News broke Tuesday that San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon had microfracture surgery on his left knee in January. The doomsayers have already come out of the woodwork, predicting Gordon’s career is already over after only one season. This type of surgery has a 4-6 month recovery timetable, which would put Gordon back to full strength by the time June training camps begin.
In microfracture knee surgery, small ‘micro’ holes are drilled into the damaged area of the knee. The damaged area bleeds out and once it reheals, it (hopefully) fully repairs the damaged area of the knee. Factors working in Gordon’s favor are his age and his health. At a young 23 years old, Gordon is much more likely to make a full recovery than an athlete who is much older.
Examples of successful returns from microfracture surgery are well documented.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had microfracture surgery that claimed all but one game of his rookie season in 2013. Kelce was 23 at the time of his surgery. In the two seasons since, he hasn’t missed a game. He’s averaged 70 catches, 868 yards and five touchdowns. Each year he has finished as the sixth-leading tight end in the NFL. Last season Kelce was selected to his first Pro Bowl.
The most notable player in the NBA to undergo microfracture surgery was Amar’e Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns. Stoudemire, 22 years old at the time, had the procedure in 2005 during their infamous fast-breaking offense they dubbed “7 seconds or less.” From 2004 to 2008, the Suns led the league in scoring and would beat their opponents with speed, conditioning and raw athleticism. After Stoudemire recovered from his microfracture surgery, he led the Suns in scoring for two more seasons. In addition, Stoudemire made the All-Star team five times, All-NBA second-team three times and All-NBA first-team once after microfracture.
Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadaveon Clowney had microfracture surgery after being taken with the first overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. The jury is out on whether he will achieve the greatness he showed in college. He did start nine of the 13 games he played last season.
Microfracture surgery goes back farther than you think. Dan Marino and Rod Woodson both underwent microfracture surgery early in their careers. If you don’t know how they turned out, you can ask their bronze busts in Canton, Ohio.
The moral of the story: pump the brakes, San Diego.
The fact that Melvin Gordon had microfracture surgery is not a death sentence on his young, still promising career. Forget what you saw last season. The Chargers had 25 different offensive line combinations last season. Any running back in the NFL would have had a bad year trying to run behind that line.
The fact that Gordon underwent the surgery in January is to his advantage. With the upgrades the Bolts have made along the offensive line, the addition of Ken Whisenhunt as Offensive Coordinator and drafting of Gordon’s college fullback, Derek Watt, all signs point to a breakout season.
The best days of Flash are yet to come.
The Greg One