Marvin “Dog” Andrews will get injured if his ‘Gaffer’ (manager) chooses to play him in the Old Firm Derby this weekend.
Approximately five weeks ago on March 13, Marvin sustained a serious injury to his left knee. MRI scans revealed that he had a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee. Club doctors advised immediate surgery and consequential rehabilitation.
The average time for full recovery from an injury of this type is eight months. Though some professional players, like Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers, have returned to full competitive action in just over three months. Our own national hockey star, Stacy Siu Butt recovered, following surgery, in a startling four months.
However, this is extremely rare and can only be achieved by intensely motivated athletes with the time, expertise, available facilities, desire and ability to endure extreme amounts of pain.
Marvin Andrews was quoted on Fox Sports as saying that he would refuse surgery, in order to be available to play for his club until the end of the season.
Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic are in the middle of a heated battle for the league title in Scotland. At present, a mere point separates the two teams. Thus this weekend’s encounter will, in fact, more than likely determine the eventual champions.
Any athlete, former athlete or coach can understand Marvin’s anxiety to help his team. He should be applauded for his display of dedication to the cause. However, there is a point at which bravery becomes insanity. Marvin has long crossed this point.
A torn ligament cannot be restored, repaired or strengthened without surgery. The swelling can be controlled by ice treatment and damaged muscle fibers surrounding the joint can be strengthened through rigorous rehabilitation. However, the weakened ligament remains, just that, weak.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is arguably the most important ligament in the body for athletes involved in sporting activities, which involve immense amounts of lateral movements. Football is all about lateral movements.
As a defender, Marvin will have to respond quickly to very sharp, speedy changes in direction of high quality forwards of Glasgow Celtic. He will also have to jump, elevate, challenge for headers in the area and most importantly land on the ground with his entire bodyweight being supported by that weakened ligament of the left knee.
Keep in mind here that no amount of rehabilitation, or competitive situation simulation can compare to the reflexive nature of an actual game. To play at your best, a player moves into automatic mode. Years of training, practice and repetition allows the non-conscious area of the brain to takeover.
Therefore, any attempts to consciously protect the injured area will inevitably fail at some point, leading to a worsening of the injury. In this case, unfortunately this means a complete tearing of the ACL and possible tearing of other stabilizing ligaments surrounding the left knee.
No ‘Goat mouth’ on Marvin
Please do not accuse me of putting “Goat Mouth” on Marvin. I truly hope that if he plays, he is able to complete his job unscathed. Yes, some people believe there is power in the spoken word and even the written word. I am not even going to attempt to challenge the voracity of these beliefs. However, science and in this case specifically, sports medicine, is not a guessing game. Sound theories have been confirmed by thorough testing, in depth analysis and most importantly empirical data. The facts speak for themselves.
Marvin is jeopardizing his career, his lifestyle, his family’s financial security and our nation’s chances to qualify for the World Cup in Germany, simply because he is a true ball peong. Coaches, managers and confidantes are needed in a situation like this, to prevent an athlete from self-destructing no matter how noble or courageous the motivation.
Yes, this is a huge game for Marvin, and his club. However, one thing that I have learnt in sport is that there will always be another huge game. Therefore, no matter how excruciatingly painful, it is for Marvin to sit in the stands for this game, and however many more ‘big’ games, until his knee has been surgically repaired. He simply has no choice.
Spalkspeople may be wondering how I seem to know so much about knee injuries. The truth of the matter is that I have done the same thing twice. Once in 1991, with my left knee, and more recently in 2004 with my right knee. On both occasions, I, just like Marvin, succumbed to the powerful forces of that round object, known as a football, only to pay a greater price.
Fortunately for me, my livelihood does not depend on my ability to move sideways. I cannot say the same for Marvin.
Marvin, please DO NOT PLAY. Take the surgery. For your sake, your family’s sake and our Warriors sake. Good