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Thread: Timmerman has beaten the odds
Timmerman has beaten the odds
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Adam Timmerman realizes that he's already beaten the odds. Many times over.
In a profession in which the average career lasts less than four years, Timmerman is preparing for his 11th NFL season.
He has played four seasons for Green Bay and the last six for the Rams. Timmerman, a guard, has played in four Super Bowls, made two Pro Bowls, earned millions of dollars and will qualify for a hefty pension.
Not bad for a seventh-round draft choice from South Dakota State who grew up in tiny Cherokee, Iowa.
Moreover, Timmerman has remained remarkably injury-free, particularly for an offensive lineman. He has a streak of 157 regular-season starts.
Still, Timmerman can't help but wonder if time, and the pounding of the NFL, finally is catching up to him. He needed just two minor surgeries during his first 10 years, arthroscopic procedures on an elbow and a knee. But Timmerman, who will turn 34 in August, needed three operations after last season: both shoulders and a foot.
"It's weird," he said.
He declined knee surgery.
"I feel a little something in there," he said. "But I really didn't want to have one more (surgery)."
Taking it easy
So instead of pumping iron and pounding roads to keep his conditioning up, Timmerman is focusing on rehabbing his 6-foot-4, 310-pound body.
"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "I'm starting to do most of the stuff I was doing before. Not quite as heavy as far as the weights. And then cardio-wise, mostly walking and (using) the elliptical (machine), stuff like that. But it's not anything high-impact yet. ... I'm hoping next week they'll cut me loose and I can start jogging."
Timmerman won't participate in the full-squad minicamp June 3-5. His goal is to be on the Rams Park fields when two-a-day practices begin in late July.
"That's kind of what we're shooting for, to be reasonably ready to do football stuff when it comes time for training camp," Timmerman said. "My foot doctor is kind of like, 'Well, we'd like to maybe just make that one-a-days. We don't want to pound on it right away.' So it might be kind of phasing in at training camp, which would be OK, too."
While Timmerman's immediate objective is clear, to be in shape to make his 158th start in a row on Sept. 11 in San Francisco, his long-term outlook is murkier. He conceded that the recent spate of surgeries has heightened his concern about the effects of slamming into 300-pound opponents some 70 times per game over more than a decade and how that will affect him in the future.
"I thought about stuff like that more this year than ever," he said. "I really hadn't considered it. I was thinking to myself all along, 'Hey, if I blow out a knee or something, my career would be over.' But I never really saw far enough ahead to think that things are just going to wear out. And I'm definitely starting to see some of that go on."
Injuries last a lifetime
A study of the first 50 years of the NFL, commissioned by the players association and conducted by Ball State University, surveyed 870 former players and found that 65 percent had suffered an injury that required surgery and/or caused them to miss at least half a season. It also detailed the lengthy list of chronic problems affecting retired players. There are mounds of anecdotal evidence.
Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, who died in 2002 at age 69, had both knees replaced, which limited his physical activity to golf. But before every shot, Unitas used his left hand to close the fingers of his right hand around the club and then strap down the hand. Nerve damage had left him with significant loss of strength and feeling in the hand and fingers.
Offensive lineman Curt Marsh, a first-round draft pick by Oakland in 1981, has had nearly two dozen operations. In 1994, after his 13th ankle surgery, his right leg had to be amputated 8 inches below the knee so that he could attain as much mobility as possible.
Because of severe back pain, former Redskins lineman Joe Jacoby, only 46, normally wears loafers and no socks.
"It's too painful for him to bend over and put on socks or lace up shoes," explained his wife, Irene.
When sitting, former Vikings defensive back Paul Krause, who retired in 1977, must change positions about every five minutes because of his aching back. And he can barely turn his neck from side to side.
"Getting up in the morning is just terrible," Krause told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Former Dolphins defensive end Bill Stanfill has four fused disks in his back, two new hips and estimates that he's "probably 65 percent disabled." Stanfill, just 58, must use a walker to get around.
"If you go to a retired players' convention, there are older retirees who walk around like Maryland crabs," Miki Yaras-Davis, director of benefits for the players association, said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. "It's an orthopedic surgeon's dream. I'm surprised the doctors aren't standing outside the door handing out their cards. ... Everybody comes out of pro football with some injury. It's only the degree that separates them."
It's a frightening prognosis, Timmerman acknowledged.
"I wish you could just look into a crystal ball and know how much this stuff's going to affect you when you're 50 years old," he said. "I want to be able to at least coach my son or something like that.
"You don't want to leave with nothing left."
Re: Timmerman has beaten the odds
Man, the last half of that is EYE opening. While I knew of the career expectancies, and have seen/heard of some of the injuries to those that got pounded, I never knew about Johnny U and his right hand...
Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, who died in 2002 at age 69, had both knees replaced, which limited his physical activity to golf. But before every shot, Unitas used his left hand to close the fingers of his right hand around the club and then strap down the hand. Nerve damage had left him with significant loss of strength and feeling in the hand and fingers.This space for rent...
-05-13-2005 #3general counsel Guest
Re: Timmerman has beaten the odds
Hopefully, the fact that these guys make the money that they do today will enable some of them to walk away from the game at a point when they can still walk at age 50. Peyton Manning got more in one bonus than johnny U made in his entire career.
Re: Timmerman has beaten the oddsOriginally Posted by general counsel
Re: Timmerman has beaten the odds
Adam Timmerman, hang in there my friend!
It is no surprise why, for many years, certain professional sports are viewed philosophically more than others: boxing, american football, hockey, car racing.
The examples given in this article of NFL players permanently hurting or even handicapped for life are just a scratching of the surface. It is truly amazing how some are able to live on and be relatively free of pain and scars.
Such is the spectacle, ey? :upset:
I'm only glad that technology -- and experience -- has provided far more physical protection and insurance as well as pensions for the players of today.