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Remembering When Todd Gurley Gave Me The Most Uncomfortable Moment in my Reporting Career

Let's get this all on the table. I love Todd Gurley. I watched him in awe as a phenom at Georgia and was lucky enough to be up close and center as he became the marquis player on the first NFL team I ever covered.  

It gives me zero pleasure to see him cut. But... I do feel a little vindicated that my instincts (and frankly everyone else's instincts) were correct as it pertains to his knee. 

Let's backtrack to the 2019 Super Bowl. Rams vs Patriots. Atlanta, Georgia. It was media night, and the question on every journalist's mind at the time was "how healthy is Todd Gurley... really?"  At that time, I was indeed, a journalist for a mainstream news organization, reporting, you got it, the news. 

I ran into former Ram who was still around the team and we were talking about just that topic. All of a sudden he said, very casually I might note, "Todd Gurley better get this Super Bowl because I bet he's not even in the league in three years." 

That shocked me. This former player thought not only did Gurley have problems in his knee, he thought those were serious enough to eventually stop him from being able to play altogether.

Then I ran into Gurley's back-up who had been getting 1st team reps for the last bit of the season and into the playoffs. Mr. C.J. Anderson.

I asked him about Gurley's knee. 

Me: "Is he healthy?"

CJ: "Yeah."

Me: "All the way healthy?"

CJ: "Yeah". 

He then went on to tell me that Todd's knee is definitely not swollen. Hmmm. 

Fast forward to the Super Bowl. Gurley: 10 attempts for 35 yards. He only ran the ball 3 times in the first half. 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? And after the game, EVERYONE had the nerve to STILL say Todd was fine. 

Then the Rams drafted a RB in the 3rd round. Hmmm. An odd thing to do with a guy like Gurley on the squad. 

Fast forward to the ESPY's Media Day last summer. Reports came out that Todd Gurley's trainer confirmed that there was an "arthritic component" to his knee. I knew my producers were going to have me ask about it. I knew I wasn't going to get much information. I also had empathy for him. In a sense, I didn't really want to touch the hot stove, but alas, it was my job.

We started out talking about the Los Angeles NBA News that just went down. Kawhi, PG, AD… Showtime was back. He was in a silk set of pajamas. He asked me if I liked them. Things were going very well until I had to pivot to asking about his knee.

IT WAS THE ELEPHANT in the room. And when I asked, it became the most uncomfortable, news-making interview I've ever done. 

I expected him to not answer about his knee, what I didn't expect was to be "gaslighted". Medical doctors had confirmed that there was something wrong, but according to Todd, I was the crazy one.

At the time I got crushed on social media for pressing him about something so ridiculous. I didn't want to be right. I really didn't. I wanted Todd to really feel great and continue to have the success we all know he is capable of. 

But with the sadness that comes with Todd being cut from the Rams, I do feel like this chapter has been closed and the "mystery" solved. The breadcrumbs were there and I wasn't an asshole to believe that something was seriously wrong. Instead, I would have been an asshole (and an idiot) to trust an evasive running back who had a history of knee problems, claiming nothing was wrong with his knee.

I really do hope that Todd can continue to play football. At his best, as a runner and a pass-catcher, there is no one quite as electric as him. If you're a fan of football like I am, the game is more fun to watch when he's out there. If, like the former Ram so bluntly pointed out, this is the end of his career, I truly wish him well in all his future endeavors.