Vikings’ QB Sam Bradford: Kyle Schwarber comeback ‘unbelievable’

SHARE Vikings’ QB Sam Bradford: Kyle Schwarber comeback ‘unbelievable’
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Six months after undergoing knee surgery, Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber had three hits in the first two games of the World Series. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford probably should be jealous, but he had nothing but admiration for Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in April and returned this week to get three hits and two RBIs in the World Series.

“I think it’s unbelievable and very impressive,” Bradford said. “Obviously having gone through an ACL rehab twice, I know what it’s like. I know it’s not easy. It’s not easy to stay mentally involved, especially when you can feel like you’re kind of an outsider going through that process alone. So for him to be able to do what he’s done, I think that’s incredible.”

Bradford’s return from knee surgery was much less glorious — almost the opposite of Schwarber. Bradford suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 of the 2013 season. He returned in 2014, but tore the ACL in the same knee in the preseason and missed that season as well.

Torn knee ligaments are rare in baseball, but at least a player like Schwarber can hit even if he can’t play the field. Football players don’t have that luxury. “Baseball’s a different game than football,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “But it’s a nice thing thing [Schwarber’s] doing.”

Still, a Schwarber-like recovery is not unprecedented in the NFL. In 1995, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson suffered a torn ACL against the Lions in the season opener. He returned for Super Bowl XXX against the Cowboys on Jan. 28, 1996 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

Woodson didn’t have the same impact in the Super Bowl as Schwarber already has had in two games in the World Series — he played as in nickel situationsand had one pass break-up vs. Cowboys star Michael Irvin. But he was playing football 19 weeks following surgery for a torn ACL — nobody had ever done that before.

And nobody has done it since, though Vikings running back Adrian Peterson deserves special mention for his recovery from ACL surgery in 2012. Peterson suffered the injury on Dec. 24, 2011 against the Redskins. He returned the following season and — after missing the preseason —led the NFL in rushing with a career-high 2,097 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per carry and scoring 12 touchdowns. That’s pretty much the gold standard for major-surgery recovery in the NFL.

There is an NFL connection to Schwarber’s recovery. His surgery was done by the Dallas Cowboys’ head team physician, award-winning orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Cooper. The Cowboys have had several success stories with injuries, going back to former Bears offensive tackle Marc Colombo — who missed most of three seasons (2003-05) after suffering a dislocated kneecap as a rookie with the Bears, then started 72-of-80 games with the Cowboys in 2006-10.

Fangio is a baseball fan who noted Thursday that if the Cubs win the World Series, Chicago will be the only city in the last 30 years to have five major sports teams win a championship — the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1986; the Bulls won six NBA titles in the 1990s; the Blackhawks won Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015 and rumor has it the White Sox won the World Series in 2005.

What about Boston? The Red Sox (2004, 2007, 2013); the Patriots (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014); the Celtics (1986, 2008); and the Bruins (2011).

“Boston’s the other one [to have every major-sport team win a title],” Fangio said. “But Boston doesn’t have two baseball teams.”

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