An inside look into a major injury

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For many years I wondered why athletes that suffered major injuries weren’t always on the sideline. Well the past week I got a firsthand taste of what life is like with someone that suffered a major injury.

It was a little over a week ago when my wife and son were outside running around in the rain. My wife stopped, but my 10-year-old son didn’t see that she did and ran into her. That little bump caused my wife’s left Achilles tendon to rupture.

Now, live in a garden level apartment so there three steps going to the front door and there are around a dozen stairs to manage on the inside from the front entrance. After a week it’s clear that even one stair with someone on crutches is hard.

To get up the stairs from our house my wife has to sit and scoot up the stairs. From there she can lift herself up onto a wheelchair, but it’s very hard to do so. From there I can do the rest to get her to the car.

Going into the house is a much different story.

When we go inside I wheel her up to the first step from there I put the brakes on the wheelchair.  Then she gets up, leans on one foot. Then she puts her left arm around me and hops up the stairs, which is repeated several times to get inside.

Now you may think that this story is done, but you would be wrong.

When we went to the doctors I fully expected to hear the doctor say that she will need surgery. That was far from the case, but not for good reasons.

The reason the doctor advised against surgery was the fact that the rupture was where the tendon and the calf muscle meet. That is a point on the Achilles where it narrows, so there isn’t much there to work with. If my wife were an athlete the doctor would have advised surgery, but the risk of rerputure would have been higher.

In the end, where a rupture occurred on the Achilles tendon is the upmost importance.

Sabres bid is hard to say no to

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Anyone who has been to a Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center has seen firsthand the rivalry between the two teams. Well the rivalry has been taken to a whole new level with the latest news from the Sabres.

According to the Associated Press, the Sabres have submitted a bid to the National Hockey League for the Harbor Center to be host of the NHL Combine for the next three years.

“We’re very confident that this is where it should be,” Black said about the combine. “I believe that we’ve probably put in the most work and are the most prepared to host this in less than a year.”

The Harbor Center has two rinks, stands for fans to attend, meeting rooms, training center, the ability to do on and off-ice testing and it will be hard to say no to the Sabres for one very important reason.

Privacy is a very important thing to players at times. They are human beings and don’t like to be mobbed by fans whenever they go somewhere. The Harbor Center provides this anonymity as it will also house a hotel as well.

Also, there is more than enough space within walking distance to the Harbor Center as the Phillips Lytle Building is next door and houses the Courtyard by Marriott and the Adams Mark Hotel which is only a few blocks away.  Let’s not forget the fact that there will be a Tim Hortons within the facility and who doesn’t like Tim Horton’s.

For evidence all one has to look at the fact that USA Hockey announced that the facility will host both the Under-18 women’s and sledge hockey world championships next year. Also, they will play host to USA Hockey’s annual All-American Prospects game over the next two years.

In the end, the Sabres will win, because the Harbor Center has too many features that will benefit everyone that is involved with the combine.

Cowboys host camp for underserved

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(The following is from a press release from the Dallas Cowboys)

The Dallas Cowboys will host the third annual Dallas Cowboys U high school football camp for 160 underserved student-athletes at their Valley Ranch training facility on Thursday, June 12 from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM (media availability starting at 10:00 AM).

The entire Dallas Cowboys roster and coaching staff will work with the youth to provide football instruction and discuss important off-the-field life-skills topics. Cowboys players will coach the high school athletes in round robin 6-on-6 games, while the team’s coaching staff are scheduled to consult the players as they coach.

The student athletes were selected to participate by their high school football coaches. The students represent more than 20 North Texas high schools from 10 different school districts. For several years, Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett has hosted a similar football camp at his alma mater, Princeton University.

“We hope that the camp will provide an impactful experience for deserving student-athletes who will remember the event for years to come,” said Garrett. “This camp offers a unique opportunity for our players and coaches to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these young men.”

To start the camp, the student-athletes will be divided into eight teams, each led by a Dallas Cowboys player – Tony Romo, Brandon Carr, Tyron Smith, Barry Church, Jason Witten, Sean Lee, Dez Bryant and Doug Free. The remaining Cowboys roster will be allocated as assistant coaches to each of the eight teams to help install and instruct the game plan for the 6-on-6 tournament.

Prior to concluding the camp, Cowboys players and Garrett are scheduled to address the participants in a life skills discussion.

During the day, the high school chaperones and high school coaches in attendance will receive information from the Taylor Hooton Foundation (www.TaylorHooton.org) – a non-profit whose mission is to raise awareness and educate youth and parents on the dangers of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. They will also receive hydration information from Gatorade and Heads Up player safety information from USA Football.

Underwritten by Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities and proudly supported by Paragon Healthcare, the camp will provide each youth with a camp t-shirt, athletic shorts, a Nike cinch sack and a New Era cap. Breakfast and lunch are provided courtesy of Cowboys partners Albertsons, Papa John’s, Pepsi, Gatorade, Dr Pepper, Dairy Max and Dunkin Donuts.

Bills and Steelers to hold joint practice

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With training camps slated to start next month, word about teams holding joint practices is starting to trickle out. Two of those teams that will be practicing together are the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The two teams will meet on August 13th and 14th.  Practice on the 13th will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00p.m. On the 14th the teams will practice from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. This will culminate with the two teams playing against each other in week two of the preseason on August 6th at 7:30 p.m.

Bills suffer monumental loss

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Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, with 11:18 left to go in the third quarter, threw his third touchdown pass on the day to wide receiver Donald Jones and increased the Bills lead to 14 by a score of 21-7. However, from there on out the Bills defense had a monumental collapse as the Bills lost 52-28 to the New England Patriots.

The Bills after that let the Patriots score on every drive as they scored six straight touchdowns and ended it with a field goal. The answer to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was simply they played better.

“We just played and executed better,” coach Bill Belichick said. “It’s no magic.”

There is truth to that as the Bills held Brady in check  as the defensive line got some pressure on Brady in the first half, and got a sack for their efforts. After that Brady had all day the Bills failed to get any pressure on him, which Brady made them pay for by completing 22 of 36 passes for 340 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Brady is one of the best in the game and you know he is going to score points, but the Bills offense didn’t help at all as they turned the football over six times and could only muster one touchdown after going up 21-7.

The loss already puts the Bills in a bad spot as they are now 0-2 in the division and have a brutal schedule coming up as four of their next five games are on the road. The Bills play at San Francisco next week, followed by a road game in Arizona, then home against the Tennessee Titans, they then go on the road again to face Houston and then finish it off by playing at New England.

To make matters worst for the Bills, Arizona and Houston are each undefeated at 4-0 with San Francisco having a 3-1 record and that is besides the fact that the Bills haven’t won in New England since the turn of the century.

Simply, the next five weeks will show where the Bills stand three years in the regime of Bills general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey.

Sabres are a good example

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The Buffalo Sabres this prior to this past season went and made a bunch of moves and despite all those moves still didn’t make the National Hockey League playoffs. They serve as a good example to Buffalo Bills fans.

The Bills themselves also made some noise recently by signing defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. Then in the National Football League Draft added another cornerback in Stephon Gilmore and a left tackle in Cordy Glenn.

The thing is they are all new additions to the Bills. So, the full impact of the moves won’t be felt for years to come.

The first reason is that draft picks take several years to fully develop. There are some draft picks that make big impacts right away, but they are usually the first few players taken at the top of the Draft. The other is the little things called chemistry and experience.

The two are important in the fact that they work hand in hand and allow fellow teammates to cover for each other if one messes up, and a good example is linebackers in a 4-3 defense.  Lets say there is a run off tackle and the outside linebacker on the side that the play is running shoots the gap to try and make the tackle in the backfield but misses. An experienced middle linebacker in a group that has played together for a while would know that outside linebacker tends to do just that on that play, and runs down the line of scrimmage to make the tackle.

The Bills for the most part a very young team and are just learning how to win and be successful. That means they may improve. Just not enough to the liking of Bills fans.

In the end, unless the Bills win four games or less, Bills fans should be prepared for Gailey to be here in 2013 even if they don’t make the playoffs.

It’s a part of the game

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A lot has been said about the New Orleans Saints bounty program and the notion of hurting offensive players. The fact of the matter this is all a part of the game.

The whole issue is being brought up again as a film maker Sean Pamphilon, who was following the Saints last season, released audio of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams giving a speech before their Division round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers this past January. Speeches like the one Williams gave and encouragement to hurt the opponents, like Williams did in the speech, is a part of the game at all levels.

Former National Football League quarterback and current ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck confirmed this as on the Colin Cowherd show Wednesday he said, “Never ever was I on a team where a coach didn’t talk about injuries of the opposing player.”

This encouragment is the exact reason why NFL and National Hockey League coaches lie on injury reports or are extremely vague in their comments to the media. Because they know if they disclose what the injury is, opposing players will go right after the injury then.

“Little 32,” Williams said. “We want to knock the f#4* out of him. He has no idea what he is in for.”

Talk like that is common in every locker room at every level of football. The reason is that when you keep hitting offensive players so hard all game long, eventually they will not want to be out there.

Even though football is a physical sport, psychology is an important aspect of the game, because sometimes teams are evenly matched physically. That means the difference between winning and losing in these games is the will and desire to win.

With hard physically punishing hits being the best way to break a team’s will, along with the game being so violent in nature, a player knows from the very first time you put the pads on that by the time you played your last game there is a good chance you will have suffered an injury that will alter your life down the road.

That is the exact reason why retired players for years now have been seeking to change the way disability cases in the National Football League

“You have to be paralyzed for them to give you disability,” a former player said to Pamphilon

The whole reason that Pamphilon released the tape is, because Williams made reference to giving players concussions.

“Or was it because I have friends I love dearly who played the game and got their “bell rung” so many times that I fear they won’t remember their children’s faces by the time their kids have kids,” Pamphilon pondered as why he made the audio public. “Yep, I’m pretty sure the last one was the reason I wasn’t smiling.”

Pamphilon went on later in the statement made reference to Dr. Bennett Omalu who was the doctor that discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster.

The funny thing is Pamphilon must have missed Dr. Omalu’s long time partner in CTE research Dr. Julian Bailes, who is now the chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at NorthShore Universirt HealthSystem, comments on preventing concussion.

“Helmets have a natural limitation,” Bailes said in a Chicago Health article. “With some major collisions, the helmet—the head—stops moving. The brain, which is floating inside, can continue the momentum, hitting against the inside of the cranium possibly rotating and tearing fibers. Helmets work well for preventing scalp laceration, skull fracture and bleeding in the brain, but they don’t always prevent rotation and tearing of brain fibers.”

The article went on to state that there is now a possible new solution in preventing concussions. That being a collar that compresses on the arteries in the neck to increase blood flow and prevent sloshing, which is the term Bailes came up with for the process of suffering a concussion.

The collar in studies on rats is found to have reduced the tearing of brain fibers by 83 percent. In other words unless a device is created that can be inserted into a helmet and emanates some kind of field that stops sloshing, concussions will always be a part of football.

The only thing that Pamphilon really accomplished is destroying his credibility with all sports teams and his career as he released the audio without the permission of the team or coaches.

In the end, next year all the coaches and players that have been and will be suspended due to bounty gate will be back in the NFL, except Williams that is as his return depends on the approval of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, which is reviewed on a yearly basis, while Pamphilon won’t be allowed in a sports team facility long after they return.

Anderson’s addition is nice, however…

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The Buffalo Bills held a press conference yesterday ay One Bills Drive to announce the signing or free agent defensive end Mark Anderson. Anderson’s addition is nice, however injuries are still going to be the thing that makes or breaks their season.

The Bills at the beginning of last year showed that they have a talented team with an explosive offense. That is until injuries started to ravage the Bills and opponents figured out that you could pass all day long on them.

Now, teams won’t have the luxury of being able to pass all day long. If anything teams at first are going to run the football more. That will change later in the season if history keeps repeating itself.

The fact of the matter is the Bills have placed 15 players on injured reserve each of the last three years. Also, two of those years the number of players placed on injured reserve was over 20.

It doesn’t matter how talented your team is; if your starters keep on getting hurt for the year your going to wind up in the basement of the NFL.

There might be a little bit of relief for the Bills this year. According to reports, the National Football League Competition Committee is recommending a rule change to injured reserve. That being one player hurt early in the preseason or regular season can come off injured reserve in week six and be activated by week eight.

That is some good news as there is always a case of a player breaking an arm or leg and missing the season, even though they were all healed by mid-season.

In the end, if the Bills want to make the playoffs they need to find a way to minimize the number of players that get hurt each year.

Bills have another option at offensive tackle

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Currently the Buffalo Bills could use a starting left tackle as Demetrius Bell remains unsigned with free agency opening tomorrow. Well the Bills have another option available to them in tackle Levi Brown.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, via Pro Football Talk, the Arizona Cardinals have cut Brown. The reason being the Cardinals coudln’t justify his salary cap number of $17 million this upcoming season.

Brown maybe one of those rare impact signings that you will see. Brown will turn 28 years old this week and has started every game the last four years.

In the end, with Jared Gaither also available, the Bills are better off going to free agency to solve their starting left tackle problem.

Bills enter free agency in good shape

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Free agency in the National Football League opens on Tuesday on time this year. As for the Buffalo Bills they enter Tuesday in pretty good shape.

The Bills got their biggest names resigned in wide receiver Stevie Johnson, tight end Scott Chandler and kicker Ryan Lindell. The only two names that remain that the Bills should consider resigning are offensive tackle Demetrius Bell and cornerback Reggie Corner.

Corner isn’t a starter, but a quality depth player and with Terrence McGee still on the roster they will need someone like him.

As for Bell, he is debatable as offensive tackle Chris Harriston filled in fine for him last season. However, there is also Jared Gaither is available and proved to be a quality starter with the San Diego Chargers last season.

So, what doe that really leave the Bills?

Linebackers: They are all set there as Kelvin Sheppard should be in the middle with Nick Barnett and Author Moats on the outside. Most likely there will be a competition between linebackers Chris White, Danny Batten and Moats with Moats winning it out due to his talent.

Defensive line: They are set at the defensive tackle position with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams as the starters with Dwan Edwards and Torell Troup rotating in. As for defensive end, the left side should be fine with Chris Kelsay being the starter and Alex Carrington the backup. The right side is where the concern as the starter will be Shawne Merriman, but he has been plagued by injuries and there is no real backup behind him.

Defensive Back: At safety they are definitely all set there in regards to starters and backups. The question is cornerback as Terrence McGee has been plagued by injuries and Leodis McKelvin has been inconsistent. However, Aaron Williams last year gave a needed jolt to the group and if he continues to develop they should be okay.

Quarterback: There has been some lingering doubt about Ryan Fitzpatrick being the franchise quarterback for the team. However, in my opinion that was all erased when wide receiver Stevie Johnson signed his contract and Fitz shaved he’s back in his head. What it showed is that the guy is going to go to hell and back for you no matter what happens. He has a fire and a passion for the game I haven’t seen since Jim Kelly retired.

Running Back: Probably one of the best one two punch in the entire NFL.

Wide Receiver: They have dynamic number one in Stevie Johnson who I think will prove to be one of the elite wide receivers in the next couple years. Also, they have a solid slot receiver in David Nelson. The only question is the starting number two wide receiver.

The Bills have high hopes for wide receiver Marcus Easley, but a knee injury wiped out his rookie season and a illness wiped out his sophomore year. Donald Jones looked okay before he was injured, but if there is any doubt they could make a run at San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson or even bring back Lee Evans who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens recently.

Tight end: The team has a solid starter they resigned in Scott Chandler. The only question is his backup as they really don’t have one for him at this point.

Offensive Line: The only question is left tackle as last year’s starter Demetrius Bell and we already addressed that earlier.