Darryl Drake just wants Johnny Knox to live a normal life.
The former Bears receivers coach was saddened to hear the team terminated Knox's contract Tuesday. Knox spent the entire 2012 season on the physically-unable-to-perform list following spinal fusion surgery and his contract was "tolled'' to the 2013 season because of his being on PUP in the final year of his contract.
"I admire him for what he has been through and his effort to try to make it back,'' Drake said Tuesday. "With something as devastating as what he has gone through, and when you look back at where he was and how far he has come, I'm proud of him.
"He had to work himself back up to where he could even walk. He had to work to get himself up out of bed. Hopefully, he'll continue to work and get himself back to where he can have the quality of life that he needs to have.''
In terms of football being a part of Knox's future, the outlook is bleak. Multiple sources with direct knowledge of Knox's status said he is unlikely to play again because of the extent of the injury coupled with his slight build.
Technically speaking, the 6-foot, 185-pound Knox suffered a thoracic- lumbar junction fracture-dislocation with neurological involvement after being bent backward on a hit from 6-foot-3, 282-pound Seahawks defensive end Anthony Hargrove during a Dec. 18, 2011, game at Soldier Field. Put in simplest terms, Knox cracked his mid-back and sustained significant nerve damage.
Srdjan Mirkovic, the Bears' spine consultant and an orthopedic surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, performed a one-level vertebral fusion on Knox one day after the injury. The initial prognosis was four to six months of a recovery just to perform normal activities, and even longer before Knox could return to football.
That projection changed when additional soft tissue damage was discovered during surgery. Knox's back was unstable, and there was more ligament damage than anticipated.
Bears release receiver Knox
Chicago Tribune | Feb 13