10.6 million dollars.
That’s what the Dallas Cowboys paid Anthony Spencer for last season. A season in which he was put on the injured reserve list in September after recording all of 2 tackles in 34 snaps of regular season action. It was announced in early October that Spencer would be forced to undergo microfracture knee surgery.
I’ll allow Dr. Jonathan Cluett of Orthopedics.About.com explain what the surgery entailed:
Microfracture is a surgical option used in the treatment of areas of damaged cartilage. When a patient has a small area of damaged cartilage, microfracture may be performed in an attempt to stimulate new cartilage growth.
A microfracture creates small holes in the bone. The surface layer of bone is hard and lacks good blood flow. By penetrating this hard layer, a microfracture allows the deeper, more vascular bone to access the surface layer. This deeper bone has more blood supply, and the cells can then get to the surface layer and stimulate cartilage growth.
Several high profile professional athletes have had the surgery including: Tracy Mcgrady, Jason Kidd, Amar’e Stoudamire, Matt Kemp, Kellen Winslow Jr., Marques Colston, and Reggie Bush.
While some have recovered from the surgery and played sports at a fairly high level again, there has been no athlete that has recovered to play CONSISTENTLY at his pre-injury performance level. On a case by case basis, some level of success can be attained post-surgery but sustaining that level of play is the tricky part.
There has been no precedence as of yet for consistently providing the same pre-injury performance.
I don’t mean to rain on Anthony Spencer fans having picnics in his honor around the world but he will not be the same player that he was in 2012 or even 2011 or 2010. However, I go on record with my tongue firmly planted in cheek as stating that he will be better than he was in 2013.
There will be flashes of his former effectiveness but they unfortunately will likely be few and far in between. His body just will not allow it after a decade plus of football both professional and collegiate at the highest levels.
When talking about recovery from microfracture surgery, a players injury history pre-surgery must be considered.
Dr. Jeff Dugas of the renowned Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama explained:
If the cartilage defect is isolated and there is no other pathology in the knee, the success rate of microfracture surgery is very high in terms of getting a healthy tissue to grow, if there is associated meniscal damage or widespread arthritis, the success rate of microfracture surgery decreases.
The sad truth is that this isn’t Anthony Spencer’s first problems with the same knee. Just at this time last year it was announced that he would undergo an arthroscopic procedure after originally injuring it during the 2013 offseason.
When one gathers all of the evidence it is clear that the Cowboys cannot count on Anthony Spencer in 2014.
Now for the good news. Spencer isn’t being counted on in 2014. His contract only guarantees him 250,000 dollars this year with a potential earning of 2 million dollars if every incentive is met. Dallas seems to have covered themselves pretty well. The drafting of Demarcus Lawrence and the retention of George Selvie means that anything Anthony Spencer can provide is a bonus.
It hasn’t been a promising start for Spencer so far. He has been placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list for the start of training camp. Spencer had this to say to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News
We haven’t even really talked about preseason, so if I’m ready for it, I’ll be ready for it. We’re really only on a timetable with my body and where I am. I’ve been feeling good.
Not exactly promising news. Can Spencer get on the field and be effective enough to help Dallas this year? This writer has his doubts. How do you feel? Sound off in the comments section!