EI Interview: Ricky Brown Part I

Ricky Brown has always been under appreciated as a football player. Coming out of high school in Ohio, his only Big Ten offer was Northwestern. Once he arrived at BC, however, he became one of only four true freshmen to play that season. Ricky went on to become a two-year starter at linebacker and led the team in tackles his junior season.

He is not always mentioned when discussing recent standouts at the linebacker position. Ray Henderson, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Mark Herzlich and Brian Toal are the names most commonly discussed. In the 2005 NFL draft he went undrafted and signed on with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent.

"I was being told anywhere from a fifth to a seventh round pick. Basically when you are around a fifth to a seventh, sometimes even a fourth round pick, to me there are no guarantees that you are going to make the team. So then everything goes to finding your fit and I fit in with the Raiders perfectly.

"Went there right out of college and the Raiders have a really fast linebacking corp so that helped me, because speed was my deal. My linebacker coach for my first three years is now in Denver, Don Martindale, he really helped teach me the game.

"Every day I look at myself and say am I getting better or am I getting worse, and for the first three years just kept climbing the ladder. Now I have a new coach, Mike Haluchak, who has coached tons of pro-bowlers and coached in the NFL for almost thirty years. So I have really enjoyed working with him and he is a tremendously hard worker which is something that I love and respect because I go to work every day just like him."

"Obviously having the big headline of being a drafted guy is awesome, especially when you don't get drafted and you are just sitting there answering calls from different teams that want to offer you an undrafted free agent contract. Obviously you are going to be a little bit down, but it all comes down to playing and making plays. That is what my agent told me when I signed with the Raiders. You just have to go out there and do your thing. And everything has worked out, thank God."

Here it is four years later and Ricky Brown is still with the Oakland Raiders having even become the starting "Sam" linebacker last season for the first seven games before his season was ended with groin and abdominal injuries.

"When I originally hurt my groin it was just a strain, but through the rehab I actually ripped it completely off because the groin wasn't being stabilized because the lower abs were messed up. It was really tough for me not to be able to play in the games.

"Being a football player you want to be out there with your teammates and win football games. That part was tough for me but it made me a whole lot mentally tougher, going through the rehab. I have the utmost respect for athletes that go through serious rehab because it is not fun in the off-season doing rehab when you can be laying on the beach somewhere."

What made it even tougher for him to deal with his injuries was that he had finally realized his dream of becoming a NFL starter, and was just settling into the role, making eighteen tackles in the prior two games before his injury.

"I was the opening day starter out of camp and things were going well, I kept just moving up. It basically is what it is, I plan on picking up right where I left off last year."

This upcoming season Ricky isn't sure if he will be back starting at the strong side, in the middle, or if he is being looked at to be the all important versatile back up at multiple positions.

"They have actually been working me at middle linebacker. I'm not sure what is going on as I know we have a good starter at "Mike" in Kirk Morrison. I know that I can play the "Mike" really well, so wherever the coaches want me I'll be ready to go."

Ricky is just happy to be back on the field and feeling great. His injuries last year were like something he had never had to deal with before. A fully torn groin along with a sports hernia is not fun. This past off-season he underwent surgery.

"The surgeon who did it, Dr. William Myers out of Philadelphia, he actually developed this injury known as the sports hernia. It's actually not like any other hernia, he was like 'I don't know why I named it a hernia, but I guess it sounds good now.' He told me last off-season, in April or May during my offseason workouts, I probably tore my abdominal wall, my lower rectus abdominis which is my lower abs.

"He said my pubic bone in my pelvis is where the rectus abdominis attaches on the inside and the groin attaches on the outside. He said to think of your abdominal wall fraying like a rope and then as that side wasn't able to pull its weight, my groin was overcompensating, and that is when halfway through the season my groin popped."

"They didn't think that I had a sports hernia, but two months later I found out that I did because I kept trying to rehab it and it just wasn't working out. Finally went to Philadelphia after the last game and doc told me I had a sports hernia and my groin was torn off the bone. He sewed everything up and I had a four month rehab, and I can't express how happy I am with how the rehab went. I feel awesome and I'm out there 100% feeling good."

Prior to around ten years ago, nobody had even heard of this diagnosis of a sports hernia. Now it is heard very often with athletes. Ricky elaborates on how his doctor became the go to guy in this field.

"Dr. Myers was actually a doctor and a teacher at Duke University and he kept seeing these athletes have career ending injuries, all of sudden their groin was hurting and it wasn't getting better. He was actually a liver doctor and then he just saw a need. He is so incredibly intelligent."

When he isn't playing football, working out, or doing a dreaded rehab, Ricky is simply content with the people he loves and the beautiful sight of blue water.

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