In this year so far, which has sucked ass down to the molecular level - to the point where if I spent today as the guest of honor in the prolonged torture scene from every Mel Gibson film and was put to bed in a room swarming with Murder Hornets and rapping Max Kellermans, I'd consider it a dramatic upgrade - any news that doesn't make me lose the will to live is welcome.
And so it's more than welcome to hear great news from David Andrews.
The Patriots center has sneaky been one of the great success stories of the Dynasty era. And undrafted rookie free agent who just got named a starter on the Pats All Decade Team despite only playing four seasons. A two-time Super Bowl champion. The guy who helped anchor the middle of the line in Super Bowl LIII that held two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald to one solo tackle, zero sacks and one QB hit. While also holding Ndamukong Suh to one solo tackle, zero sacks and two hurries.
All of which meant things were going swimmingly until he was heading into his fifth season. That's when he was told by doctors that he had a pulmonary embolism, basically a blood clot in his lungs that causes a blockage in one of his arteries. Basically the kind of thing you see in drug commercials when your mom is watching "Diagnosis: Murder" where an old couple takes a walk in a field and paints birdhouses and the list of possible side effects takes 30 seconds. In other words, not a condition you expect to see in a 27 year old athlete. And it had to be terrifying.
None of which is meant as the good news. That's just to set the scene for the good news. Which came from Andrews himself in a conference call:
Q: Are there any restrictions for you going forward? What have the doctors told you about the potential of a recurrence?
DA: I’m not really sure if there’s a real restriction on anything. I haven’t been told that. Part of it was the medicine I was on and I’m off that medicine, so I can go about living my normal life. The recurrence thing, that’s something unfortunately you can’t really pin down, so I’m just going to go about my life, keep playing this game and doing what I can, stay as healthy as I can. I think it was just kind of a freak accident thing.
Q: What was it like for you when you were told you could return to playing football? How much relief was that for you?
DA: I mean, it’s great. That’s what I want to do. I came here to play football, and not being out there – anybody that’s hurt, not being out there, even if it’s just for a week or whatever it may be, it’s tough on an athlete. We want to compete, we want to be out there, and so when you can’t do that, it’s obviously frustrating and tough. So, it was great to finally get that. Like I said, I just want to move forward now and look forward to 2020.
Beyond that, Andrews took a pass on other questions pertaining to things like whether he'll have restrictions when it comes to high altitudes and so on. He just reiterated he has no more medical concerns and the doctors have cleared him.
This feels a lot like some other serious health problems Pats players have faced. Tedy Bruschi's stroke comes immediately to mind. Cancer diagnoses involving Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon both. Those illnesses that go way beyond whether they'll ever see the field again into whether they'll see their 40th birthdays. And all three of those guys came back in a surprisingly quick fashion and kept playing at a high level for full seasons and will probably live longer than Galapagos tortoises. So on a personal level, words can't express how good this was to hear.
From a football standpoint, it's the best possible news for the 2020 season. Easily one of the biggest question marks as we into the offseason program was the middle of the line of scrimmage. Ted Karras performed reasonably well subbing in for Andrews last year, and got $4 million to snap the ball to Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. The Pats didn't address the center position in the draft until the 230th pick. So getting Andrews back is mission critical. Especially in this era where it's more common than ever to employ versions of the Giants old NASCAR front, sliding outside pass rushers inside to create mismatches and collapse the pocket from the middle. A healthy Andrews between one of the top guard pairings in the league in Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason will be an integral part of Jarrett Stidham's development in a post-Brady world. Not to mention my own mental health.
Go congrats to David Andrews. And thanks to 2020 for taking this brief rest from kicking us in the nads. If you could keep this up for a little while, that'd be great.