We wrench it, we twist it, we crack it… often on a daily basis without thinking twice. We tend to under appreciate the importance of the neck…so many vital structures are housed there including the cervical spine/spinal cord. While we learned in medical school that C3, 4 and 5 keep ‘em alive (innervation of the diaphragm to control breathing for you non-medical types), the C spine is responsible for so much more; things we take for granted on a daily basis like controlling the movements of our upper extremities. The effortless movements of everyday activities like drinking our cup of morning coffee, texting, typing on a keyboard or gripping a football. The column of vertebral bodies: quite important in protecting our precious nervous system; it is also most vulnerable to compression and impingement. When we witness those who purposefully risk injury to their necks with knucklehead actions (i.e. the Situation head butting a wall, or Gus Frerotte running head first into a wall in a post TD celebratory act), we are flabbergasted as they obviously know not what they do or what risk they pose to their neck. If you have ever seen an injury at a sporting event where there is even a hint of a neck injury, the injured is gingerly moved and immobilized on a back board until it is certain that the cervical spine has not fractured or moved out of place potentially injuring the spinal cord.
Now, while I have no first hand knowledge of Peyton Manning’s exact injury, I do know recovery can be challenging and cervical spine disease can be career ending (Chris Samuels, Sterling Sharpe). A neurosurgeon or an orthopedist are not quick to operate on anyone with cervical spine disease from the get go unless necessary, let alone go back in for corrective surgery. The rehabilitation is long and people recover at their own pace. It is unpredictable, particularly when dealing with nerve recovery. Some are plagued with residual numbness or weakness. Hands are particularly important to a quarterback. Hand grip is everything. First, the ability to feel the football, to securely grasp a snap from the center; so crucial to a quarterback, not to mention arm strength: essential to accurately throw the classic spiral.
Unfortunately, one can only postulate that Peyton’s disease must be significant. Peyton’s play this year is in question. Everyone realized this weeks ago when the Colts quickly picked up Kerry Collins. And Peyton quickly plummeted down the QB draft list in most fantasy football leagues. The Colts field general is in the hurt locker. How will the Colts fair without Peyton and the uncertainty of his return? For now they must rely on the recycled Kerry Collins (maybe I shouldn’t have drafted Dallas Clark?) and an offense looking for a fearless leader.
We can only hope that Peyton’s malady is not career ending. He is not used to being in this position; that is one of not being in control. He is used to calling the shots, orchestrating his team, now he must sit back and wait, wait for his body to recover, to mend, to heal…Unfortunately he can’t control his recovery. He is not in the hurry up offense…The two minute drill…. He does not control the clock or his destiny for that matter. Not in this game. It must be frustrating and uncomfortable for him, not even a neck brace or traction can help. We can only wish him the best. Football (and the world of sports) needs good guys like him. Don’t count him out…we as football fans never do…as long as there is time on the clock, he can do amazing things.
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