We have known now for several months that Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Sean Spence did damage to his peroneal nerve when he tore up his knee last year in the preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. Despite the long odds, however, Spence said on Wednesday that he intends on playing in 2013.
"I know a lot of people have not been able to come back after damage like that, but I\'m going to see if I can be one of the only ones," Spence said. "Actually, I know that I\'m going to beat the odds. I\'m not really worried about that."
In a Thursday article by Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and director of Medical University of South Carolina sports medicine, is quoted as saying that very few players, if any, who have suffered damage to their peroneal nerve make it back.
“I probably do four of five knee dislocation surgeries a year, and the ones who have peroneal nerve injuries I have never seen one come back,” Geier said via the Kaboly report. “I can\'t think of any who have been documented to have a peroneal nerve injury and returned. For me, I would just be trying to have a normal life, but playing at an elite level after something like this is difficult.”
While Geier might not know if any players that have made it back from a serious peroneal nerve injury, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out Thursday in his article that University of Pittsburgh linebacker Dan Mason has done it.
As fate would have it, Spence witnessed Mason tear up his knee in the Sept. 23, 2010 game against the Miami Hurricanes. The Pittsburgh linebacker ultimately needed five surgeries and two years of rehab, but he returned to the field this past September. In fact, in his first game back as a starter on Oct. 20, against Buffalo, Mason recorded 11 total tackles and one sack. The following week against Temple he recorded another 10 total tackles, but unfortunately suffered a lacerated liver that ended his season.
While I don\'t know for sure, it would be hard to believe that Spence hasn\'t talked to Mason since suffering his injury. Assuming he has, at least he has a someone nearby that has accomplished what he\'s trying to accomplish and that has to be worth something.
The Steelers have made it known that they are committed to keeping Spence through the 2013 season, so the worst thing that the young linebacker can do right now is rush himself back. Spence, however, somewhat addressed those concerns on Wednesday.
"You do want to play it safe, in a situation like this, but at the same time if I\'m good enough to go, I\'m gonna go," he said. "I probably will take things slow, but I have trust myself in doing what I know I can do. And if I think I can go, I\'ll go."
Below is a video replay of the Mason injury, and you should already be aware of the fact that it\'s not pretty.