Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile by Nate Jackson:
The shot gets me back on the field but I’m a shadow of my former self. It’s hard to watch myself on film. I’m slower than everyone else. My “mild hamstring strain” won’t heal. Ice here, heat there, stretch here, rub there, inject here, pills there: nothing is helping. NFL athletes are so fast and explosive, that if you’re not at your best, you are vulnerable on the field. It’s a dangerous place to be a gimp. Desperate to get healthy, I spend more and more time at an off-site chiropractor’s office. Rod introduced me to Dr. Nelson Vetanze a few years prior, and I’ve been going to him for periodic adjustments. He’s worked with the Broncos in the past but had a falling-out with Greek over treatment philosophies. Now Nelson sees some of us in his private practice. Greek knows we see him but as long as we don’t talk about it, it’s not a problem. Nelson has a more holistic approach than the assembly-line philosophy used in the NFL. When I tell Nelson what they are telling me at work, he can’t believe it. He knows it’s not a “mild hamstring strain” but there’s nothing any of us can do about it, Greek included. The only thing that would help isn’t an option: rest.
But I learn to deal with the pain, the instability, the imbalance; just like every other NFL player does. My story is not unique. Every other football-playing man deals with the same cycle of injury and rehab, separated by periods of relative health. Some bodies are better suited for the demands of the game than others. They stay healthy longer, play more, smash skulls more, die younger. I should see my inability to stay healthy as a blessing in the long run, because it’s sparing my brain the extra punishment. The fact is, no one will remember any NFL game I’ll ever play in but me.