It’s time to look back to last summer when Childs was having a great training camp, when the football Gods struck him down with a ruptured both patellar tendons in his knees on the same play. Nobody has ever returned to NFL play following such an injury, but Childs is set on becoming the first.
The Vikings are moving forward as if Childs won’t be a part of their future. It’s hard to blame them on this one. By taking this stance, they place the responsibility of making it back directly on the 2nd year player. In the team’s eyes, if Childs is able to accomplish the unlikely and play again, it will be like adding a bonus player to the roster.
Let’s give credit where it’s due. After all, Childs could have pouted and felt sorry for himself. He could have lamented his misfortune and given up. But instead he attacked his rehabilitation with the firm conviction of a person refusing to make excuses who simply will not accept that his gridiron life could be over. In doing so, he has become the poster child for what is right about the NFL. A role model if there ever was one. If the odds devour him and football turns out to not be in the cards for Childs, he’ll be successful in whatever else he wants to do.
By all accounts, though, Childs has worked incredibly hard during rehab and remains committed to becoming the first player to play in a game after such a devastating injury. Trainer Eric Sugarman said Childs never blinked when he heard the long odds against a comeback and Childs hopes he winds up as an inspiration to future players recovering from career-altering injuries.
In truth, Greg Childs isn’t going to be the NFL’s MVP in 2013, but he could be shaping up as the sequel to A.P and/or Michael Mauti when it comes to medical miracles.
In an environment where injuries are as common as Packer fans are toothless, few are as catastrophic as the one Childs endured last August when he tore both his patellar tendons after elevating for a pass and landing awkwardly during Vikings training camp.
This was not his first Patellar injury, but it was by far his worst. Just a few seasons ago, Childs was shaping up as a potential first- or second-round draft choice due to his production at Arkansas. Scouts raved about him after his sophomore season when he led team with 48 receptions for 894 yards and seven touchdowns.
Childs continued to impress as a junior in 2010, hauling in 46 receptions for 659 yards and six touchdowns before suffering his first season-ending patellar tendon injury in his right knee. By the time he returned to the lineup in 2011, he had not yet recovered the lost step that caused NFL GM’s to downgrade him and he eventually slid to the fourth round into the welcome arms of Rick Spielman who of selected him with the 134th overall slot in the 4th round.
Was it a gamble? Perhaps, but not a huge risk considering where he was taken. The Vikings needed a vertical threat and Childs checked in at 6-foot-3 and nearly 220 pounds with 4.49 speed in the 40. That, coupled with elite leaping ability which enabled him to high-point the football, making him a nightmare for defensive coordinators in the red zone. The Vikings felt that Childs still had a first-round ceiling.
But that changed when Greg Childs collapsed on the turf in Mankato.
In a recent article, NFL Editor John McMullen wrote an excellent piece about Child’s journey. In the story, McMullen spoke to Dr. Ben Wedro, an expert in exercise physiology and athletic injuries who has worked as a medical consultant for Olympians as well as World Cup athletes.
When asked if the first Patellar tear made Childs more susceptible to the latest injury? Wedro disagreed. ”It’s unlikely” said Wedro. “A well-reconstructed patellar tendon repair should not be at risk, unless the player returns too quickly to play,” Wedro explained. “This was not the case for Childs, since there was significant time between (his first) surgery and the second injury”.
The article goes on to say: “Bilateral patellar tendon rupture is exceedingly rare, especially in an otherwise healthy athlete,” Wedro continues “Causes more often include the presence of Systemic diseases such as kidney failure, systemic lupus erythematosis, rheumatoid arthritis and hyperparathyroidism, not illnesses that usually afflict NFL players.”
Childs double tendon surgery was performed by Vikings team physician Joel Boyd. Boyd re-attached and tightened up the tendons; something that wasn’t done in the first surgical procedure back in Arkansas.
So far the results have been positive. In recent workouts, Childs has been observed planting and cutting with no obvious signs of caution or discomfort, he even finished things by rising up and dunking the football over the crossbar before leaving the field. Looks like he still has ups!
“I’ve been cutting like that for a good little while now,” Childs told the assembled media. “I’m taking it day by day. I feel good, but, at the same time, the Minnesota Vikings aren’t rushing me. That’s why I’m doing so well now.”
According to Wedro, a rehab timetable on the return of quadriceps bulk and strength usually is delayed with this type of injury, and the return to premorbid athletic activities should take approximately nine to 12 months. In this case, It’s been just over 10 months since Childs suffered the injury.
“To return to full function and sports specific rehab, the quadriceps muscle has to be near full strength and the knee has to have full range of motion,” Wedro said.
Childs believes he’s very close to reaching that point in his latest rehab stint. “There’s nothing I can’t do right now. I could do everything I was doing before, better than I was doing before, right now,” Childs said. “But it’s just not rushing it. They’ve been telling me to pump the brakes. We’ve been sticking to our plan.”
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said via Dan Wiederer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “(We’re) waiting on (trainer) Eric Sugarman and our medical staff to give us the green light. We’ll see what happens. I’m not sure what direction it will go.”
The odds remain long. Only two other NFL players have had similar injuries in recent years and neither was able to return; Wendell Davis of the Chicago Bears in 1993 and Gary Baxter of the Cleveland Browns in 2006.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” Childs said. “I definitely feel good”.
So far, the Vikings feel the same way.
*** Below is a link to another terrific article on the science involved in the actual injury and repair of Greg Childs Patellar injury written by
Arif Hasan, writer at The Daily Norseman.