In 2006, Cleveland Browns cornerback Gary Baxter suffered the same injury. He tried to come back in 2007 but was released and never played another down in an NFL game.
In fact, as far as anyone can tell, no one has ever played in an NFL game after suffering this injury. But Childs seems unfazed.
“I’m the kind of guy who is going to make this believable,” Childs said. “People are going to be like, ‘OK, we believe now.’ ”
‘I broke down’
Wright ran that final snap of the scrimmage, stayed for the post-scrimmage huddle around Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and then beelined it to the trainer’s room.
“When I tried to go into the room, they said they were still inspecting him,” Wright said. “I took my shoulder pads off and waited. About 30 minutes later, someone came out and said he tore both this time. I broke down. Words can’t explain how bad I felt.”
Childs’ surgery with team physician Joel Boyd was scheduled for the following Monday night. Sunday would be spent back in the Twin Cities, mostly in pain, staring at grotesquely puffy knees “the size of cantaloupes” as his mother, Carla Gregory, and father, Greg Sr., tended to him after a morning flight from Arkansas.
Saturday night would be spent in a Mankato hospital getting a magnetic resonance imaging exam and returning to his dorm room for a long night of thinking about what had just happened. Naturally, Wright was his roommate.
“I’ll be honest, he didn’t take it that well,” Wright said. “But who would? I kept telling him God has a plan. To his credit, it only took a day or two before he came to me and said, ‘It’s over with, man. I’m ready to do what I got to do to get back on the field.’ ”
Since then, the combination of Childs’ upbeat attitude, relentless work ethic and eternal smile in the face of what could be depressing, retirement-inducing odds has been one of the wonders of Winter Park.
Same thing, day in, day out
From the time he was injured until about a month and a half after his surgery, Childs had to keep his legs perfectly straight. He spent two days in a hospital bed and then wore braces to ensure that his knees didn’t bend while recovering at home.
“Even going to the bathroom, it’s terrible,” he said. “When you stand up, the blood rushes to your calf muscles and feet. And you have the swelling in the knees. It’s painful just to stand up. It takes a lot of focus to tell yourself it’s only temporary.”
When Childs was a little too stir crazy, you-know-who was there to play a video game, to talk or offer a ride.
“He couldn’t drive, so getting him out in the car the first time was like the happiest day of his life,” Wright said. “We couldn’t go to the mall because he couldn’t walk that much. But we did go to Walmart for something.”
Childs’ pain medicine also made him nauseated, which didn’t help as his weight plummeted to 180. But nothing compared to the pain that arrived when it was time to start bending his knees again.
“It’s not like you just wake up and start bending your knees all at once,” Childs said. “Normal range of motion is 135 degrees. I’m at 145 now, which is great. But you spend an entire week trying to get just another 10 degrees of range back.
“And I can’t even describe the pain. Breaking down that scar tissue is the most pain I’ve ever felt, including the injury itself. It’s crazy because it feels like you can’t bend your leg no matter how hard you push. But I’m on like a military schedule. Work out. Eat. Sleep. Get up and do it again. Same thing. Day in, day out.”