By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Even while inactive with the first major injury of his athletic career, Brian Hoyer applied what he learned from Tom Brady, his mentor with the New England Patriots.
When Brady had major surgery to fix a torn ACL in 2008, he was seen but not heard from. Hoyer didn’t join the Patriots until the next season, but he took the cue from Brady.
Hoyer tore his right anterior cruciate ligament on Oct. 3. On Wednesday, he spoke with media for the first time. And the last, he said, until next year.
“I don’t feel IR (injured reserve) guys should be talking to the media,” Hoyer said. “But I wanted to get that message out there – that I’m doing great. I want to thank everyone for their support – the fans, the whole city. Obviously it was an awesome 2-3 weeks for me. I look forward to getting back.
“The support from the whole organization, from the top down, from the fans and the city as well … it really means a lot. It’s kept my spirits up during a difficult time. Every day I’m getting better.”
The nightmarish end to his storybook season was difficult to handle, Hoyer admitted. The North Olmsted native and St. Ignatius High product had seemingly turned around the season of his hometown team with wins in his first two starts in Games 3-4.
In Game 5 in the nationally televised Thursday night affair against Buffalo, Hoyer suffered the injury on his second series. Sliding at the end of an 11-yard run, Hoyer caught his cleat on the FirstEnergy Stadium grass while Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso was crashing into his upper body.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever been on a field where I couldn’t get up on my own,” Hoyer said. “I knew then something was up. There was no pop or something like that. I just had a sensation where I tried to get up, and told myself to just stay down till they came and got me.
“My cleat got stuck and I got hit at the same time. I think if either/or would have happened on its own, it probably would have been fine. But I got my foot down a little late and that’s when he hit me.”
Hoyer said he reviewed video of the play to see how he could have avoided the injury.
“I felt there’s really not much different I could have done except slide a little sooner,” he said.
The Browns overcame a 10-0 deficit to win that game, 37-24. They have lost three in a row since.
The three starts was the first extended stretch in Hoyer’s four NFL seasons that he was able to prove he could play at a high level.
“It’s been the most disappointing thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.
“I hope I was able to bring a spark and get this team going. I think that was accomplished. For me, the hardest part was things were going really well and it gets taken right underneath you. I’m looking forward to getting back and that’s what drives me every day I come in here. That’s what motivates me to get back.”
Hoyer became a dad a second time three days before the surgery on Oct. 18.
“I had a baby on Tuesday and surgery on Friday,” he said. “Obviously I had one of the best moments in my life with my daughter being born and Friday you go in and I’ve never even had a surgery before. A little nerve-wracking.”
He said he has been doing light exercises and stretching to keep the muscles around the knee from atrophying. Every day there is something new added to the regimen, and he is encouraged that everything is going well.
The silver lining was there was no other damage to the knee other than the ACL, and that should speed recovery. He said the normal recovery time for a simple ACL procedure is six to eight months. That would take him between April and June. He is unsure if he will be 100 percent for the start of training camp at the end of July.
“I don’t know about 100 percent,” he said. “You have to see how it goes, but that’s what you have to shoot for. Hopefully, at some point you get back to 100 percent. It is a significant knee injury and I understand that.”
Hoyer is still walking with the aid of crutches. He said as his knee improves, he’ll sit in on meetings, study the game plan, watch practice and “support (quarterbacks) Jason (Campbell) and Brandon (Weeden).”
But he won’t be talking to media. He stopped the interview in mid-question after 7 ½ minutes.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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