By Teresa Varley
Football is full of bone-crushing hits that make highlight reels ever so popular, with replays being shown over and over again. Fans love to watch a running back get stuffed, a receiver get hit by a menacing linebacker and a kick returner just get stopped dead in his tracks by a young special teams ace trying to make a name for himself.
But there are some replays, some which you would think would be so innocent, that are just way to painful to watch. One such involved long snapper Greg Warren against the New York Giants last season.
In the third quarter Warren injured his knee, just running down field to make a play. It seemed innocent enough at first, but as he was walking off the field, the knee buckled and, well, a replay really isn't necessary. As it was shown in the press box time and again, even media cringed and turned their heads away from the televisions.
Warren was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
"The actual injury itself was the most surprising and disappointing part of my career," said Warren. "I have never been injured, especially to this extent. I was very disappointed."
For a player who wasn't used to being sidelined, Warren was in for a rude and painful awakening. This wasn't an injury that you could just rebound from a few days later. He underwent surgery and went through what seemed like an eternity of inactivity.
"It was one of the most challenging things I was faced with," said Warren. "At the very beginning I was laid up for six weeks and couldn't do anything. I was on crutches and couldn't put any weight on it for six weeks. To just lay there and know the best thing I can do is nothing, it was hard.
"I got cabin fever. I wanted to work out and do stuff and I knew that would cause me not to heal as fast and cause a setback. It's tough. It was a long process. I couldn't do anything with my leg. Everything just got weaker."
Eventually Warren got the go ahead from the doctors to allow the knee to be weight bearing. He was still on crutches for about another month, but he at least was able to get around, return to the practice facility and be around his teammates, something that was helpful and painful, especially as the team prepared for Super Bowl XLIII.
"To watch and see the team be successful, I was very excited but it made it that much more disappointing I couldn't be a part of it," said Warren. "We made this run and everything, I at least did it once so it wasn't like it was a once in a lifetime thing I would miss out on. I experienced it once. To be a part of it the second time in any capacity was a blessing. It was exciting to be able to watch other people have that success, especially guys who have worked so hard.
"The thing that kept me going was I stayed around the team and was still a part of everything."
Another thing that kept him going was kicker Jeff Reed. The two are best friends and Reed was there for him every step of the way, offering support and making sure Warren's spirits stayed up.
"On and off the field he kept me going," said Warren. "He would make sure I was okay. We would go out and have dinner. We would do things to keep things loose. He has been instrumental since I have been here."
Warren is currently an active participant in the team's OTAs, a welcome sight as he is doing everything he normally would do. He is at about 80 percent running wise, but is just amazed that he is running at this point, something he didn't think he would be doing until training camp.
"I am doing everything I did every other year, which is surprising," said Warren. "I didn't think I would be involved in anything at all. Once I started running they told me everything had healed really well and I could be involved in everything the team did. It's been a true blessing."
Warren admits he is still learning to trust the knee again, but has no fear of anything happening to it when he does return to the playing field since it wasn't a contact injury.
And while in the past the prospect of hot days at training camp might have been menacing for him, he can't wait to get to St. Vincent College later in the summer and get things rolling.
"There is no question," said Warren. "I told people after it happened I never thought I would be looking forward to training camp so much. When it first happened I thought training camp was going to be the first time I would be able to run around on it. I never though I would be running this soon in the summer. Training camp is going to be fun. I am going to enjoy it and hopefully get back to where I was last year."