Monday, February 11, 2013

MelAnChoLy in Minnesota Part IV: Reconstructive Surgery

Adrian Peterson tries out his reconstructed knee against the Jaguars. Find out how the folks at the Ligament Graveyard dealt with his amazing comeback season below.

John watched as the last of the contractors exited the graveyard. His gaze lingered as the gate swung shut slowly, and audibly. John took a deep, cold breath, satisfied that he was finally alone. His breath condensed into a vapor around him as he exhaled. He turned around to face the effigy of Al Harris that had been warming his back, and held out his hands close to the smoldering straw man as he tried to regain some feeling in his fingers. It was barely five in the evening, and the sun had already gone down; not unusual for this time of year in northern Minnesota. As his hands warmed up, John looked over at the massive limestone structure nearby, which until a few minutes before, had housed a half dozen independent contractors as they renovated the building. The contractors had just finished the final touches, and as head groundskeeper at Greenwood Cemetery in Virginia, MN, it was John’s duty to inspect the work done on the cemetery’s most brilliant mausoleum. 

The mausoleum in question resides in the most popular, and certainly most striking, sector of the Greenwood Cemetery: the Christopher Pratt Honorary Ligament Graveyard. Minnesotans from all corners of our fair state travel to Virginia, MN to visit the Ligament Graveyard, and to reflect on the games, seasons, and careers of Minnesota players and teams that have been torn apart by ligament damage. Groundskeeper John focuses most of his energy on the Ligament Graveyard, as it is the most visited area on the grounds, which explains his guarded excitement at the idea of outsiders reconstructing the graveyard’s most emblematic structure. 

As John began to walk toward the structure, he heard the gate open and a voice call after him, “Hey John, you goin’ to go check out the mausoleum?”

John immediately recognized the voice as that of the young assistant groundskeeper Tommy.

“You can’t call it that anymore, Tommy, it’s an honorarium now.” was John’s gruff reply.

“A what?”

“Just come with me, I’ll explain.”

The large, limestone building that the two men were approaching used to be known as the Adrian Peterson Three-CL Mausoleum. Now, however, just a year after its commemoration, the entire thing had been reconstructed, rehabilitated and renamed, to the Adrian Peterson Superhuman, Superhealing Superstructure.

The two men made their way through the large center entrance, one of three leading into the building, and Tommy asked about the practicality of three large entrances.

John answered, “Well, first of all, this place is going to be one of the most popular attractions in the state, and secondly, each entrance represents one of the offensive linemen that opened up running lanes for Adrian this past year. You’ll notice we just walked through the Sullivan entrance. There’s also the two large entrances to the side, Kalil to the left and Loadholt to the right. And you see right there? There are the Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco Memorial security guard stations.”

“Why is the floor made of asphalt?”

“Because they were road graders, Tommy. All five of them.”

AP consistently credited his offensive line and fullback throughout his record-breaking season

They stood for a while in the entryway, gazing at the purple and gold decorations, admiring photographs of some of the greatest runs of AP’s season, while listening to recordings of Paul Allen announcing each big play. After a bit of silent reflection, the two of them turned and started walking down the main hallway of the Superstructure. 

The asphalt pavement continued down the length of the hallway, which was lined with limestone columns. The spacing of the columns created alcoves along the side of the hallway, with each alcove honoring a different aspect of Adrian’s amazing recovery.

The first alcove housed a portrait of Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon that performed the knee operation on Adrian Peterson. Neither man said anything, until Tommy noticed the logo of a sponsor on the bottom of the portrait. “What does Gerber baby food have to do with any of this?”

“Because, according to this man, Adrian’s knees were like those of a newborn baby.”

“Hmm, that’s kind of a weird way to describe a man’s knee.”

“Yes it is, Tommy, yes it is.”

The two groundskeepers continued down the hallway until Tommy stopped and stood at the next alcove, perplexed by the life sized figure of a man, standing with arms folded, made completely out of sugar.

“OK, I don’t get this one either.”

“Oh, come on, son, you’d better start getting this one. This is Eric Sugarman, head athletic trainer for the Minnesota Vikings, and the man most responsible, outside of AP himself, for the incredible recovery of our beloved running back. He deserves his place here in this hall.”

Further down the hall, in the next alcove, stood a simple felt-topped poker table. 

“Why is this here? AP’s not a gambler” wondered Tommy.

“No, he isn’t. This table isn’t here for poker. It’s here to memorialize Pro-Bowl fullback Jerome Felton, the man who ran in front of AP and set the table for many of his big runs” was John’s response.

“Really? A felt tabletop for Felton? A sugar statue for Sugarman? Who comes up with this stuff?”

“One of the Ligament Induction Panel members. I think he goes by Silky.”

“Wow, someone actually takes time to think of this stuff? They’re so bad, it’s torturous.”

“He prefers to call it pun-ishment.”

“Mother of God.”

After John and Tommy recovered from their unfortunate analysis of the memorial choices, they reached the end of the hallway, and marveled at the sight. There, on a raised dais, was a life-sized marble statue of Adrian Peterson himself. Flanking him on one side was his Most Valuable Player trophy, and on the other was his Offensive Player of the Year trophy. 

Your 2012 Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year

After a moment of quiet contemplation, John spoke, his voice barely a whisper. “Never in the history of sport has a man gone from such a completely devastating injury to winning the highest individual honor in his sport in the short amount of time that this man has done it. To tear his ACL and PCL, both of which used to be honored in here, and to come back and almost break the single season record for rushing yards on one surgically reconstructed knee, is unheard of. Turn around a moment, son.”

They both turned and looked back down the hallway. “That hallway is exactly 27 feet long. Nine yards. The exact distance that AP fell short of the record. And the outside of this building? They extended it to 60 feet long, and just under 35 feet wide, which gives it an area of 2097 square feet, the exact number of yards that AP finished the season with.”

“So this place really was constructed to celebrate Adrian Peterson’s recovery, huh?”

“Reconstructed, Tommy, and with surgical precision.”

As Tommy and John left the building, they couldn't help but reflect on the Superstructure's original purpose. Its construction a year before heralded a dark time in Minnesota sports history. The greatest player on the most popular team had just gone down with a devastating injury. The future looked bleak, not only for Adrian Peterson, but also for the Vikings, and the state of Minnesota as a whole. The former mausoleum now stands as a memorial to one man's indomitable will to heal and return and achieve success that was never before thought possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment