginning with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and repeated by journalistic outlets, referring to the injury as a “dislocated knee.” What is a dislocated knee, you ask? Exactly. Can we get any more vague or ambiguous?
Obviously the lower leg is in the wrong position, so it’s “dislocated.” That doesn’t mean anything. If a leg is broken, technically you could say it’s dislocated, right? And so you ask yourself, “Why won’t they just state the extent of the damage?”
The doctor who examined the MRI said Lattimore suffered ligament damage, but there was no fracture, as was falsely reported by some beat-em-to-the-press, journalistic hack. Fact is, it is a dislocation. Frankly, a break would have been a welcome injury — a 6 to 8 week healing process instead of what will likely be 12 to 14 months of rehabilitation. This was a soft tissue injury. Far more severe.
No, I’m not the Manolith medical expert, but I have seen a few MRIs, including my own. And I’m no stranger to knee injuries. To answer the question: Why won’t they just admit the extent of the damage? Because they want to offer Lattimore every opportunity to rehabilitate with the potential of making a full recovery. A recovery without the rabid dogs known as NFL scouts and general managers being privy to the extent of the damage.
Knowledge of an injury gives rise to questions: Can he play again? Will he play again? Listen, people — the practice of sports medicine on the various joints of the body…? They can pretty much fix anything these days.
The biggest concern may very well be the state of the cartilage pad that separates the medial and lateral condyles on both the femur and tibia. This cartilage pad is most commonly referred to as the meniscus.
Four ligaments attach the leg bones: the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) on the outside, the medial collateral ligament (MCL) on the inside, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which runs through the center of the knee joint and gives the knee its twisting and turning stability, and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Slap a gliding piece of bone on the front for some protection and added stability, attach it to a couple of tendons for proper flexion, and you’ve got the knee.
Back to Mr. Lattimore.
When considering his ligaments: They’ll be repaired and replaced. And the bone and ligaments will strengthen through rehabilitation. If Marcus Lattimore wants to play more football, he’ll play more football.
Need further proof? Ten years ago, with sports medicine just pressing toward this contemporary era, they said Willis McGahee would never play again. Perennial 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL? Enough said.