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Throughout his college and brief pro career, Brodie Croyle’s trademarks have been a strong arm and calm demeanor. Unfortunately, he’s also garnered the reputation of injury prone. The Chiefs may have some reservations about the future of their third-round pick, but perhaps they shouldn’t.
Everyone wants to discuss Croyle’s injury history, but nobody wants to mention just how resilient he’s proven to be.
In 2000, during the first game of his senior high school season, Croyle was hit by a Glencoe High defender and tore his left ACL. He would sit out the rest of that season before graduating and heading to the University of Alabama.
Despite the knee injury, Croyle still received interest from several top-flight SEC schools prior to choosing his father’s alma mater. The Crimson Tide weren’t fazed by Croyle’s rather serious ligament tear – on the contrary, they felt he would heal well enough that his talent still warranted a spot on the roster.
Croyle red-shirted his freshman year at Alabama and earned a spot as the top backup the following season. The subsequent year, Alabama named Croyle the most improved freshman, after starting two games in 2002. The mental and physical memories of his high school knee injury must have faded considerably.
Then disaster struck again during Alabama’s 2003-2004 campaign - Croyle suffered a separated shoulder before half time of the fifth game. Despite that, Croyle started the next week against Georgia only to re-aggravate the injury, but still only sat out one game that season, and did not reveal to the public he had also suffered two cracked ribs.
John Croyle (Brodie’s father) told former Tide head coach Mike Shula, “You've seen him play with one arm - just wait until you see him play with two.”
Croyle ended that nightmarish 2003 season playing 11 full games, passing for over 2,300 yards and 16 touchdowns. Alabama finished 4-9, but Croyle was named the team’s MVP and received the Derrick Thomas Community Award. What’s a couple of cracked ribs and a bum shoulder? Play on.
The next season began well enough for Croyle, but in the third game of the season against Western Carolina, Croyle’s ACL was torn yet again in the first series of the third quarter. Out the rest of the season, Croyle watched from the sidelines as the Crimson Tide finished at .500.
Undaunted, he fully recovered from the ACL injury and blew the top off Alabama football in 2005, leading the Crimson Tide to a 10-2 mark, punctuated by his school record 2,499 passing yards. Croyle led his team to a Cotton Bowl win that year and lingering effects of Croyle’s two knee injuries, if any, were not apparent as he repeatedly set Alabama school passing records.
For every Brodie Croyle injury that has occured, there has been a Brodie Croyle comeback story that followed. Rehabbing through two torn ACLs, a separated shoulder and a couple of cracked ribs to end up today relatively healthy is a testament to Croyle’s toughness and his will.
Croyle’s injuries aren’t necessarily a product of his size or skills, either. Just about any player can fall victim to a torn ACL - a bad cut on a run, a lineman rolling on a knee or a blindside hit – every player fears it. And don’t forget that Croyle’s offensive line at Alabama was just as terrible as KC’s current unit.
Moreover, every NFL player gets injured to a certain degree at some point in their career. It’s the nature of the game. What’s important is how a player reacts to and recovers from that injury.
Now fast forward to the 2007 season. Croyle, in his first start at Arrowhead Stadium, injures his kidney early one afternoon against the Oakland Raiders, but finishes out the game. After missing one start, Croyle returned for the next three games, only to injure his hand last week against the Detroit Lions. His status for the final game of the season is questionable.
That’s how Croyle’s season will end - with a question. No one is quite sure what the future holds for him, but by all accounts he will be in Kansas City next year. What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess.
But with the franchise in a major transition period, hopefully the conversation in Kansas City can shift from indicting Croyle on future injuries to recognizing his amazing resiliency. He’s earned it.
Like what you’re reading? There’s more at Arrowhead Pride, Chris Thorman’s long-running Chiefs blog site.