As the Denver Broncos' 2023 season inches closer and closer, one player fans will be looking forward to seeing back on the field is wide receiver Tim Patrick, who missed the 2022 season after tearing his ACL before the beginning of the regular season.
Though Patrick maintained that he has remained positive and is optimistic about his recovery, as he has dealt with major injuries before, ACL recovery is a grueling process that is surely both scary and frustrating to the player involved.
In many instances, players have not come back to the game the same player that they were before their injury. Until the player has been re-established on the field for some time, it is impossible to say if they will be able to compete with the same physicality they had before. Though it is unfair, an ACL injury is often used against a player in the media, and players recovering from an ACL tear seem to have as many doubters as they do believers.
Fans of Denver sports are all too familiar with this concept. Denver Nuggets fans surely have not forgotten when point guard Jamal Murray tore his ACL on April 12, 2021. Murray would not play another game until October 19, 2022, going 18 months without playing any meaningful basketball.
Considering Jamal Murray's insane "bubble" postseason, where he averaged nearly 25 points a game, there was strong doubt from the talking heads that Jamal Murray would come back to the Nuggets and make a strong impact on the team. In fact, the phrase "Did Jamal Murray leave a piece of himself in Orlando?" is still a trending Google search when researching the former Kentucky Wildcat.
However, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone and the organization trusted in Jamal Murray, and it paid off in a big way. Murray was a pivotal part of the Nuggets winning their first NBA title, and though Nikola Jokic has already established himself as an all-time great, the Nuggets would not have gotten to this point without the scoring efforts of Jamal Murray. During the presentation of the trophy, Murray recognized the team for supporting him throughout his recovery.
"Everybody on this floor believed in me... believed in me to get back to myself" (via Sports Illustrated).
Jamal Murray was out of basketball for a year and a half, and worked to get himself back and better than ever. Who says Tim Patrick can't do the same?
In fact, Patrick finds inspiration in Jamal Murray's journey. In a meeting with the press, Patrick had this to say on Murray's path from his ACL injury to becoming a world champion:
""Being able to prove people wrong and come back a better player than he was before and to win the whole thing was huge. It was a good sight to see for somebody that's playing in the same city as you that went through the same thing you did, and now he's on the mountaintop. So, it's definitely motivation to see him win." "- Tim Patrick
Before his injury, Tim Patrick showed all of the promise of a great wide receiver, or as much as he has been able to, despite Denver's offensive struggles. Patrick's consistency and physicality are really everything you want in a wide receiver, and Broncos Country knows just how valuable he is to the team.
Though Patrick is coming off of a tough injury, it is evident he has been working hard to get himself back onto the field to contribute to the team. Using Jamal Murray as inspiration, could Tim Patrick be the next Denver athlete to rise from the bottom to become a champion?
It's too early to tell, but don't count him out. People counted out the Denver Nuggets all season, and today, nearly a million people gathered in the streets of Denver for a championship parade. Somewhere down the road, we could see Tim Patrick and the Denver Broncos riding on the firetruck.
Never underestimate a motivated and talented player.