US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis is turning out to be a House of Horrors for Packers fans. The Vikings cordially invited us to their housewarming party in 2016, only to send us back across the Mississippi River with our tails tucked like the kids who got picked last in 6th grade dodgeball. On October 15th 2017 Aaron Rodgers rolled right, and flicked a pass through the hands of Martellus Bennet, two steps before Anthony Barr arrived to crush the quarterback’s right clavicle and Super Bowl aspirations of millions of Packers fans.
From Lake Superior to Galva, Illinois, and across the Pacific to Quinn’s Packer Bar in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Packer Nation was consumed by a paralyzing depression. They lashed out at Olivia Munn, “If she hadn’t made him go vegan…” and played Brew-Pub MD. The optimists postulated that by way of titanium, super-human callous formation, and divine intervention, he’d be back in time to lead us to the Super Bowl. One particularly fatalistic mechanical engineer assumed the stance in the middle of a bar room, and demonstrated in detail how he’d never be able to make the throwing motion again and be forever banished to a broadcasting booth with Boomer Esiason.
On Wednesday, December 13th, the Wisconsin State Journal splashed the biggest headline since Armistice Day, Rodgers Cleared to Play! The armchair experts started anew. In the pre-dawn of Thursday morning, between sets of triceps pushdowns, Ty Neupert panted, “He’s nuts, man, there’s no way we’re going to the playoffs, and even if we do, our defense couldn’t stop Kenny, and he’s 70 years old.” Ty presides over my debt at the Bank of Lake Mills and is built like a free-safety, he oughta know.
About that time, a text message alerted me to a down cow. I pulled my coveralls over my Redwings and headed from the sweaty old gym into the pre-dawn. I captured the low-res magenta glow of the hoar-frost sunrise and asked “What would Ed Wollin do?”
My friend Scott Clewis is a medical malpractice attorney in Chicago. Hopefully you never require surgery. If you do, it will likely go smoothly. If not, call Scott. Ed Wollin milks cows and farms with his two sons Erich and Kyle, though they could have been equally successful modeling tuxedos. A few years ago they both had surgery to repair badly torn rotator cuffs.
Timeout for a quick anatomy clarification. I’ve heard The Rotator Cuff referred to as rotator cup, rotor cup, rotary cup, or my damn aching shoulder. Understood only by a handful of orthopedic surgeons, it is an assembly of muscles and tendons designed to keep the head of the humerus seated firmly in the rather shallow acetabulum of the clavicle. It is either a poorly engineered piece of anatomy or the Good Lord does not intend us to paint ceilings or play tennis because injuries, by way of repetitive motion or trauma, are very common.
Aaron Rodgers did not tear his rotator cuff. Scott and Ed did.
Ed had his wife Kathy drive him down to Fort Atkinson Memorial.
Scott called his colleagues and searched malpractice documents to see who had repaired the shoulders of other elite athletes, and been sued the least. He narrowed the list of Chicago’s most reputable physical therapists to five, and scheduled interviews with each (seriously). In order to remain productive, he downloaded voice recognition software that could translate opiate-influenced legalese and retained the services of a driver, assistant, and a nutritionist… for SIX weeks post-operatively.
I asked Erich and Kyle how long Ed took off after his surgery. “Are you kidding, he took the whole week.”
“Yeah, but I finally got these knuckleheads to weld an extra handle on the tractor, and figured how to shovel feed with one hand; then, I was good to go,” Ed defended his time on the PUP list.
I’ve worked for Tim Claas for nigh on to twenty-five years. You may recall my reflexes have been kindly described as “glacial”, yet so far I’ve avoided solid contact with flying feet. Then again, I only have to violate his cows long enough to diagnose their reproductive status. Tim has to milk them twice a day. Halfway through evening milking, he knelt to attach the unit to a fresh heifer who had yet to associate the claw and the soothing sensation of an oxytocin surge, so she stomped on his right foot. The snapping of his 4th metatarsal set of a litany of artful profanity, followed immediately by a plan. He called his wife Lisa and dispatched her. By the time he got done milking, feeding calves, and through the ER, Farm and Fleet would be closed, and they don’t open until 8:00 am. “They’ll put me in a walking boot or a cast, so grab three pairs of Tingleys size 12, 13, and 14, and keep the receipt.”
From the time he was twelve, Wayne Kasten missed 60 milkings. Which was half as long as the doctors who removed a foot of cancerous colon ordered him to stay out of the barn. Twenty years later, when his ostomy dehisced, he crawled half across the door yard to the barn. As they picked silage from his stoma, doctors and nurses speculated that another thirty minutes and he’d have been toxic, and dead.
It’s minutes until kickoff. Aaron Rodgers says he’s not coming back to save the season, he’s coming back to play quarterback.