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Saints players are taking notice of offseason injuries

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; SAFETY FIRST Saints players are taking notice of offseason injuries to athletes involved in high-risk activities It was the slightest of nicks. A few inches below Joe Horn's knee, there was a dime-sized, puffy discoloration. The Saints' receiver hiked his ...

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Old 07-23-2005, 02:05 PM   #1
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Saints players are taking notice of offseason injuries

SAFETY FIRST

Saints players are taking notice of offseason injuries to athletes involved in high-risk activities

It was the slightest of nicks.

A few inches below Joe Horn's knee, there was a dime-sized, puffy discoloration. The Saints' receiver hiked his leg to show off the spot where metal met bone. He wanted to make a point.

People can get hurt doing anything at any time, he said. Athletes are no different.

The Pro Bowl player didn't bang up his leg in early June by crashing a motorcycle or washing his truck -- he did it playing golf.

Sort of.

Horn was at a golf course when the accident occurred, but the mark had nothing to do with the game. Fed up with an annoying bug buzzing around him, Horn swung his putter at it.

He missed the bug, but hit himself.

He wasn't seriously injured, but it didn't feel good, either. Of all the places for a football player to get roughed up, it had to happen at a golf course.

"Anywhere, anywhere," Horn said after an early June practice. "It doesn't matter."

Horn doesn't take part in high-risk activities such as riding motorcycles or playing in any contact sport during the offseason. Playing golf is as risky as he gets. With less than a week remaining before the Saints report for training camp Thursday, Horn and his teammates plan to show up intact.

A number of serious, off-field injuries to professional athletes in recent years was on the minds of Saints players as they left minicamp June 11. They all had heard the stories, and players said they would avoid those kind of mishaps.

"We get paid a nice salary to do a job," linebacker Colby Bockwoldt said. "It's unfortunate when guys risk that for something that can wait until (they're) done with this sport."

Off-field injuries can occur as freak accidents, like earlier this year when Colorado Rockies shortstop Clint Barmes broke his collarbone carrying deer meat up a flight of stairs. They also can be ego-driven, such as when Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. tore his anterior cruciate ligament after losing control of his motorcycle May 1, ending his season before it even started.

Before Winslow, Chicago Bulls guard Jay Williams wrecked his motorcycle in 2003 and has not played since.

None of the injuries came as much of a shock to Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi.

"There is an invincibility to some of these guys," Venturi said. "Hopefully, guys will be responsible."

Any professional athlete interested in motorcycles can find a cautionary tale in Venturi. He started riding bikes more than 20 years ago when he was an assistant with the Colts, and has been in two serious accidents -- one in 1991 and the other in 2001. Both caused serious damage to one of his ankles.

"They would have ended my career," he said. "If I was a player, I would be very wary of it."

Venturi still rides, but advises his players against it.

"You're not going to catch me on no bike," running back Deuce McAllister said. "I don't ride motorcycles. You might catch me in the water doing a little fishing."

McAllister has added incentive to stay out of harm's way this summer: he is trying to have his contract extended. His life away from football has no impact in contract negotiations, he said.

"Obviously, there is language in there of different things you can and cannot do," McAllister said. "It doesn't go to the extreme of sitting in the house and do nothing. They still let you be a person and go out and live."

According to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, players are prohibited from engaging in activities outside of football that could lead to injury. But the contract's language is open to interpretation, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

"Teams can negotiate beyond the contract, as the Cleveland Browns did with Kellen Winslow riding motorcycles," Aiello said. "(Players) know if they get hurt doing something risky and dangerous, they won't get paid."

Bockwoldt said if he was running a team, he wouldn't allow his players to skydive or race around on a motorcycle.

"If I was the boss, I'd want to say, 'Hey, let's x that out. You won't be doing that,' " Bockwoldt said.

Still, some players place self-imposed bans on their non-football activities. Receiver Devery Henderson, a former LSU standout, grew up playing basketball, but he hasn't played since his senior year in high school because of injury concerns. He declines because of the threat of a knee injury.

"It's always in the back of my mind," he said. "Stuff like that, you've just got to be careful with what you do off the field."

Bockwoldt loves skiing the slopes of his native Utah. He hasn't done so since before the 2004 NFL draft. He had scheduled a few skiing trips earlier this year but didn't go.

"I guess I chickened out," he said. "There's too much to risk to be extreme. I plan on skiing for my whole life, but I'll wait until I'm 35 or 40."

For now, when he has some downtime, Bockwoldt will attempt to improve his golf game.

Horn can teach him how to deal with a bug on the green.

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