Every player that suffers a season-ending injury goes through a grieving process. Missed opportunities can be difficult to accept because a player has only so many over the course of a career that ultimately will end.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo faced that process after tearing his left pectoral muscle on Sept. 16. He found peace this week, a month after the injury.
“Realization that I’m not coming back,” Orakpo said. “There’s no way I can fix it to come back. I would love to come back and help out any way I can, but the facts are the facts. I’m out for the season. It’s something I have to deal with. I’ve dealt with it. Teammates helped me cope with it. The coaches gave me support. I’m just here just trying to support my guys as they go into battle.”
Orakpo had surgery to repair the muscle shortly after the injury. The two-time Pro Bowler won’t be at full strength until early next year.
Accepting his fate this season was difficult because it’s unfamiliar. Orakpo missed only one game during his first three NFL seasons, and he missed only five games in four collegiate seasons at Texas.
Now that his shoulder is out of a sling, he plans to be at Redskins Park more.
“I just want to be there for my team,” he said. “I felt like I let the guys down, but it’s something I can’t control. This week I was able to get over that. I’m just here just trying to support my teammates, trying to get the best rehab and the best treatment I can to better my body and get ready for next year and just still support the guys, still be around.”
The muscle affected him since he first injured it during the 2011 season season finale. He believes this surgery will repair the problem for good.