For the first time since he tore his ACL, we spoke with Seahawks wide receiver Deion Branch, who clarified a few things regarding his knee and his comeback.
First, and perhaps most important, he had the surgery to repair the torn ACL on Feb. 7, which means that Sunday is the 7-month anniversary of his surgery.
He said there are three different ways to do the surgery. He chose the one that gives the knee more stability but takes a little while longer to heal. He could have had a cadaver's ligament placed in his knee, but Dr. James Andrews, who did the surgery, said he wouldn't do that surgery for him, he would have to go elsewhere. Instead, he chose to have a piece of his own patella tendon shaved off and made into his ACL.
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This is where it gets a little hazy. He said you hear different things, 6-9 months from some doctors for recovery, 9-12 from others. I said, "Deion, every doctor I speak with said a minimum of 9 months recovery. Given the nature of the injury and your career is at stake, why would you try to come back early and risk the possibility of your career ending?" In the end, he never directly answered the question. "Who knows?" he said. "If it is eight months, like Dr. Andrews said, 'Deion, I can't tell you when you will be ready. You will know. I can tell you when your knee is locked down, yeah, but I can't tell you when you are ready to play football. That will be you.'"
Branch was asked if he would be able to play on Sunday. He said he will play when Coach tells him he can play. So, on the one hand, Holmgren is telling us that Branch will play when Branch tells him he is ready. And on the other, Branch is telling us he will play when Holmgren says he is ready.
My personal opinion is that, when you take everything into account -- the type of surgery, the timing of the surgery, the position he plays, and the waffling -- he is not close to being ready. Seven months is way too soon for this type of injury. And if I am either him or the team, I wouldn't risk his long-term health for a few games now. That's just me, they may have something else in mind.
As for the injury, he said he suffered it while running a route in that Green Bay game that he has run 1,000 times. He said it has nothing to do with the snow or the cold or the field or anything. He made a cut and he felt his leg go. He said he didn't know immediately -- his kneecap had slid to the side and he couldn't slide it back. He says now he thinks it was his muscles around the knee protecting his knee. But he said when he got to the sideline, the doctor was asking him if his knee was sliding back and forth when he walked. When he realized his knee wasn't sliding, that's when he knew what the injury was.
Having said all that, he was sure to point out that none of this was the hardest thing he has had to do in his life. His son was born with spinal meningitis, and to this day he can't walk. He says he wakes up to that every day and appreciates what he has. This does not come close.
Speaking of which, he is having a bowling tournament to raise money for spinal meningitis. Here are the details in a press release written by his foundation:
KIRKLAND – Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver Deion Branch and his Deion Branch Charitable Foundation will present a Tuesday evening filled with fun, laughs, celebrity bowling on Tuesday, September 9 to benefit Meningitis Research. The Deion Branch's "Charitabowl " will begin at 6p.m. on September 9 at Lucky Strike located in Bellevue's Lincoln Square Mall.
Team sponsorship in the tournament is $2,500 for a four-person team, and includes dinner, parking, a "Charitabowl" limited-edition bowling shirt and a team photo with Deion Branch. Individual tickets are available at a cost of $350. The "Charitabowl" will help raise funds and draw attention to meningitis research.
"My family and I wanted to help raise awareness and money for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts" said Branch, who established his foundation in 2002 after his son, Deiondre, was diagnosed with Meningitis. "It's a chance for fans to come out, meet my Hawks teammates and raise money for Meningitis Research."
The Deion Branch Charitable Foundation is currently accepting team sponsorships for the September 9th "Charitabowl" event up until 6 p.m. on Friday, September 5. Tickets and table reservations for the fund-raising event can be arranged by calling Matthew Wade, executive director of the Deion Branch Charitable Foundation, at (206) 227-9387 or logging onto www.deionbranch83.com.