It's been a tough couple of seasons for Cedric Griffin. He tore his first ACL in overtime of the NFC championship loss to the Saints in January of 2010. He was really starting to pick up his play when he tore his other ACL against the Lions last October.
Two ACL tears in 10 months. Even EJ Henderson thought he got a bad break:
"I never seen a raw deal like the one he's gotten," middle linebacker E.J. Henderson said.
Wait a minute. When it comes to raw deals, what about you, E.J.? After all, how many NFL players have broken a femur, let alone broken one while being inadvertently hit by a teammate?
"Really, my injury doesn't compare to his," Henderson said. "He's a corner going down with two ACLs and now he's back again like nothing happened? I've never seen somebody with so much resolve. I look at the injuries I've had, but this guy, the way he bounced back from not only one ACL but a second one like it was no sweat. My hat's off to him."
So let me get this straight: The guy who blazed a trail in returning to the NFL from a broken femur (which hadn't been done prior to Henderson doing it), and created the Henderson protocols while doing it, thinks what happened to him is small potatoes comapred to Griffin?
Wow. But in a way, Griffin's return is going to be as unique as Henderson's was. And oh, by the way, I'm still mad EJ didn't win the Comeback Player Of The Year last season.
I'm still in the 'cleaning out the notebook' portion of my trip, and I made a note to myself to talk about the uniqueness of Griffin's double ACL tear return. As Mark Craig mentioned in his story, Coach Frazier was asked about how rare it was for a cornerback to return from a double ACL return, and when head trainer Eric Sugarman started researching it, they found out there wasn't any. As a matter of fact, they found that only one or two players had ever done it, but Frazier couldn't recall who it was. And Frazier was effusive in his prasie and work ethic of Griff:
It’s just a testament to his intestinal fortitude, he’s a rare guy. I asked head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman during the offseason how many guys have come back from two ACL surgeries and perform, and he couldn’t find a defensive back who had ever done that. For him to be where he is right now, really to be ahead of pace in a lot of ways and to be on schedule to make it back for our first game is just amazing in a lot of ways and just a testament to who he is and how hard he works, his attitude and his approach to getting better and not making any excuses for failure, he wants to succeed. A lot of guys would have been discouraged after the first injury, and who knows if they would have made it back next season. And there he was playing at a high level when he came back, and to see him not be down in the dumps after the second ACL injury and to approach it with such a great attitude and be where he is right now, you have to take you hat off to him. He is just a special, special person.
And while watching Griffin at camp, other than wearing a sleeve on his leg, you'd never know he was coming off of a second ACL surgery. He's practicing in all phases, from individual group drills to 11 on 11. He was matched up on Bernard Berrian on Saturday, and he looked like he will be ready to go. It really speaks to the dedication of Cedric Griffin, and he's a guy that will be counted on to help carry the Vikings secondary in 2011.
And this is really a hat tip to the training staff lead by Eric Sugarman. They've dealt with two injury situations in three years that had never happened in the NFL before, and they have both players back at 100% and ready to go.