We’re just a couple weeks from training camp now, so I want to give everyone an update on where I’m at.
The last few months of my rehab have been very productive, and I feel like I’m making a lot of progress. The things I’ve been doing kind of feel like it was the third quarter of the rehab process. We’re now entering the fourth quarter. The season is inching closer. It’s crunch time, and I’ve got to be ready when football gets here.
Everything is going according to schedule. I’m in good physical health. I spent OTAs lifting weights and continued to do a good job with my rehab, and by minicamp, I was able to get out on the field.
It was pretty cool to have that feeling again of being on the field with my teammates. Going into OTAs I was feeling good enough to see if I could do some things in minicamp, but I hadn’t been cleared yet. When the coaches and trainers came to me and told me they were going to let me go out on the field and try it, I got real excited.
It felt good just to see where I was at in the rehab process. The first day I spent shaking off the rust. I was a little tentative in certain steps. But by that second day I was out there, I was feeling a lot more comfortable. I was able to open up, and just let it go a little bit.
The drills I did were mostly individuals, working on catching passes in some route drills and cutting upfield. Coming out of the work that I’d put in over the previous months, the next step was me cutting, so it was kind of perfect timing. I did everything full speed in my cutting drills, and it felt good to be able to make those cuts again.
A HEALTHY FOUNDATION
I’ve built a really good relationship with our training staff in Kansas City. We communicate very well. Our head trainer, Rick Burkholder, lets me do things to challenge myself. I feed off his ideas and I’m able to suggest things, too.
For most of OTAs I was doing a lot of one-on-one stuff with the trainers inside while the team was outside going through drills. They obviously didn’t need the one-on-one time like I did; they need to be together improving as a team. I was working hard to get to there, but wasn’t ready to take my leg to that level just yet.
We’d start the day with team meetings, and we’d all watch film together. It was fun in the film room, especially the running backs room, with what some of those young guys have picked up after playing last year while I was out. You can see and hear the confidence and the knowledge. I just try to encourage them to be the best they can be. We’re all going to motivate each other.
After the daily film session, they’d go out to the field and I’d stay in, so really I didn’t get to see those guys for about half of the day. I was on a different kind of grind.
Each rehab session for me began with basic warm-up drills to get my body loose, get my legs firing. A lot of times, I’d go in the weight room and do some leg extensions to get my legs ready to run. Then I hop on the treadmill. I was running the Alter G, which is an anti-gravity treadmill that’s designed to allow you to run at less than full body weight to take pressure off your knees.
By OTAs, I was running with almost all my body weight and doing intervals at different speeds. I’d work up to six or seven miles per hour for a minute, then push it up to nine and then 10 for another minute. Then I’d go back down to six miles per hour, then 8.5, and so on. A lot of that is designed to build stamina and cardio, but it also tests my ability to speed up and slow down.
After I finished that, I’d go back to the weight room to lift with the strength coaches. When I lift with the strength coaches, I work on single legs, squats to work out my hamstrings, quads and other areas of my legs, making sure I’m maintaining and gaining strength in those legs.
I’m happy with where my strength is right now because I’ve got some power! That’s continuing to improve each week. That’s what I’ve wanted to see, so the right leg can catch back up with the left leg. That got me into position where I can keep taking my legs to another height, to another level.
I’ve also been working on getting my lateral movement back from the meniscus tear, and that’s progressing well. They had me doing a lot of balance work during OTA to get me ready for when we got into the lateral stuff.
They also had me running a lot of hills, and just trying to maintain my stamina. That’s aimed at just building up the cardio. I was still doing a lot of jump rope as well.
A lot of the most recent rehab stuff has been just opening it up and trying to run, trying to keep up my speed. It’s almost like being a little kid all over again, and learning how to run. I’m figuring out how to start and how to stop. One thing that’s important to me is to maintain my speed, because that’s been part of my career and part of my legacy. I’m happy with where it is right now. I’m beating guys that haven’t been working back from a torn ACL. I’m just very blessed and thank God for my speed.
As with every injury, there are always obstacles to deal with. But overall, I feel good.
I got cleared around the same time of year the last time I tore my ACL—there may be a two-week difference in there, but I know I’m not that far off from the first time. This process has been way different because I’ve got a new attitude.
When you go through something like this, either time I’ve done it, it’s a low point. To not be there with your team, to not be able to put that uniform on and do what you love. You find out who you are as a person, what you have, and what’s important.
The first time I tore my ACL, I really didn’t know anything about myself or who I was. I was still young. People didn’t have a lot of faith in me then. They questioned if I was going to come back to be who I was before, and I did that.
Now it’s my second time, and people are saying I’m older and questioning me.
But I have a whole different perspective this time from the last time I tore my ACL. It basically changed me as a person. I’ve found out who I really am, and I feel good in my skin, with who I am as a person. I thank God for that.
Back in March, my wife and I went to a Pro Athletes Outreach event called The Increase in Colorado Springs. It was basically a four-day Christian retreat. My wife really inspired me to do it, and I’m so grateful. We did a whole bunch of workshops. My wife and I ended up getting introduced to an organization where you can sponsor little kids from all over the world, and we ended up sponsoring three.
My wife is the most amazing partner. I asked God for a mate, and he gave me an angel. She brought me close to God. I tell her every day, “You’re the most beautiful, unique person I’ve ever met in the whole world.” I’m trying to figure out how I’m ever going to pay her back.
The whole retreat really enlightened us to the point that we both ended up getting baptized. We wanted to re-devote our lives to Christ. We’ve both been in a good spirit and a good place ever since. It’s been one of the most important things I’ve done in my whole life. I feel like it’s better than all of my accomplishments on the field, because it’s about more than football. I used to pay more attention to football than I did God, but now my belief is on a different level.
Now, I’m trying to walk with God. I want to walk that path to honor God and my whole family.
I’ve learned to be a man and honor my kids. My daughters look up to me. They see the way I walk, the way I treat their momma. In the future when it comes time for them to start dating, I want them to know what to look for in whatever person they want to be with.
The whole experience and the last several months since have really opened my eyes to the fact that life is about more than just playing football. Football is not going to get me to Heaven!
I want to be able to play the game of football because God gave me this talent. But I’ve found it’s not all about awards and stuff like that. I can’t play football forever. When I leave this place, I want to be known for what type of person I was, to tell you the truth.
One of the things I decided to do to mix things up in my rehab was to leave Kansas City after OTAs and minicamp, and go somewhere to keep getting my knee stronger. I headed down to Pensacola, Florida, to work out at the EXOS performance facility down here.
I’d heard about this place and visited it when I had the surgery done in the first place, and I really liked it, so it seemed like a good fit to take these last steps before camp. I’ve already spent several weeks down here as I continue with this rehab and work to get back for the season.
They’ve been working on a lot of different things with me. I’m doing little cutting drills, lateral movements, some straight ahead stuff as well, pushing sleds, and some strengthening workouts that are going to help me get my knee stronger, and my technique and all my moves back.
I’m glad to have my family with me here in Pensacola, and to continue spending time with them when I’m not working out. This is all for them, so I can’t mess around. I know I have to take care of my body to continue to protect and provide for my family.
We’re right on the beach here, so I get to look out at the ocean every day, and keep looking forward, keep thinking and dreaming about things. Some days I just meditate on that, and think about how my body will continue to heal. I have faith and I’m able to keep my faith. God’s going to make a way for me and he’s going to let me show his glory. I’m just waiting for that time to come.
That’s all I have to do: Take it one day at a time, and wait for football season to come.
To the Chiefs fans: Thank you all for still believing in me and for your support. It means so much to me. We’re all focused. I’m ready to see where everybody’s energy is when we get back. Before we went our separate ways at the end of minicamp, we talked about getting ready for this year coming up. It’s exciting to see. Everybody is on the same page. We just know that we want to win.
I can’t wait till the season gets here. The best is yet to come!