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."
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. 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.