Chad Jones had hoped to be on the field for the New York Giants for their rookie minicamp this past weekend, but he wasn't cleared by doctors to participate. In fact, the momentum of Jones' attempt to return to the football field and play in the NFL appears to have slowed significantly, as the Giants announced Monday that he has been waived/failed physical. As Mike Garafolo points out, this isn't like last year, when the Giants waived Jones with the intention of putting him on the reserve list. This time, Jones is actually set free on the market, so any team could technically pick him up.
However, the turn the story took today serves as a reminder that it's not so simple in Jones' case. There exists the very real probability that the young man will not, actually, be able to play football again. And if he ever is, that time does not appear to be soon:
"Chad had a severe injury to his left leg, involving a complex tibial fracture with associated injury to muscle, nerves, and vascular structures," said Scott Rodeo, a Giants associate team physician, in a statement released by the club. "This type of injury is often limb threatening, and can sometimes require amputation. He has made a remarkable recovery to date, with successful salvage of the leg. However, at this time he has residual sensory loss, muscle weakness, and tenuous soft tissue coverage in the involved lower leg. The resultant functional impairment precludes his ability to perform physically at the level required for professional football."
In other words, this isn't like coming back from a torn ACL or a blown Achilles' tendon. The injuries Jones suffered in that car accident two years ago were incredibly severe, and it's no small feat that he's actually up and moving around. The Giants, a classy organization, have said they will continue to work with Jones on his rehab. And if he does ever play in the NFL, you'd have to think it'd be with the team that's invested so much time in him since drafting him in the third round in 2010. But consider this quote from Giants GM Jerry Reese in today's press release:
"We consider Chad to be part of the Giants family, and we'll continue to work with him in his rehab," general manager Jerry Reese said. "As we've said since his accident, we're thankful he is alive and able to lead a normal life."
Perspective is a rare thing in the coverage and analysis of NFL football today, and anyone who projects anything out from the Jones story (such as asking whether his team will or should sign him, for example) would do well to remember the part of that quote in which Reese says "thankful he's alive." Jones is in fact lucky to be alive, ambulatory and in possession of both of his legs, and anything else will be a bonus. If he plays NFL football, it'll be a wonderful ending to the story. But even if he doesn't, the ending to his story could have been much, much worse.