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Pierson Prioleau talks about his injury

At The Official Site in the Health and Wellness section (which I hadn't even heard of, and it looks awesome!) a piece by Pierson Prioleau just went up. Go read it here. Right now. There is absolutely no reason not to, and nothing I say here should substitute for appraising it directly.

I also want to say that I am enormously impressed with Pierson Prioleau and really look forward to seeing him on the field in '07. What happened to him was tragic and unfortunate and drastically altered our 2006 season.

I'm coming out of the tunnel at FedExField, and what a sight. It's Monday Night Football, our season opener for 2006.

All pre-game, I'm thinking, 'What are the Vikings going to do on their first play from scrimmage? What's Brad Johnson going to do?' And then came the sequence that I've replayed in my mind every day since: I'm running down the field on the opening kickoff, I see a guy coming to block me, and then...POP. That's the sound I heard from my right knee as my foot seemed to get stuck in the ground.

My entire season was over--after just about 10 steps.

The vast majority of physical injuries suffered in a Football game can be fixed thanks to the magic of modern medicine, including Prioleau's knee. What is often spoken of as more detrimental in the long term is how a player responds to an injury mentally. It takes an enormous amount of courage to place the necessary pressure on a knee you injured merely while running down the field.

When one of your players goes down for the season, the immediate question is whether they have the mental courage to aggressively rehabilitate. How much does a Pierson Prioleau want to return on the field? Can he do so in time to help this team win football games?

From mid-October on, I was a regular at Redskins Park. I rehabbed Monday through Friday, and Saturdays before home games. I never missed a rehab session. It does get frustrating at times, but you have to find a way to press on. By December, I started jogging a little bit...

Even though I was injured, I wanted to be around the team and be considered a part of the team, but at the same time I didn't want to get in the way.

My goal has always been to be back by mini-camps and OTA workouts in the spring.

Check one. Check two is whether or not Pierson can get back on the field and play at the level that has made him a presence in the NFL for the last 8 years. Putting myself in his position, how could I possibly view kickoffs the same? Once you've experienced a non-contact injury, wouldn't the tendency be to presume that every jogging or running step on a field could end your season? It takes enormous mental courage to play physically knowing that; after having experienced what he did.

I don't know how Prioleau will play in '07 though I wish him the best. We sorely missed his coverage skills and leadership on last year's dismal defense, which was especially bad against opposing QBs. At the very least, though, Pierson appears willing to talk the talk:

Overall, it's like this: You can't let an injury take control of you.
It certainly took over our season. I hope we take back control next year.