A single play can completely transform a player's career. One hit can end a season or even worse, a career.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completely tore his ACL in the first quarter of week one of the 2008 NFL season against the Kansas City Chiefs. As I was discussing the game live with many Patriots fans, I knew that they were in a state of shock. As someone familiar with football injuries (since I've had and seen so many), I knew that his season was over.
For Patriots fans, the world had come to an end. Their Super Bowl dreams were all but dead as they watched their star quarterback writhing in pain on the ground that day. They'd go on to an 11-5 record that fell just short of making the playoffs in the AFC.
Over the NFL season we've all heard and read various reports on Tom Brady's injury, the next seeming to always contradict the last. The latest one that I've read myself has him doing very well. Which begs the question: Is Tom Brady going to be effective?
I personally think he will be. Effective enough to lead the Patriots to the playoffs and win the 2009 NFL Comeback Player Of The Year award.
Tom Brady still has all of the key pieces around him to be effective, even if he loses mobility, which he definitely will - knee injuries stick with a player, it won't effect him on most throws. Granted I said most, as a quarterback still has to push off of his leg to throw the deep ball.
Look at his surroundings.
At wide receiver you have one of the best duos in the league in Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The offensive line is anchored by Logan Mankins. Running back by committee is no truer anywhere other than New England. A defense that's still very capable of winning a game should they choose to show up. Not to mention the man who's caused Patriots fans to ask the question "Adam who?" - Stephen Gostkowski.
Is he going to throw 50 Touchdowns again? More than likely not. Is he going to be the same Tom Brady who we all know and love (or love to hate)? Probably not. But barring any major setbacks in the recovery process, Tom Brady is still in my eyes the best quarterback in the NFL.
He brings so much to a team that most other quarterbacks could only dream of bringing. Setting his physical abilities aside he brings an air of confidence and leadership that benefits any team. He was the lone quarterback that was able to get Randy Moss out of the "me, me, me" era. He has two Super Bowl Most Valuable Player trophies under his belt and led the Patriots to an undefeated season that was ultimately cut short by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Take it for what it's worth but in my eyes, Tom Brady is going to be the 2009 Comeback Player Of The Year.