Holcomb's Injury Brings Back Memories

Today, Bernie talks about Kelly Holcomb's injury and offers his thoughts about a similar moment in his career. In 1992, Bernie suffered an ankle injury, and the decisions made then have effected him for the rest of his life. Get a perspective that you won't here anywhere else - only on Bernie's Insiders!

I'm glad the Browns decided to rest Kelly Holcomb after he broke his ankle in the San Francisco game. It could prove to be a move that will pay off in the future and I'm not really talking about football.

As I watched Kelly's face twist in pain, I felt it, too.

I'm reminded of the play that broke my ankle all the time. Every time it rains, my ankle aches. Every time I stand, I can still feel something not quite right with it. I have to shift my weight constantly because my ankles, both of them, feel unstable.

Seeing Kelly's pain takes me back 11 years ago to a Monday night in at the Stadium. We were playing the Miami Dolphins in front of a national television audience. It was the first quarter and we were running a roll-out pass play. I was throwing a comeback and Dolphin linebacker John Offerdahl hit me and broke my ankle. It hurt but I wasn't about to leave the game. Like Kelly, I played on.

I could see the look in Holcomb's eyes that day. I know the look well. He was into the game. He wanted to win just like I wanted to win that game against the Dolphins. He didn't want to let his teammates down. At that point, he wasn't thinking about the future. I know I wasn't when it happened to me.

My ankles were always taped. It was an absolute rule with some of my coaches. In my view, you have to tape your ankles. Because my ankles were taped though, I was afraid to take the tape off after Offerdahl rolled me. I knew the ankle would blow up like a balloon and that would keep me out of the game. So, I kept the tape on.

The next day was absolute torture. I had to go to the Cleveland Clinic to get my ankle checked out. I literally crawled to my car that morning and crawled into the hospital to get my x-rays.

In retrospect, I didn't handle the situation well. I played to win that game but probably jeopardized my career and the success of the team for the remainder of the season.

The Clinic correctly recommended that I have surgery on my broken ankle. I didn't take their advice. I figured I needed to be back on the field as soon as possible and surgery would set me back. Again, the decision to play was my call. The Browns and the Clinic gave me excellent adviceŠ get the surgery. I didn't. It was a bad move.

I started to practice on the side, even though the Browns tried to discourage me. I wanted to play. In my view, my place was on the field, under center, not under a knife. I came back, but I broke my ankle again that year in a game against the Steelers, on the turf in Pittsburgh, forcing me under the knife as had been recommended earlier by the team doctors.

I will feel the effects of that decision for the rest of my life. Remember this; sometimes, coaches have to help players from themselves. I ALWAYS thought I could play. I know Kelly feels the same way. Butch and the Browns need to protect Kelly from himself right now.

I hear the term "non-weight-bearing leg injury" and I laugh. A "little" broken bone is still a broken bone. Holcomb needs time to heal. It's in his and the team's best interest in the short and long term.

The Browns can and will start Tim Couch at quarterback. Not many teams in the league have that type of quality in their back-up guy.

Couch handled himself like a true professional when he lost his starting job. He didn't pout and whine. He was a leader on the sidelines and a confidant to Holcomb. He also kept himself ready to go. His actions have earned him the respect of the players, coaches, organization and, I hope, the fans.

Remember what I said in a training camp column about the quarterback competition; it's not who starts the season, it's who finishes it. The team is in good shape with Couch at QB while Holcomb heals properly.


The OBR Top Stories