Labrum injury holds no assurances

It was as bad as many feared. The Chargers were hopeful that the prognosis would be positive but it was not to be. Drew Brees will be shelved for at least four months recovering from surgery on his torn labrum.

The Chargers quarterback was upbeat on Monday after the initial prognosis from team doctor, David Chao.

He will visit Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion and may ask the renowned orthopedist to perform the operation. Drew Brees will make the determination between Andrews and the Chargers physicians based on the information he obtains.

Brees will fly to Birmingham, Al. on Tuesday to meet with Dr. Andrews and would like to have the surgery complete by the end of the week.

With a four-month recovery – perhaps the quick-recovery program – he would return in time for May minicamp.

The only problem, of course, is where he will be then. The Chargers decision is now muddled. Do they franchise the player, not knowing how he will respond to the surgery? Do they attempt to sign him to a long-term deal?

According to Brees, the surgery means nothing to his contract status. Rose-colored glasses it would appear. He must have forgotten the NFL is a business.

"In my mind I don't think anything has changed," said Brees before adding, "I am serious. I feel like I am going to come back better than ever."

Unfortunately, no one knows how he will respond.

Of the 36 major-league pitchers diagnosed with labrum tears from 1999-2004, only one player, reliever Rocky Biddle, returned to his previous level. Of course, Biddle tore his labrum again at the end of the 2004 campaign, missing all of 2005.

How does it translate to football? It likely depends on the extent of the damage.

"Six weeks of doing nothing to let things heal," Brees said of the rehab process. "Gradually get things back to strength. For a guy who makes a living throwing the football, you get that kind of movement, torque. You have to get the movement and range of motion back."

But will it be the same as it ever was? Or will Brees, not known for his arm strength, see a noticeable difference in the zip on his throws?

Brees said he burned up the minutes on his cell phone and it is easy to see why. Not many have reportedly made a full recovery from this type of surgery with Rich Gannon one name that did come up. But is it the same injury?

What was once an off-season fueled by the odds that one of these quarterbacks will be traded is now filled with what will the Chargers do knowing Brees won't be ready to throw until May?

"All that is going to be speculation," fellow quarterback Philip Rivers said of the situation. "I am sure there will be a different report every day for the next six months."

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