There has been a great deal of scrutiny from numerous media outlets and former players concerning the decision to play Deshaun Watson with a torn ACL against South Carolina. Some question the morals and integrity of the coaches and training staff posing questions such as: “Is the game that important to go and ruin a career?” or “My question is years later when this kid is walking bone on bone where is the University going to be?????.”
The one thing that these people have totally failed to recognize is the fact that there was a mutual decision as whether he would play. In life period and especially this day in age, no one forces you to do anything that you don’t want to do. You get wise counsel and you make with it what you want. If you’ve seen Deshaun play this season, you can see how special of a player he is and will continue to be, the life that comes to the team, and the calmness that he brings to fans and players alike. The decision to play with a torn ligament can be stressful at times and I’ve been in a very similar situation.
Throughout my football career, it has always been about winning contrary to what most people say. The fun is always in the winning. During the third game of my senior year at Phoebus High School in Virginia, I dropped back to pass and broke containment, made it about 5 yards down the field, tried to do a juke move and just felt my knee pop like a rubber band. I remember putting tape around my knee and finished the game out with every wrong movement punishing me because of the discomfort in my knee. I had learned later on the next day that my ACL was torn and in the back of my mind I thought that my season was over. I sat out of the first week of practice every day going from school back to my house bored out of my mind.
Going to watch practice was painful and brought tears to my eyes because I felt like I was letting my team down. The way I saw it was that we went to the state semis the year before and suffered a heart breaking loss. The whole summer was dedicated to working as hard as possible and winning a state championship and now an ACL tear jeopardized the goals that were set. I sat down with my coach and a few other people to determine what I could do to get back on the field. They told me I could put a knee brace on and see how I felt, but I would be limited to mainly straight ahead movements. There were no second thoughts after that I was just excited to get back on the field.
Tough times came as at moments there was excruciating pain from getting tackled or just the knee giving out on me in general, but every win made it all worth it. We went on to win the state championship and I had surgery after the Army All American game in January and the rehab process then commenced. The rehab is much more difficult than the actual tear itself. It breaks you down mentally as well as physically, and it took time to regain the confidence to play with the recklessness that we all do sometimes.
Deshaun went out there and played because he knew what it meant to those seniors and his team, and ultimately, he played to win the game. The moment he put on those pads the confidence was there and that was all his team needed. Now there’s the dilemma about whether he plays in this bowl game or not. Over the past few years we’ve had some major wins over prestigious programs and Oklahoma could be another one added to the resume! This team has had an unbelievable season and can end it on a high note heading into the off season. The question now is how early does his off season begin, but the answer to that question is up to him. If he has the surgery now, the recovery time will be cut down and he’ll be ready to go by the time summer workouts roll around. If he waits it is delayed and we don’t know what will happen, but I do know he’ll make the best decision for him and his future.
“Trust your instincts, and make judgements on what your heart tells you. The heart will not betray you.” – David Gemmell