Thom Loverro: In NFL, recovery time shorter than ever

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Sports,NFL,Thom Loverro

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson recovered from a torn ACL with unprecedented speed to have one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, rushing for 2,097 yards and leading the Vikings to the playoffs.

"His ability to heal is probably different than mine or yours. His work ethic. His determination. His faith. He just has all these factors that, when put together, allowed him to accomplish what he has almost a year out from this terrible injury," Vikings trainer Eric Sugarman told the Associated Press last month.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs came back from surgery on his right Achilles tendon with unprecedented speed to contribute to the Baltimore Ravens' playoff run.

"What Terrell Suggs did is amazing," teammate Jameel McClain told the Baltimore Sun in October. "It still baffles me to this day."

Fellow Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, at the age of 37, tore his triceps in October and had surgery. There was some thought his career was over. But he returned to lead the defense with 13 tackles in Baltimore's playoff win last week over the Indianapolis Colts.

"I was supposed to be out for the year, but God had a different plan," Lewis said after the game.

Robert Griffin III seems to have picked the perfect time to tear up his knee.

It's the miracle NFL, where players heal like never before. Work ethic. Determination. Faith. God. All cited as reasons for damaged and broken players doing amazing and baffling things. Surely some or all of them played a role.

But in this age, even the players themselves know that recoveries like these bring suspicion.

"People were going to think I was juicing or that I was on HGH or steroids," Peterson told USA Today last month. "And I've heard that several times, and every time I hear it I just smile because I told myself that people would think that based on how I was going to come back. I heard it during games, out in the media world, in the social media world, and it makes me smile."

There's a reason he heard that.

Testing for HGH was supposed to start in the first week of the 2011 season. But in House Oversight Committee hearings last month, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland accused the NFL Players Association of trying to back out of a commitment it agreed to in August 2011.

"To me, it seems obvious that the players association is simply running out the clock," Cummings said. "Although they agreed to HGH testing, they are now trying to back out of the contract."

The clock, though, may have stopped for the NFLPA on Thursday with the news that Major League Baseball, along with its players union, agreed to random HGH testing.

"The implementation of robust testing programs will protect the integrity of professional sports, as well as player health and safety," read a statement from Cummings and committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa.

Only at that time will those suspicions go away in the NFL.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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