Playing hurt. It’s a common theme among retired athletes at this year’s American Century Championship.
Injuries during playing days seems to catch up with football and hockey players more than anybody else in the field.
The injuries range from hip replacement to lower back to knee injuries. There are aches and pains especially with any athlete, but more with retired players.
Jeremy Roenick, former NHL star and current NHL analyst, has a totally blown SI joint. The lower back injury affects several other areas of his body.
“Pain doesn’t bother me too much,” he said after Friday’s first round. “It’s almost, I almost enjoy having a little bit of pain involved. It reminds me of where I am.
“So I have a totally blown SI joint out right now and feel good swinging the club, but if I make a bad move, it’s going to tell me you made a bad move. It’s a good reminder. So, no, I’ve played with pain my whole life. I’m going to go the rest of my life in pain. So playing golf in pain is no problem.”
Sterling Sharpe had hip replacement surgery two years ago, and he’s dealt with prostate issues as well. He admitted he put off his surgery to play in the tournament two years ago because he enjoys coming to the event so much.
“Two years last week I had it done,” he said Friday. “I had it done the Thursday after the tournament two years ago, which was really the worst. I actually played well. I think I finished 10th. But it was awful because I couldn’t take any pain meds the week prior to surgery. But having it done, I needed to get it done, and my golf swing’s a little different. But I think it also helped. It’s a little better.
“I had some prostate issues earlier this year and got those worked out. So how do you put it? It’s pretty much the same thing, play a violent sport, you feel great when you leave the game and then the older you get it catches up with you.”
Sharpe didn’t play golf until after he retired from the NFL.
“I don’t know what playing golf is like without these screws in my neck,” the former Green Bay receiver said. “So for me you have the same — you’re stiff in the morning and you need to warm up and get the muscles going.
“But it doesn’t hurt to play golf right now. Like I said, my body has been through some things.”
Ex-tennis star Mardy Fish has had to deal with years of playing on concrete surfaces 98 percent of the time. He played in few clay or grass tournaments.
“I have a lot of tennis injuries,” he said. “We’re the only sport where we play on concrete the whole time, so we’ve got a lot of hip and ankle and knee stuff going on.”
Mike Modano is a lucky one. Not one of the biggest guys to play the game, he didn’t have any major injuries.
“I really got lucky,” he said. “I was really fortunate. I had a couple of good concussions, actually one from J.R. (Jeremy Roenick). So we had our tons of runs in with each other. We were pretty hard on each other when we played, him more so on me.
“It’s (hockey) a fast sport. Both sports (hockey and football) are so fast. You’re coming at each other 100 miles an hour and there are collisions and there are hits to the head.”
Modano said strides are being made to make both sports safer within reason.
“I think both games, they’re trying to do their best to correct it and improve it,” he said. “But it’s really tough to obviously totally take it out of the game. There’s accidental contact all the time.
“But for me, I just got lucky. Physically I feel good. I try to keep up with my health and nutrition and working out.”