Forgive me for going all broken record on you, but I need to justify my fears right now. History tends to repeat itself, right? Every history teacher will tell you that, and lots of people who paid attention in one history class will also say it.
So I find my mind drifting to a time in the past, to a freakishly athletic Cleveland sports star who was rising to the ranks of being a nationally recognized megastar. He had the ideal body, all the tools, said the right things, had passionate fans, and had a slight, kind of nagging injury. Fast forward five years, and Grady Sizemore has barely played baseball since. Not satisfied? How about keeping the exact same lead-in sentence, then changing the “Grady Sizemore” part to say “Travis Hafner?” Is that better?
I know, they’re both baseball players and the Cleveland Indians have a habit of being a disappointment recently (60 years or so). But if you want to look at it similarly, can you think of a time when the Browns had a big, strong running back who was verging on NFL stardom? A guy who seemed indestructible? A guy who looked like he was as strong as a house and as fast as the sports car in the driveway? A guy who could literally run people over and keep right on truckin’? Strain your memories…it was Peyton Hillis, obviously. A nagging quasi-injury led to more nagging quasi-injuries, leading to a terrible season and his signing in Kansas City.
For Trent Richardson, he has no history with the Browns. He has no history in the NFL, nor does he have a history of injuries or even being banged up (it’s hard to bang up a guy who appears to be made of steel). My problem with that is the old expression of “If it seems too good to be true, it is.”
I say this a lot in this column space, but I’m saying it again. I desperately want to be wrong on this one. I want Richardson to come back at full strength by Week One. I want him to be the wrecking ball, shape-shifting, freak athlete that he currently is. I want him to run over, around, and through defenders on a weekly basis. I want him to bench press an entire opposing team on his way to the end zone. I’m just genuinely terrified that it won’t be happening as soon as I want it.
You might be saying “But the surgery went fine.” Well, yeah. Have you ever heard of an athlete who had surgery and the immediate response was “Nope. We screwed that up big time. He’s never walking again?” That doesn’t happen. Even when it’s Peyton Manning’s neck, it takes several months to find out that there’s been a problem.
I used to be in the camp of not worrying about it and hoping a player takes an extra week off, just so he’s fully healed when he comes back. I still think that’s always the best option. Be extremely careful – this is a potential franchise player. I don’t want to see chances being taken on the guy whose backups hardly anyone can name.
Players get hurt all the time. It seems like it happens to the Browns in particularly painful fashion. I know that doesn’t make sense and I’m sure statistics would not back it up, so don’t bother. But it’s a bummer, and I’m used to it. There’s no other way to say it. I want Trent Richardson to be perfectly healthy, and he’s already not perfectly healthy. That scares me to death.