Quality Player, Quality Person

All you need to know about the character and quality of Adam Bednarik is this: After going through painful shoulder surgery and learning that football is out for the 2006 season, he was concerned that he hadn't returned a phone call in what he felt was a timely manner.

Bednarik, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery two weeks ago, was apologetic when he finally connected for his first interview after his operation. Never mind the fact that the Bethlehem, Penn. native was in severe pain, or that he wasn't in a condition to speak with anyone coherently immediately following the event. He simply wanted to make sure no one thought he was ignoring the messages that had been left for him.

Such personal responsibility makes Bednarik an outstanding leader on the Mountaineer team. He has displayed such qualities again and again in the face of adversity. No matter the obstacle or setback, the tough quarterback has continued to battle to make himself the best player and person he can be.

All this makes Bednarik very easy to root for, which make the travails he has undergone at WVU even more painful to witness. This last setback will cost him a year of his career and sideline him for at least nine months.

"It was mostly just frustrating, to hear that I would miss this year," Bednarik told BlueGoldNews.com. "When you want to be out there and be part of team, and you can't do it, it's hard. No matter what's going on, whether it's spring practice or workouts or whatever, you want to be a part of it, and it's difficult when you can't."

Bednarik did everything he possibly could to avoid missing the 2006 season. He worked diligently at every rehabilitation exercise prescribed by the WVU training staff, but in the end his diminished physical capacity was just too much to ignore.

"I was rehabbing it all along, but I could tell it just wasn't quite right," Bednarik said as he described the painful path to the ultimate decision to have surgery. "At the end of spring, the trainers felt like I had made some progress, but I felt it wasn't 100% right – so I just wanted to get it fixed and perform at 100%. So, I got another MRI and decided to get the surgery.

"Even at the start of last year, I wasn't 100% in the Syracuse game," he said. "I'd say I was never more than 75% the whole season. I don't know if it was one thing or one hit that caused the injury initially. I think it was just the pounding and cumulative effects of the whole season.

"There's one other thing that bothers me – I haven't been able to experience a game at 100%," the competitive leader continued. "Being that I'm a throwing quarterback, it was frustrating knowing how I used to be able to throw the ball. I wasn't able to throw like I know I can. I did all right last year, but in the back of my head I know it wasn't 100%."

So, a couple of weeks ago, Bednarik went under the knife. His surgeon, Dr. Palumbo, who also consults for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, "cleaned everything out", according to Bednarik.

"One of the other things he did was open my shoulder capsule up, which should help my range of motion," Bednarik added. "I had lost some of that, and he thinks this will help a lot."

Now that the operation is out of the way, the long and difficult process of rehabilitation begins, with at least six to nine months is forecast for recovery. That timetable, which might prove to be ambitious, would allow Bednarik to participate in spring practice next year. Meeting that schedule depends in large part on his healing powers, which is something that can't be affected by an exercise schedule or diligence in the weight room.

"It all depends on how my body reacts," Bednarik said. "We just have to see how I respond to each step. I'm starting out now with some light stretching and range of motion exercises, and we will see how it goes from there. I can't say if it feels any better yet, because I'm still taking pain medicine."

Even though he knows he won't be on the field this fall, Bednarik still plans to be at the Mountaineer Football Complex this summer. He will join his teammates for the second summer session, which begins on July 3rd, and will try to assist in the development of the young quarterbacks.

"I will try to do what I was doing all spring -- mentor the younger guys and try to be a leader that way. I've been there a few years and I know the system, so I will try to help anyone any way I can."

In a way, Bednarik has a model to work from as he tries to fill that role – his roommate from a year ago.

"J.R. House and I became close last year, and I learned a lot from him and how he handled his situation," Bednarik explained. "He was great with us. He had been through everything with being a professional baseball player and then coming back to college, and I gained a lot of knowledge from him on how to handle myself."

It's safe to say that House also learned a few things from Bednarik, who handled his injuries last year with grace, and never whined or complained about losing his job as a result of them. The way in which he continued to support his fellow quarterbacks and conducted himself had a great positive impact on the team.

Just as he did when he seized the starting quarterback job at the beginning of last year, you can expect him to fully embrace the quite different role he will fill for the Mountaineers in 2006. Bednarik doesn't complain about the fate he has been dealt – and plans to make the best of the latest trial he faces.

"I just try to stay positive," she said when asked how he deals with the many setbacks he has faced. "I have a strong faith in God, and believe things happen for a reason. My family has been with me every step of the way, and my friends support me too. If I just keep a strong mind and work hard in everything I do, nothing can stop me."


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