To most, that date doesn’t mean much, but to me, that date represents the first time I truly understood just how crazy the business of football can be. You see, on that date, the Falcons were on the road, playing the Giants in the NFC Wild Card game. (This may become a long read as I will be doing a little rewinding. Stay with me though, you wont regret these minutes.)
Brent pretty much played the entire 2011 season with a knee injury. He knew this was an important year for the team, so if he could delay surgery and play thru the pain, he would. By week 12, the pain was unbearable and he found himself unable to perform. He was forced to have surgery. The return time was 4 weeks, depending on how your body reacts. Worst case scenario, he returns if we make the playoffs. A little less than 4 weeks later, the Falcons were playing the Saints, in New Orleans, on a Monday night. YIKES!! Who knows how big that game was? For the fans, it was everything, but in all actuality, it was just another game. You see, the Falcons had already clinched a playoff birth, so win or lose, they were going to play in the post season. I asked my husband not to play in that game. Would you like to know why? He had surgery almost 4 weeks prior, it was the Saints so I knew he would give max effort on a recently repaired knee, and we had already secured a playoff spot. Remember, a win was not needed to make the playoffs. He told me the coaches asked him to play because it was their rivals. It was personal. They needed him. He decided to play, against my wishes, and re-injured the same knee. I was sick! He would sit out the final game of the season, with a knee injury.
Friday, January 6, 2012, date night! Hubby and I had a scheduled date night every Friday of the week. We usually did dinner, a movie, shopping, and sometimes we stayed home (out of Aiden’s sight), so that we could connect privately. That night, we decided to go out to dinner and then the mall for a little shopping. It had been 11 days since the Saints game and it was also Brent’s first full practice since. When Brent got out of the car, I noticed he had a limp. I didn’t pay it any attention since I knew he re-injured it less than two weeks prior, and had his first full practice. After dinner, we were headed to the mall and I noticed the limp became more dramatic as the night went on. After asking multiple times, if he was ok, he finally admitted to me that he was in pain. He was not hurt, he was injured. There is a difference. When you’re hurt, you can still compete, when you’re injured, you need to sit down and let the next man step up in your absence. Everybody knows I go to every game, home or road, so I was all set to fly out the next morning to attend the game that Sunday. Once I realized he was in pain, we went straight home. I called Delta, cancelled my plane ticket, as well as put my seats up for sale. I didn’t see the point in going to New York, leaving my son behind, to watch my husband sit on the sidelines.
The next day, January 7, 2012, hubby went to the team walk thru and told the trainers about his pain. He was told to go on the trip and he would be a game time decision. WHAT??? Excuse me? How can he be a game time decision when he can’t walk? Why would you want a player that is functioning at less than 60% to play when you have a roster full of guys that are supposed to be able to fill in? It didn’t make sense to me. But I rolled with it, knowing there was NO WAY he would be cleared to play in his condition.
It is now Sunday morning, which is game day. Brent went to the stadium with the team and immediately began doing warm-up drills, testing the knee. There was still pain. He called me and said, “I still have pain.” So instantly, I’m thinking about who will replace him and can we still get this win with our best corner out. I was apprehensive! As I sat in front of the TV, watching the pre-game show, I hear the commentator say, “Brent Grimes has been cleared to play by the Falcons team doctor.” I swear to you I almost puked! I couldn’t believe what I just heard! My Twitter mentions went NUTS!! The fans were tweeting me saying how we would for sure win since he was playing! I was confused. How is this possible? He’s injured! I called him back! Brent said he called Dr. Andrews, the doctor that performed his surgery, to get his opinion. Dr. Andrews said, specifically, “5 weeks post surgery you should not feel a thing! If you feel anything, you are not to play.” That settled it for me; I didn’t care what the Falcons doctor said. We were both baffled at why the Falcons team doctor would clear him to play, knowing he was not able to perform. As most of you know, he decided not to play. We lost the game 24-2. -___-
So I ask you, why do you think he was cleared by the Falcons, when he wasn’t able to perform? What were the Falcons asking him to do, by medically clearing him to play, knowing he was injured? Did they want him to injure himself worse than he already had? Did they not believe in their back ups? Did they care at all about Brent’s future in the NFL if he played injured and was unable to play the next season? Of course they didn’t. They were only thinking of themselves.
Brent was thrown under the bus. The Falcons made it seem as though he was medically capable of playing, but was choosing not to play. That couldn’t be further from the truth. He was injured. Could he have gone out there and gave it a try? Yes, but why would you do that when basic back peddling drills are causing you pain? It made no sense. He would hurt the team more than he could help. I wanted the Falcons to explain to everyone that Brent was not able to perform and the clearance from the team doctor was a game they were playing with the Giants, to make them believe he was going to play. And because they didn’t, there was a TON of backlash.
The fans and media painted a picture of a guy that was so money hungry that he decided not to play in the biggest game of the season. It was decided, without asking Brent, that he was leaving his team hanging for his own selfish reasons. But if that were the case, why did he play in the Saints game? Why did he play the entire season hurt? Why did he even try to play when he got to New York? And WHY did the Falcons give the franchise tag (a guaranteed 10.6 million dollars in one year) about 2 months later, to a player that was leaving them hanging? Let that marinate.
At this point, I despise the Falcons organization. I am ashamed to cheer for a team that would put a guy who has done everything right, even when he had reasons not to, in such a horrible position with the fans. Im upset that my husband had several opportunities to leave this organization but he chose not to because he was showing so much loyalty to an organization that never believed in him to begin with. I was livid with the front office for tagging him and NEVER, and I mean EVER, despite what you read, making the attempt to negotiate a long term deal with him. My husband had a one year contract for his entire career as a Falcon and there were never any negotiations to give him a multi-year deal, ever! The Falcons disrespected Brent on multiple occasions (that I cant speak on) and all he ever did in return was show them loyalty.
So there it is. All the facts! Now you know why I say to hell with the Falcons. It has nothing to do with the men in the uniform, it has everything to do with a front office and coaching staff that had an opportunity to tell an amazing story about a guy that shouldn’t have made it this far. Instead, they took advantage of him. They used his loyalty against him. And if you’re a fan of the Falcons, or any team, I encourage you to watch what you say to the players. You don’t know everything. They only tell you what they want you to know. Just be a fan. Cheer for you team, love who you love, and keep it moving!