Rocky Calmus: Keeping the Faith

Colts linebacker Rocky Calmus was literally down-and-out as a result of a cruel hamstring tear just a week after arriving in Indianapolis. But he's determined to be stronger and better than ever before.

Ask Colts linebacker Rocky Calmus what you should know about him as a person, and his reply conveys that there's no doubt that he knows exactly who he is.

"First and foremost, I'm a godly man and a godly husband and now 15 months into it, a godly father," Calmus told ColtPower during a recent interview. "Football really doesn't define me, it doesn't make me the person I am. It's really just a part of my life and how I provide for my family. 

"But at the same time, I love football, its what I do, and it's a passion."

Strong and heartfelt. In every phase of Rocky Calmus' life you can tell that he has conviction, clarity, and strength of purpose.

And that's serving him well as he deals with a second serious hamstring injury within the past two years. Ironically, both injuries happened with Colts players nearby. Last December, as a member of the Tennessee Titans, Calmus' season ended during a game against the Colts. This year, just a week after joining the team following a trade, he tore his other hamstring.

"Mentally it was really frustrating at first," Calmus said. "My beliefs, my faith, my Christian background were tested. 

"I was really frustrated and didn't understand why it happened again. But I believe that God has his reasons for why this happened and why he's putting me through make me stronger. I've got good support around me so I'm going to keep working at it."

The move to Indianapolis occurred suddenly, just before final cuts were being announced around the league. The Titans had decided to try to trade the former Butkus Award winner, who they had picked with the 77th selection overall in the third-round of the 2002 draft. The Colts, very familiar with Calmus' tenacious playing style and experience as a starter with a playoff-caliber team, invested a conditional draft pick to add his talent to their linebacker corps and special teams. They reportedly gave up their 2006 seventh-round pick, which would have been bumped up to a sixth-round selection had Calmus met specific playing time conditions this year.

Suddenly, Calmus had new teammates, new coaches, a new city, and a new routine. And part of that change, in addition to a simple chinstrap repair, could have contributed to the event that ended his regular season before he even got to play one down of football.

In Tennessee, he was used to warming up for 45 minutes to an hour before practicing. But in Indianapolis, the routine was different. He had about 15 minutes to get loosened up. And on the day of his injury, he noticed he needed to get the chinstrap on his helmet fixed, further reducing his stretching time. 

A bit later during practice, on a punt return drill, Calmus ended up in an awkward position in the flurry of activity. 

And then he felt a simple tug on his hamstring.

"I thought it was just a mild pull," he said. "I got up, I was walking -- but limping a little bit. So I thought it was just a mild strain or pull. 

"Last year I had basically the same injury (to his other leg)...but they both felt different. This new one I felt wasn't bad because it didn't feel anything like my old one"

But it was just as bad. The tendon had pulled off the bone, so it had to be reattached surgically. Doctors used titanium screws to repair the damage. 

"It's a pretty major injury," Calmus said. "I don't know where you'd classify it in comparison to something like an ACL or torn up shoulder, but it's not a simple knee scope or ankle sprain."

And the rehab is anything but simple as well. Four to six weeks on crutches to allow the tendon time to reattach to the bone. And then the player is left with a leg that is very weak.

"You've got to get it back to normal strength, if not stronger," Calmus explained. "Then you start working on the flexibility because there's a little bit of scar tissue and you can get tight. So those will be the two main things to work on during the rehab process."

Despite the incredible toll of having two hamstring injuries over the past twelve months, Calmus remains optimistic, determined, and can even find the silver lining in the dark cloud.

"The last two seasons have been bittersweet because I was able to spend a little bit more time with my son and get to watch him this first year," he said. "So I can always take that from this injury. That's one blessing in disguise."

Calmus, like many professional players, doesn't spend a lot of time reading what the media is saying about him. He focuses on playing football to the best of his ability. But his family, friends and agent shared with him the enthusiastic response by Colts fans following the trade based on comments they saw on fan message boards and in articles. For Calmus, that also ended up being bittersweet.

"That was very encouraging and it made it just that much better coming here," he said. "It's heart-breaking for me to not be able to get out there and show them (the fans) my ability on the field. But hopefully I'll be able to show them next year."

The answer to that question is just a few months away when Colts President Bill Polian and Calmus' agent, Mark Slough, will likely discuss a new contract. Polian has already expressed interest in seeing the original trade fulfilled by having Calmus suit up as a Colt in 2006.

"We're looking forward to having him with us next year," Polian said.

Check back on Thursday for a Premium Members' exclusive feature with Rocky Calmus where he'll provide his thoughts on re-signing with Indianapolis. And he'll also share some of his observations from his first days in Indy, on Peyton Manning, and a surprising bit of information about another experience he had with the Colts prior to joining the team.

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