By Jean DePlacido
---- — Most people would be extremely discouraged, but not former St. John’s Prep and Vanderbilt star linebacker Jonathan Goff. For the second time in less than a year Goff tore his ACL before the NFL season even began, but he vows to come back stronger.
What makes the injury all the more devastating is it is the same knee he had surgically repaired 10 months ago after tearing the ligament just before the start of the 2011 season when he was a member of the New York Giants.
This time it happened in practice with the Washington Redskins, the team Goff signed a one year contract with during the offseason. A few days after the injury he was released.
“My plan was to go through rehabilitation and come back next season,” said Goff, who lives in Peabody. “It is literally the same injury and happened the same way as the first one. I had my foot on the ground planted, and my leg bumped right into the other guy. There was contact right on the knee.
“I broke on a pass (to intercept), and then tried to veer off from the collision, but it was too close and the knee got bumped. It happened during one of the first practices. Last year when I got hurt I was running, and there was a collision. I heard it pop, but felt it was just a bruise because I felt fine until the MRI showed the tear. It was the same thing this time with my leg planted, and I kind of had a feeling it might be my ACL. I hoped it would just be cartilage. I got up and walked off, but when pictures were taken sure enough it was torn.”
Goff has had surgery and is in Florida doing rehabilitation work at the Andrews Orthopedic and Sports Rehabilitation Institute, a state of the art, world class facility.
“When Wes Welker (Patriots receiver) tore his ACL a couple of years ago, he came to the same place,” said Goff. “Wes was able to come back the next year (2011), and he didn’t miss a beat. I’m looking for the same thing. The Redskins training staff felt I was really working hard. I busted my butt getting in shape for this season, and I have never felt better. They all knew how hard I was working, and everything was going great. It really had nothing to do with injuring it again. No matter what would have gone on before, with that type of contact anybody would have torn the ACL.”
Goff, who has always been one of the hardest workers on any team he has played for, has been through the long rehabilitation process so he knows just what to expect. In fact, he feels that gives him an advantage.
“I’ve had a string of bad luck, but that’s part of the game,” said Goff, who was drafted by the Giants and played four seasons, earning the starting middle linebacker job in 2010. He played in every game and had 80 tackles with 54 solo.
“I will be rehabbing to get ready for 2013. I’m a free agent, and I’m not sure where I’ll be playing. Right now my main focus is on getting the knee healthy. I’m ahead of the curve right now, and everything is going great. I know what to expect every step of the way because it was only 10 months ago that I had to start the whole procedure the first time.”
Goff, who graduated from the Prep in 2002 and earned All-SEC honors at Vanderbilt in 2006 and 2007, has a Super Bowl ring as a member of the champion Giants, and that is something he will always cherish.
“Getting that ring was great,” he said. “We had a nice ceremony, and it was very special. I’m really not discouraged about this injury. I’m only 26 years old, and that’s still young for an NFL player. I know I have a lot of good football ahead of me.”