Part of the reasoning for Arizona State’s early spring football practice was that it afforded extra recovery time for anyone unfortunate enough to suffer a major injury.
As it turned out, protective measures including almost no tackling to the ground worked perfectly. All the players made it through the month unscathed.
So the only Sun Devil going under the knife when spring practice ended Feb. 28 was second-year coach Herm Edwards for a long-delayed right knee replacement.
Edwards hasn’t been able to run for exercise for a decade, stemming back to knee surgery to remove cartilage in 1982 when he was playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I played another four years and I could run after I retired all the way up to 2006,” Edwards said. “After that I couldn’t run anymore because my knee would always swell, and it was starting to become a windblown knee, where it was going inside (known as a bow leg). Then all I could do was walk for exercise. Over the years, it just kept getting bigger and going inside. I kept waiting, but it got to the point where I said I’ve got to get it done now.
“You’ve got this limp all the time. I don’t want to look like that.”
Edwards, who turns 65 on April 27, scheduled the surgery for March 5. He said after the spring game that his only wish was for the doctor to “wake him up” afterwards and that he expected to immediately return to work.
Not surprisingly, he failed to meet that overly optimistic goal.
Former Baltimore Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer and others cautioned Edwards, “Hey coach, that first week, you’ll look back and say why did I do this? It’s the toughest thing you’ve got to go through.”
But soon after a two-hour surgery, when Edwards’ was still feeling no pain due to anesthesia, he lifted his right leg and informed the doctor he was ready to leave the hospital.
“The next day when that block wore off, I was like, ‘Oh no,’ ” Edwards said. “I said, ‘Doc, I think you’re right, I need to stay another day.’ They had me on the walker the first time I walked around on the floor and I told them the next time I walk, I’m not walking on this walker. I’ve got to have crutches.”
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He spent four days mostly in bed but now has been rehabbing his knee for a week.
“It’s been day to day, and there’s constant improvement. I’m not there yet, but compared to where I was and how I feel, too. I’m not a big medicine guy. I stayed on the pain pills for three days, and I got off.”
Edwards said he already has relief in his neck, which was hurting for a year because his nerve system and body overall was out of balance.
Most of his players returned from spring break surprised to find their coach in the training room and using crutches rather than doing his standard 4:30 a.m. weight room workout.
“It was a great decision,” Edwards said. “If anyone is contemplating it, I would say go do it because your qualify of life will change especially if you’ve been suffering with it and trying to be tough.”
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8053. Follow him on Twitter @jeffmetcalfe.
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