Earlier this month, the Vikings gave guard Brandon Fusco the financial security he was looking for and a vote of confidence that he was their right guard heading into the future, agreeing to a five-year, $25 million contract.
On Wednesday, the Vikings placed Fusco on injured reserve after tearing a pectoral muscle in last Sunday’s game at New Orleans. While the offensive line has had its struggles in the early portion of the season, Fusco was a shining light at right guard, which made his season-ending injury such a personal letdown for him.
“It’s disappointing that my season has come to an end for me,” Fusco said. “I had high expectations for me this year and my teammates as well. I just have to go with the process of rehab and get the surgery. I’m getting it on Monday and I’m seeing a specialist in New York.”
Fusco knew immediately that there was something wrong, but he had never experienced an injury like that. Despite staying in the game for a couple more plays after, it became obvious that something was very wrong and he had to get to the sideline to see athletic trainer Eric Sugarman.
“I was blocking down on a guy on a play going away from me,” Fusco said. “The guy tried to fight over the top. I brought up my right arm and I just felt a pop in my chest. I knew something was wrong right away. There were two plays I played with it. I knew something was wrong because I couldn’t lift my arm.”
As Fusco was being tested on the sideline, he was unclear as to the extent of the injury because he had never been through anything remotely similar to the pain he was feeling in his midsection. It was only when the pain wouldn’t subside that he began to get concerned.
“I didn’t know it was serious, I just knew something was wrong,” Fusco said. “It was something I had never felt before, so I was concerned about it.”
Part of the problem for Fusco was that he had never suffered a significant football injury in his lifetime. He’s never missed time due to injury and going through rehab will be a new process for him. Just as disheartening for Fusco was that the injury came on the heels of his contract signing and the hard-nosed Pennsylvania kid with the strong work ethic was looking to start earning his money on the field, not in the trainer’s room.
“The contract was great, signing that deal,” Fusco said. “I just wanted to contribute for this team and put myself out there each Sunday and perform – show people why they had the confidence in me to get a deal done. It’s disappointing.”
The typical rehab projection for such an injury is about four months. Fusco has already been getting advice from teammates who have had to spend their offseasons rehabilitating injuries. He knew the odds were that, at some point, he was likely going to endure some sort of injury that could sideline him. Now that it has become a reality, he is looking to hit his rehab just as hard as he has taken on his job on the field.
“It’s part of the game,” Fusco said. “There are guys who have many different injuries and I’ve talked to them – what they did, how they coped with it and take their advice.”
Fusco may be gone, but he won’t be forgotten. He is still going to come to Winter Park every day and be a part of the team, even if it isn’t on the 53-man roster. He intends to show leadership to his young teammates and lead by example, even if it won’t be in the trenches.
“I’m always going to be around this facility,” Fusco said. “Even if I’m hurt, I’m going to help the younger guys and help the guys if I see something on film. I’m going to be at the practices and at games. If I’m not around I’ll drive myself nuts. I love the game of football and it’s good to be around with the guys and do as much as I can.”
Dealing with severe injury all new to Fusco
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