I was watching this clip Friday of Adam Schefter talking about the timetable for New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks' return from the surgery he just had to repair the broken bone in his foot, and I was struck by Adam's reference to Nicks' past history of foot and leg injuries. He's right, of course. Nicks has missed a total of six games due to injury over his first three NFL seasons, and while that's not a huge total by any means, it raises the issue of whether or not Nicks is a player who deserves the "injury-prone" tag. You know, a guy who just seems to get hurt every year? A guy to whom even freak-accident injuries seem to happen in addition to the normal muscle pulls and other "soft-tissue stuff," as Tom Coughlin calls it?
You guys all know how much of a Nicks fan I am. We had an expression in my old baseball days -- a complimentary one, and I often think of it with regard to Nicks: "He should be more people's favorite player." He's an incredible athlete with do-it-all ability, and he augments that with a top-level work ethic and rigorous attention to the critical details of his craft. He believes he should always be at work on the tiniest details that go into playing the position of wide receiver, and it shows up on the field when he creates separation, runs a perfect route and routinely locates the ball in traffic before the defender does.
But it's not unfair at this point to call the guy injury-prone. It's just not. He's had some kind of physical issue that has cost him some time every year since he entered the league. He's played through pain and injuries and performed well in spite of them, and that's admirable. And labeling a guy as injury-prone doesn't mean he isn't great or can't continue to be. But this is something to watch with Nicks as his future unfolds and things like new contracts start to come up. Playing 16 games in an NFL season isn't easy, but if you never do it, that's something that's going to raise questions about you. Nicks may yet play all 16 this year, but the first one is already in some degree of doubt, and I'm sure he'd love for that kind of doubt to quit being a part of his life.