Dr. James Andrews, the renowned surgeon who rebuilt Adrian Peterson’s knee before his MVP 2012 season, and who has said Robert Griffin III is making “superhuman” recovery from his own reconstructive knee surgery, would like everyone to understand something: Peterson and Griffin are the exception, not the rule.
Andrews told Newsday that a couple of high-profile players making great progress from torn ACLs should not be taken as a sign that a torn ACL is the kind of injury that players can always expect to shake off over the course of an offseason and come back as good as new.
“The last thing I’d want people to be thinking is people are coming back quicker and quicker,” Andrews said. “The few individuals that you know of who have come back quickly are what I call ‘superhuman’ athletes . . . There are only a few of those superhuman athletes out there. Their healing potential for some reason is much better than the average patient, but you can’t extrapolate their ability to come back from an injury to the average athlete.”
Andrews added that even the greatest of athletes can have a long and difficult rehabilitation process after a major knee surgery, and the next NFL superstar to blow out his knee won’t necessarily come back as strong as Peterson did, or as progress as quickly as Griffin seems to be.
“They’re all different,” Andrews said. “There’s still a big spectrum in how they heal and how they come back . . . It’s hard to predict recovery from an ACL surgery, and to say that we’re getting them back quicker than we used to would be false information from my standpoint.”
That’s an important reminder for fans, and for the players themselves: A player who pushes himself to come back on Peterson’s timetable is probably going to do more harm than good. Going from ACL to MVP will always be the exception, not the rule.