You gotta play hurt but you can’t play injured

Andrew "Kountry" Grau, days after ACL surgery, sits and watches the football game versus Bullis. Expect his next live action to be at University of Delaware. BY DAVE FREDERICK
October 11, 2013

Hurt or Injured – In the movie “The Program,” the running back played by Omar Epps, who bears a striking resemblance to Mike Tomlin, stays down after a run and his coach, played by James Caan, asks him, “Are you hurt or are you injured? Because if you're injured, I can’t let you go back in, but if you're hurt you can play." Lots of hurt and injury go around all sports and quite frankly some players can’t play hurt and no players should play injured, although some will try. Cape athlete Andrew Grau tore his ACL on a bad landing trying to get his feet in bounds and is lost for the year to football and basketball. Madi Smith, the best basketball player at Cape, injured her knee playing basketball in summer league and is out for the season. Maggie Delp, field hockey and lacrosse player, broke her hand in a fall practice and has been out most of the season, but will be back for the playoff run. Tweaked hamstrings, rolling ankles and getting your bell rung can cost an athlete a week of the season and in some cases the coach silently questions, “Is this kid hurt or injured?” An off-white backfield coach at Temple once screamed at me as I babbled into the water bucket instead of taking the field, “Frederick, do you have a concussion?” “I’d be the last to know, wouldn’t I coach?” Coach said, “Who do you think you are, Bill Cosby? He wasn’t no damn good either.”

Double Stinger - Any football player who had tackled some pile-driving fullback then felt that nerve buzz from one side of the neck across the shoulder and down the arm and back has seen his life of ambulation and locomotion flash in front of his young eyes. It happened to me when I was 14 and tackled a senior with 470 combined on his SAT heading to Tennessee on a full scholarship. Concrete thinking blockheads hit harder, so never start an argument with one that ends in a fight. Twelve years ago, I watched a Ravens game in person and actually talked to Tony Siragusa beforehand, who arrived with my nephew Mike who was on the team. I said, "Well, I’ll let you guys go. I’m sure you want to get out and warm up.” Goose laughed, “Look for me, I’ll be in football pants and white T-shirt walking around talking to people, that’s how I warm up.” During the game, Goose threw himself in from of a running back, got a double stinger with nerves buzzing down both sides of his body. He was carted off to Johns Hopkins for a quick open MRI. By the fourth quarter, the stadium camera focused on the broadcast booth and he was in there, waving with one hand eating a hot dog with the other. That boy can play hurt and he’s a certain kind of stupid, what I call football stupid.

Izzie back in UMass lineup - Izzie Delario, a midfielder on the last four Delaware state championship field hockey teams – two at Sussex Tech and two at Cape – was excelling at the University of Massachusetts, second on the team in scoring after five games, when she suffered a knee injury and was apparently gone for the season. Well, she is back in the lineup for the 13th-ranked Minutemen and played Oct. 2 against Northeastern and former Cape players Caroline Judge and Kaci Coveleski. UMass won the game 2-0. Because of the lexis-nexis texting network, I was not able to break this news to any athlete who ever played with Izzie.

Good is good - If an exceptionally talented freshman is better than a moderately talented senior and you’re a coach with one roster spot to fill, do you cut the senior and bring up the freshman or send the freshman to junior varsity for development time and keep the senior who has earned the right to be there and won’t hurt you and – who knows – might even make winning shot in state championship game?

I thought of this after watching San Jose Sharks' 19-year-old rookie Tomas Hart score his fourth goal of the game against the Rangers on a between-the-legs skate-by shot that I’ve seen 25 times in slow motion and still can't figure it out. I just concluded “good is good.” Play the best people. What’s a few broken hearts? We're talking sports here!

Snippets - Don’t look for relief from miserable spectator conditions; the downside of turf fields is they are always playable. Stormy conditions can equalize talent, but they are part of the season. If I have the better team, I don’t like wind and rain and refs who wear glasses.

Jerome Johnson rushed for 139 yards as Salisbury University beat Utica College 34-0. Speaking of sophomore Jerome, that cat is out of the bag. Go on now, git!

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