Plain Dealer: Bentley will try to come back this year

Discussion in 'NFL Zone' started by Angus, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. Angus

    Angus Active Member

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    Bentley will try to come back this year
    Told last fall his career was over, Browns center hopes to defy odds by returning to field
    Sunday, July 01, 2007
    Mary Kay Cabot
    Plain Dealer Reporter

    Despite being told he'd never play football again, Browns center and hometown favorite LeCharles Bentley said this week he'll try to make a comeback this season.

    "I've been fortunate enough to have worked myself into a position to even think about playing football again," Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Plain Dealer. "In spite of some major hurdles, I've been truly blessed all along the way to the point where I might possibly play this year."

    Bentley, who will be in Berea for the first day of training camp July 27, revealed that he has undergone four surgeries over the past 11 months instead of the two that have been previously reported.

    The first was to repair the torn left patella tendon suffered on the first day of contact drills last July. The next two were to clean out a life- and limb-threatening staph infection that penetrated the joint following the initial surgery. Those were each followed by a 30-day stay at the Cleveland Clinic. And the fourth operation, performed by Giants team physician Dr. Russell Warren in New York in November, was to clean out more staph and remove a portion of the tendon that was eaten away by the infection.

    It was after that fourth surgery that Warren, one of the nation's most prominent orthopedic surgeons, told Bentley -- a two-time Pro Bowler with a lifelong dream to play for his hometown Browns -- that he'd never play football again.

    "He told me to retire and he basically bet his license that I'd never play football again," said Bentley, who grew up in Cleveland and played at St. Ignatius and Ohio State.

    Undaunted, Bentley, 27, rehabbed in Cleveland and then flew to Phoenix in January to focus entirely on his recovery.

    "At that point, it was more just about living a normal life than playing football again," Bentley said. "I was trying to learn how to walk up the stairs again."

    Bentley flew back and forth to New York to see Warren, who scheduled a fifth surgery for June 3. This time, Warren would most likely use a cadaver tendon to rebuild Bentley's ravaged patella.

    But after an examination in May, Warren decided against the surgery.

    "He told me my knee was sufficiently healed enough to live a normal life," said Bentley, who was the top-rated free agent when the Browns signed him in March of 2006. "He said, Go retire, go fishing, go live your life.' "

    Football was not part of the discussion. But Warren got the wheels turning in Bentley's mind.

    "If he's telling me I don't need surgery," Bentley said, "I started thinking, Maybe I can play again.' "
    Bentley took his rehab to another level and began working out in Columbus, including some at Ohio State. "I started to feel like a football player again," he said.

    When he told Warren about his progress in mid-June, the doctor deemed it remarkable. "He told me to call him in a couple of weeks and that if everything looked good, he'd pass me on my physical," Bentley said.

    Bentley, who's rehabbing again in Phoenix, called Browns coach Romeo Crennel about a week ago and told him he'd be coming to camp and that he'd try to play this season.

    "He said great and that he'd see me then," Bentley said.

    Bentley said he'll most likely start camp by working out individually and then ease his way into position drills. "I don't anticipate any contact until at least three weeks into it," he said.

    He said he'll take it one day at a time, but that his goal is to play in the opener Sept. 9 against Pittsburgh.

    "I want to fulfill my promise to Browns fans to come back and help this team win," he said. "I don't want to let anybody down."
  2. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    Good. Nothing like having a player not at 100% helping your chances at having the worst record in football.
  3. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    Bentley has been through a lot. What a nightmare!

    Best of luck to him (but not to his team).
  4. Coakleys Dad

    Coakleys Dad The Re-Birth has begun.

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    My sediments exactly.
  5. Chocolate Lab

    Chocolate Lab Run-loving Dino

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    Wow, I didn't know about the staph infection... That's some terrible luck for the guy. :(
  6. InmanRoshi

    InmanRoshi Zone Scribe

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    I wish the guy luck, he's certainly due. However, I don't see him coming back .. at least not this year. Bentley was always a pure power mauler more than a technician of leverage, and I'm not sure how much strength you can have on a leg that's been operated on 4 times in 11 months.
  7. DallasEast

    DallasEast Cowboys 24/7/365 Staff Member

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    You got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. He achieved his dream of playing pro football. I certainly hope that he doesn't eventually lose his leg by attempting to continue playing the game.
  8. SupermanXx

    SupermanXx Benched

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  9. DallasEast

    DallasEast Cowboys 24/7/365 Staff Member

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    What's wrong? Don't you hope that the Browns will settle at the bottom of the ocean... er... the NFL this season? :p:
  10. SupermanXx

    SupermanXx Benched

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    good call
  11. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    The man really needs to think about Earl Campbell and some others right now. That knee has GOT to be weak. Does he really want to have a knee replacement in the next few years? There comes a time when you really have to think about the REST of your life- the 40-50 years AFTER football.
  12. ThreeSportStar80

    ThreeSportStar80 Benched

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    Man what a bold move, I hope he recovers but I'm rooting against Cleveland HARD this year....
  13. CrazyCowboy

    CrazyCowboy Well-Known Member

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    Exactly what I was thinking.......
  14. stealth

    stealth Benched

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    wish the kid luck and hope he wises up and realizes a normal life is alot better than one more year of football and being a crippled giant.

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