Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Posted by on November 6th, 2014  •  0 Comments  • 

It makes you sad when you see it happen.  
 
The old fashioned NFL axiom raises its ugly head every once in awhile “you are one play away from the end of your career.”
 
Never more so true than what just happened in San Francisco, or actually what happened a couple of years ago in Columbia, South Carolina.
 
Marcus Lattimore, bright young running back, left the NFL last night, never launching what many thought would be an impressive pro football career, after flashes of brilliance in college with the Gamecocks.
 
He walked away from the NFL after spending two years trying to rehab from two terrible injuries while at South Carolina.
 
A blazing talent of a running back, with power, speed, cutback abilities, he was cut down in mid-season 2011, tearing two knee ligaments on a running play.  He did all the rehab, came back in 2012, and tore another ligament.
 
His hopes of being a lst round pick dashed, he hung on the draft board in 2013, till later rounds, when the 49ers spent an extra pick on him.  They drafted him for the future, a future that never arrived.
 
He rehabbed all of last year, and came to camp this year with expectations and hopes.  He remained in rehab non stop from when camp opened till last week.
 
The Niners took him off the injury list, activated him to practice, and two days in, the swelling reappeared, the pain returned, and his dreams were dashed.
 
Lattimore is an exceptional individual.  Think of all that rehab time with trainers, starting mid-year 2011, most of 2012, then with NFL specialists all of last year and half of this season, and this becomes the end result after some 33-months in trainers rooms. .
 
He is going back to school, to finish his degree.  Steve Spurrier wants him to become an administrative assistant, maybe coach down road.  He is taken care of financially by a 1.7M insurance policy he took out prior to the injuries.  That and the salary and signing bonuses he got.
 
Many are called to play in the NFL.  A few are chosen to become stars.  And then there are those who get hurt.  You think of Lattimore and it brings flashbacks to Willis McGahee, a Miami Hurricane, who stayed in school an extra year, blew out of a knee and was in constant rehab.  He wound up having a decent career, but never the result many thought when he was blowing by people at “The U.”
 
It is even more remarkable when you think of the great careers heavy duty backs Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton and others have had.
 
The NFL is fast, physical, and dangerous.  Heading back to the Palmetto State, Marcus Lattimore can tell you all about the game he loves, but won’t be able to play any longer.  Hopefully the game will be good to him, in a different role now at his alma mater.
 
Hearbreaking, maybe this heartwarming story, will have a happy ending.
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