Sometimes it's not the physical pain that hurts the most, but the pain of knowing that no matter what you do, your season of football for the Denver Broncos has officially come to an end.
Such was the case for running back Mike Anderson, who made an appearance at Dove Valley on Tuesday to speak with the media regarding his season ending groin injury.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Anderson told reporters. "I'm still trying to come to grips with it. Right now, it's bothering me real bad."
Understandably it's a huge disappointment for Anderson.
After a solid off-season conditioning program that left the former Marine twenty-pounds lighter, Anderson had hoped to move into the teams' top running back position, a goal he had set long before training camp had opened up. His strong performance throughout the preseason, backed up by a 120-yard rushing performance against Seattle, left many insiders feeling that he just may reach his goal on the team's first unit.
Then came the final two minutes of a meaningless game against the Houston Texans, and Anderson stepped up for punt return coverage as a replacement on special teams. Sadly, it was a play that the fifth-year veteran shouldn't have even been involved in.
"A freak accident," Anderson explained. "It's just one of those things that just happened to me. I don't know how many times I've done that, covered down a punt. I don't know how many times I've done it in practice. Basically it was just me trying to get out and get into my lane and get into the field and cover the punt."
While there's no hostility as to why he was in the punt coverage lineup to begin with, it doesn't make the pain of ripping two groin muscles away from the bone feel any better.
"When I heard the pop, I thought I'd broken my leg," Anderson said. "Then when I was able to move my leg when I was laying down there on the field, I said, 'OK, it's not a broken leg, what else could it be?'
"I'd never had a groin injury, so that thought never came across my mind. To find out that it was a groin and the severity of it, I was like, 'How can that be?' It didn't feel that way. A day later it didn't feel that bad. But hey, it is what it is."
Which leaves Anderson with a years' worth of rehabilitation ahead of him.
Along with an uneasy season of pacing the sidelines, chewing sunflower seeds and watching his friends and teammates work toward a dream that only six days ago had been the primary focus of his life.
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