THE MORNING AFTER: For eight minutes, the losses didn’t matter
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Just a few days after saying he would “tear the Giants (expletive) up,” the outside linebacker found himself brought to tears.
Raw emotion, it seems, isn’t just reserved for motivation in the National Football League.
It was a candid moment in the fourth quarter captured by NFL on Fox cameras. With a horizontal move of the head side-to-side, Pernell McPhee had a tear in his eye as he looked down the field towards the dozen people huddled around his teammate.
The concern was on his face, along with many others, as the athletic trainers slowly lifted Leonard Floyd off the green turf at Met Life Stadium onto the orange neck board. Blank stares came from the offensive and defensive players as eventually the rookie was lifted up onto the cart to be taken to a waiting ambulance.
“Just praying for his safety,” said cornerback Tracy Porter, who watched the athletic trainers work on Floyd during of the fourth quarter of the Bears’ game with the Giants on Sunday. “Praying for his health.”
He did so, like most of the Bears, for eight minutes.
That is the time from the moment that Floyd’s helmet struck the side of teammate Akiem Hicks while going for the tackle on Rashad Jennings till the cart rolled into the tunnel at Met Life Stadium. In the middle was an eerie silence that brought about a unique mindfulness in the zenith of the madness of a tightly contested November NFL game.
“It makes you take a step back to look at the situation around and how blessed you are to play this game and take each snap serious,” said linebacker Danny Trevathan, who was low to the ground on his legs with his head down after the injury to Floyd. “I hate to see a young guy like him that works his tail off and such an impact on this team go down.”
Such a moment, where a player’s health and well-being are unknown, stirs up a lot of emotion. Football is no stranger to serious neck injuries in which a player’s career, whether long or short, can come to an instant end. What would become of the Bears’
What would become of the Bears’ first round pick who came into the game playing the best football of his young career with three-straight games with at least a sack? Was it serious enough of an injury that it could keep Floyd from moving his legs or limbs? While NFL on Fox cameras caught Floyd moving his extremities shortly after the hit, the crowd of people around the player left hist teammates a bit in the dark.
“It’s fairly difficult seeing a young guy who was making strides like that,” said Young of Floyd who would eventually be cleared at an East Rutherford-area hospital and fly back with the team. “It’s definitely tough, but I’ve been around enough, but that’s just the game we play.”
One they kept playing for the remaining 5:53 seconds on Sunday afternoon even after the injury.
Like many times before the defense made their stops down the stretch but the offense couldn’t produce any points as the team fell to 2-8 for the first time in 14 years. A season spiraling downward got even more bad news when tight end Zach Miller was ruled out for the rest of the season with a broken foot. Meanwhile offensive lineman Josh Sitton’s ankle injury late in the game casts double on his future availability.
These problems, created at Met Life Stadium or before it, aren’t going anywhere. But for eight minutes on Sunday, and maybe just those eight minutes, they were put into the proper perspective that rarely comes in a regimented mindset of professional football that rarely takes a look at the bigger scope of what’s at stake.
“We all live with it and everyone in the locker room kind of battles through things throughout the year, but when you see those different, those injuries that are scary,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “It kind of puts things in perspective a little bit and you kind of see how important each guy is to each other in the locker room.”
McPhee, the team’s fiercest competitor, would agree. He’s got the tears to prove it on a day he was determined to tear up the competition.