Thursday, January 19, 2012

Josh Chapman: Winner of the 2011 Lane Bearden Award

image Alabama nose guard Josh Chapman played seven games in the 2011 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament AND a torn meniscus cartilage, astonishing football fans around the country.

"Normally I can deal with pain pretty well, but after three days I needed an MRI," Chapman told al.com Crimson Tide beat reporter Izzy Gould. "Dr. (Lyle) Cain said he's never seen a guy that can have a torn ACL and still stay that stable.

"I didn't really want to give up like that. I enjoyed playing. As long as it stayed right, I could play."

Ouch.

I suffered a partially torn ACL during a hurricane recovery effort in 1989. The pain was so bad my 30-day tour of duty was cut short by a week and I could hardly walk. To be Chapman’s size and take the constant battering of SEC offensive linemen on a torn ACL and ripped up knee cartilage is nothing short of amazing.

For this, Chapman has rightfully earned the Lane Bearden Iron Man Award.

Bama fans have a special place in their hearts for the legendary Alabama punter, who suffered a torn knee ligament in his kicking leg during a fake punt against Arkansas on September 28, 2002. image Instead of sitting out for the remainder of the season and undergoing rehab, Bearden’s physicians fitted him with a brace and he played out the 2002 season.

“The doctors told me that if I could handle the pain, I could do it.”

His bravery and toughness inspired the team.

"They told me when I came back that they were going to play as hard as they ever played," he said. "And as long as I got the ball out, (oppnents) wouldn't return it and there wouldn't be a punt blocked.

"So far, it's worked pretty good, so I'm just going to keep going."

Thirteen years after suffering a similar injury and being absolutely miserable during the months-long rehab, when I watched Bearden hobble jogging I didn’t think I’d see anyone with the toughness and mental strength to overcome that much pain and take the field.

While Bearden usually only played at most five plays in a game, swinging his injured leg in a kicking motion and making forceful impact on the ball had to be like a hot knife in the knee.

Chapman played almost every snap. That’s not just tough. That’s Lane Bearden tough.

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1 comments:

Uabamafan said...

David Smith (QB on the 88 team) was even gutsier but doesn't get the credit he deserves. He tore his ACL in practice during the first part of the season, and instead of getting surgery and ending his career, he opted to tape his knee up as much as he could and kept playing. He missed a couple of games (Jeff Dunn filled in) but came back and played decent. He had 400+ yards passing in the Sun Bowl (his last game). That's guts...

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