The New Orleans Saints' leading rusher from last season found himself Sunday night at a charitable event in Mandeville, happy to be of assistance and happy to be walking in something close to normal fashion.
Such is the life of second-year running back Chris Ivory, who is dealing with post-surgery rehabilitation and, like all his colleagues, in something of a state of limbo.
With the NFL owners' lockout continuing and neither management nor the players discussing a labor peace, both sides gear for a pending federal court date while the players scramble for places to stay in shape.
For some players, who rose through the big-time programs of LSU, say, or Texas, first-class facilities are always available. But for others such as Ivory, who came from little-known campuses (Tiffin) and blossomed as undrafted rookie free agents, the options are fewer as they face an offseason on their own.
That's a double precarious deal for Ivory, given his proclivity to injury. Ivory averaged 5.2 yards per carry last season, but was limited to 716 yards on 137 carries overall because he could not stay in the lineup. He played in 12 games, four of them starts, but he was inactive for the other four and he watched from the injured reserve list as the Saints, their backfield seriously shorthanded, lost to Seattle in a stunning road upset in a wild-card game.
On Sunday, looking trim and fit in a suit and tie, Ivory offered confident assurances his physical situation is improving weekly, that his mental approach to the game has never been better, and that he, like many players looking to make a name and bank account for themselves through football, are champing at the bit to return to action.
Indeed, the scariest thing for Ivory on Sunday night appeared to be the prospect of being one of the featured attractions at a major fundraiser for the St. Tammany Parish Children's Museum, at which more than 1,000 people were expected. One of the event's hosts greeted Ivory at the Castine Center with the observation it was good to see him walking again, and out of the protective boot he was wearing the last time they'd met.
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