You always love the ones you hurt
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

"Being hurt is not the same as being injured."
No, it isn't. Being hurt is far more hazardous
to your health than being injured.

-- R-Dub's NFL Proverb No. 89

Tommy Maddox
Tommy Maddox gives us a painful lesson about spinal cord concussions.
A sample of the weekly NFL injury list, taken from two opposing teams. Each word represents one player, and possibly one career:


If H.P. Lovecraft was on the NFL beat, he'd be hyperventilating. If there was a living Victor Frankenstein around, whom do you think he'd be the team physician for? We assume he'd work in the NFL, but where in the NFL? What? Which? Who said Jacksonville?

And what do we mean, being hurt is as bad -- or worse -- than being injured? Well, two big injuries occurred Sunday. Donnie McNabb got an ankle broken (injured) then played anyway (hurt) an entire game, and won. Unless his ankle heals wrong. In that case, he lost. He can wear a cast, which is what normal people do while bones knit and heal, or he can have surgery, which is what hurt players the franchise needs to get back in a hurry do. Either way, he'll be out six weeks. They say eight, but injured NFLers always beat even incredibly optimistic healing projections (who makes them, Lovecraft or Frankenstein?), and comes back early to ... play hurt.

Tommy Maddox's issues are even more serious. In the first place, if he hadn't been hurt when covered by Titan LB Keith Bulluck, you'd have thought, "Maddox is lucky, Bulluck just missed him."

Only Maddox didn't get up at all. "Spinal cord concussion." We never heard of one before. Add another exotic to the list.

Of course, the greatest shock, when it happens to you, is that they don't stop the League until you fully recover. It never occurs to you that the League will go on without you, and, in fact, without missing a beat. When a James Mungro comes in and rips off 100 yards against a contender on the road, the people on the sideline aren't as attentive to you anymore, if you're Edgy James. So you come back the very next week, but you aren't ready. It would be better in this case to be outright injured, just wait and heal, and come back only when you are as near as you can come to the original Edge (he'll never quite be the original Edge again).

Edgerrin James
Edgerrin James was back for one week at least.
Want the original Edge back? Then let him be injured, not hurt. Let him go heal, stay out of pads, in various rehab bays, try to come back stronger (never faster from a knee injury) in 2003.

Also, have him read (if he can) the Week 11 Slightly Censored (don't talk to me, talk to the Mouse's hand) Thoughts of the NFL Stars in the rehab pool. Maybe he'll pick up an Edge he can use:

Mike Martz, coach, St. Louis Rams -- "No, I am not trying to be professorial, you pencil-pushing peons. I am professorial. You didn't mind when Walsh came off like this. No one understands me ... Bulger, Warner, Warner, Bulger ... no question. Kurt is my creation. Mine. Bulger doesn't know how hard it is yet, or how it relates to his feelings for his mother ... Kurt is kind of insecure. Needs stroking. Genius never turns off. It burns, oh how it burns."

Dick Jauron, coach, Chicago Bears -- "In the meantime, I hope to write a book: 'My Losing Season: Champaign Style.' I hope to go to the Yale Club without a shirt and tie and have a couple of pops. I hope to buy stock in orthopedic surgeons ... I hope to end this %#@&$!* losing streak before the next solar eclipse ... I hope ..."

Tommy Maddox, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers -- "What? A spinal cord concussion? I don't want to act scared, but not being able to feel or move your legs is scary. Hospitals are scary too. Hospitals are, like, a good place to die They all act like you're not supposed to make it out of here, like they can't wait for another specimen for pathology. Oh, I feel needles in my legs. Whoopee. Yay! I'm glad to feel pain? Yes! I'm glad to feel anything at that point. Thank you, God. Hines said what? Guess what? I don't give a s%@#!"

Keith Bulluck, LB, Tennessee Titans -- "Jesus, I don't want a guy being paralyzed on my conscience. That's why it's best not to have one. Jesus, could you put my conscience in the attic for a while?"

Koy Detmer
Koy Detmer better eat his Chunky Soup.
Koy Detmer, QB, Philadelphia Eagles -- "No, for the 10 millionth time, I'm not Donovan McNabb. But you will learn to fear me."

Adrian Wilson, DB, Arizona Cardinals -- "I didn't try to break McNabb's ankle, but that's the most face time I ever got. Maybe I can go free agent now ... get outta Dodge some kinda way. This is a Football Player Graveyard. Bleached bones everywhere. Coyotes killing livestock at night play before bigger crowds than we do."

Brian Griese, QB, Denver Broncos -- "Don't do that! That hurts!"

Mike Holmgren, coach, Seattle Seahawks -- "What do I have to do? Stay friends with Paul Allen? Hey, good idea. Who said that?"

David Carr, QB, Houston Texans -- "The season's not over yet ?! When then? Is it ever over? Or is this The 'Twilight Zone'?"

Fernando Bryant, DB, Jacksonville Jaguars -- "I knocked myself out? I did? Wonder if Gene Washington's going to fine me for knocking myself out? What are those spots before my eyes?"

Emmitt Smith
With no record to run for, Emmitt Smith weighs his options.
Emmitt Smith, RB, Dallas Cowboys -- "Jerry Jones and Dave Campo don't owe me anything. Except respect. And 6 mil, if I can somehow come back next year for just one more go-round. Just one. They wouldn't chop me off at the knees for 6 mil. Would they? Better to ask why wouldn't they? Will T-bills hold value better than real estate? Better enjoy ALF while I got him. Me, Bradshaw, and ALF. Hmm. Forgive me if I try to keep going here."

Edgerrin James, RB, Indianapolis Colts -- "Who-gro? Mungro?"

Trent Green, QB, Kansas City Chiefs -- (scrambling 9 yards for game-winning TD) ... "I can get there ... gonna get pounded but it's for the game ... unh! I'm in there. Am I in there? ... in there. Holy crap, that hurts. Are my parts still attached? Help me off the field, No. 62. What's his name again? Nice guy. (Later that evening) That shot on Maddox ... same shot they had at me. Can't think about it. Need a Kansas City sedative: a steak and a Scotch."

Drew Bledsoe, QB, Buffalo Bills -- "Maddox, McNabb ... must be getting busted up in alphabetical order this year ... welcome to the busted-up club, guys ... hope you don't lose your jobs and teams behind it. I did. I still feel that Mo Lewis hit, and that was more than a year ago ... on Monday, my body feels like a spazzed-out rag doll in a bowl of Rice Krispies, drenched in gas, then lit by a match. "

Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers -- "We lost indoors. So I don't like playing on pool tables. So sue me. What have we got, a four-game lead in the division? Ooo yeah, coach, it'll bother me all night that we lost this game. Shoulda clocked Hovan. Little turd. Big night out in Green Bay? Buying two DVDs. Which DVDs should I get? Besides 'There's Something About Mary.' Ashley Judd dancing in a thong works for me. 'X-Men' is cool. I coulda been a better Wolverine than your boy, though. Cameron Diaz said to get 'Being John Mellencamp.' I didn't find it. Think I'll call her. (later) Pick up, Cameron. I'm willing you to pick up. (later) Come to think, she said Malkovick, not Mellencamp. But Malkovick's at Arizona. Gettin' run outta there, too. Having them boys putting him up on their shoulders, just to keep their scholarships. People don't know half the crap that goes on in football ... and thank God for it."

Daunte Culpepper
The incentive of warmer weather got Daunte Culpepper fired up.
Daunte Culpepper, QB, Minnesota Vikings -- "I miss Florida. I am so there ... Rooster McComb will trade my salary. Hey, Dolphins, Troy Aikman, instead of me? What year you living in? 1994?"

Jeremy Shockey, TE, New York Giants -- "Gimme the damn ball! Gimme the damn ... oh, OK, you just did. Kyle Turley and I are thinking about starting a band. Gonna call ourselves 'Bile.' Either that, or 'Enraged Blond Woolly Mammoths.' Probably 'Bile.'"

Steve Spurrier, coach, Washington Redskins -- "Hey, give me Ike Bruce, 'n a Holt 'n a Ricky Pro-ell 'n a Marshall, a Orlanda Pace. Let's see how smart I am then ... I'd play Bull-grr. I know that."

Michael Vick
Michael Vick doesn't want to do it all for the Falcons.
Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta Falcons -- "The way coach Reeves looks at me sometimes ... can't tell if he likes me or if he wants to shoot me ... it's kinda funny ... but it ain't ... sometimes he calls me 'John' by mistake ... and now they got me doing telemarketing too. What else do I have to do? Sell nacho baskets between snaps?"

Kyle Turley, OL, New Orleans Saints -- "Nobody gives me the credit for being The Guy who started the trend of ripping off helmets and tossing them like it was the Olympic discus. Why? Because I play in this little armpit market, that's why ... but I'm attaching myself to Shockey. We're forming this band called ..."

Dennis Northcutt, WR, Cleveland Browns -- "Me? Sweeeeee-et!"

Corey Dillon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals -- "One ... is the loneliest number that you ever knew ... guess I'm wearing adidas ... two can be as bad as one ... especially if they're Cincinnati Bengals."

Wesley Walls, TE, Carolina Panthers -- "Haven't played guitar in the end zone for a long time now ... wonder if Turley and Shockey can use a vocalist? Used to be fun, playing. Now? Body breaking down ... 14 years of this s$%# ... can't believe I'm still out here. Between me and Rodney, we're playing with 18 dings. Apiece."

Keyshawn Johnson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- "That's five TDs this year. You damn skippy, I'm counting. Damn Ronde, is that your thumb? Looks like hamburger meat with a nail on it. Get that thing away from me before I pass out. I give best running commentary in the en-tire league. Make John Randle sound like he's wearing a gag. Hear me on Game Day? Oughta wire me every week. I'd put the Fox guys outta work so fast ... the ones who say I'm slow, that I'm a possession receiver. Possess this. Possess up on this here."

Jose Cortez
Jose Cortez can't look anyone in the eyes.
Jose Cortez, K, San Francisco 49ers -- "I'm gone. I am so gone. I know it. I can tell by the way everybody doesn't look at me ... avert their eyes ... and by the way coach Mooch keeps laughing to himself and shaking his head whenever he says my name. I can tell mostly because T.O. cut up all of my clothes ... but, I am not an animal."

Drew Brees, QB, San Diego Chargers -- "Marty said, 'Stick with me, kid, and I'll make you star.' Actually, I'll make him one."

Ricky Williams, RB, Miami Dolphins -- "Why do people say I sound like Prince? I do not. I like Prince. He wows me. Master P is played out. Not as an agent. As an artist. I'm into Eminem now. But I'd fight Jamie Foxx over Prince. But not LL. LL is all buff now. Probably thinks he can kick ass. Believed he was a football player in 'Any Given Sunday.' LL, you'd get your ass tore all up. Stick with licking your lips and trying to look stern. I'd have done a better job in 'Deep Blue Sea' than you'd do out here. You'd die out here, LL. I don't mean in a Hollywood box-office sense. LL -- take me with you, LL. I didn't mean it. None of it. You da man, LL. Unless Prince is around. Then he's the man. A very feminine, attractive, sweet, and strangely arousing man ... uh-oh. The cops."

Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens -- "My shoulder hurts. But I kind of like it. Hurting is my friend. Here, Ricky Williams. Have some. I'm going to make you my bitch. This is how. Pain. Well, not my primary bitch. That's Sweet Mama Eddie. But you gon' be my sometime bitch. Come back here, Ricky, you fine thang, you."

Az-Zahir Hakim
Az-Zahir Hakim knows Detroit isn't as hip as it used to be.
Az-Zahir Hakim, WR, Detroit Lions -- "I knew the hip was dislocated already, doc. How? OK -- let me pull your leg out of socket. You tell me. Is this the Bo Jackson injury? Am I done? Why did I sign here? What was I thinking of? The attractive gray temples of Matt Millen. Oh, that's right. Money. I forgot."

Curtis Martin, RB, New York Jets -- "How much tread is left on these tires? How many roads must a man walk down? Should I get another hole pierced in my ear? Should I tell Herm he needs a Tic-Tac after that Italian restaurant he always seems to go to before he burns out my nose hairs? Nah. Let him figure it out on his own."

Trace Armstrong, DL, Oakland Raiders -- "Salary drive, playoff overdrive. People said I was mailing it in, I was stealing money. Al knew. Time to die. Not me. Drew Brees. I'll eat his young tail up, with a little lemon, drawn butter. Unless Bresnahan screws it up."

Adam Vinatieri, K, New England Patriots -- "A hero ain't nothing but a place kicker. Especially a place-kicker named ... Vinatieri ... hey, babe, put that AFC Snow Game in the VCR again ... yeah, the looped version ... yeah ... that's it. Right there babe ... ahhhhh ..."

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."



Ralph Wiley Archive

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