In Week One of the 1997 NFL season, Jerry Rice tore his ACL. In Week 16 of the same season, he stunned everyone by returning to the field, less than four months later. But Rice, who suffered a cracked kneecap while catching a touchdown pass in that Week 16 return, now says he regrets rushing back from his torn ACL. And he fears that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is doing the same.
Rice said today on NFL Live that he believes that second knee injury of 1997 was related to the first one, and that he should have been more cautious about his return from a major knee injury.
“I cracked my patella,” Rice said. “I feel that I rushed myself back to the football field. And I think that with Adrian Peterson, he’s doing the same thing. Because we are accustomed to being out there with the guys, sweating with the guys, fighting on the football field. And if you’re not able to do that you just don’t feel connected. And that’s the reason why I rushed back. I hope he doesn’t do the same thing.”
Rice was so desperate to get back to work after tearing his ACL that after surgery, he disobeyed doctors’ orders and sawed the cast off his own leg so that he could start working out again. Rice now believes that was foolish.
“I thought I was invincible,” Rice said. “I felt I did all the work and it was time for me to get back on that football field. But if I had to do it all over again, I would take more time to heal up, then come back.”
Peterson hasn’t rushed back the way Rice did: Peterson, who tore his ACL on December 24, has already rehabbed his knee for more than twice as long as Rice did. But Rice’s cautionary tale is still valuable for the Vikings, who shouldn’t let Peterson go back to full contact until the doctors are certain he’s ready, no matter how badly Peterson himself wants to return to the field.