Johnny Knox appreciates the way Bears treated himContinue reading.
Johnny Knox: “God has better plans for me”
Johnny Knox suspected he’d never play football again, but he didn’t come to that conclusion until Wednesday morning, the day after the Bears terminated the final year of his contract.
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When we met Wednesday, I couldn’t help imagine being in his position: Achieving his dream then having to abandon it at the age of 26, after a horrific injury that required spinal fusion surgery. Physically, he looked fit, about 12 pounds under his playing weight of 185 pounds. But Knox admitted he wasn’t comfortable sitting or standing.
Yet he wasn’t the least bit bitter.
How was he staying so positive?
“My whole life, I’ve always been positive, and people ask me, ‘Man, why are you so positive?’ I’ve never looked at things negative. I asked people, ‘Is that a bad thing?’ They told me, ‘Nah, it’s a gift.’ ”
Indeed it is.
Take his physical condition.
Although he was a fifth-round pick, Knox established himself as a playmaker with elite speed. Now he walks with a limp, but you won’t hear him complain. He’s grateful to be able to function as a father and husband, even if he can’t run and catch like he used to.
That, in part, is why he’s moving on.
“As an athlete, you don’t want to give up, you want to keep on fighting. That’s how I’ve always been,” Knox told me. “But it’s been on my heart for a while. I know how my body feels, and I know I’m not going to be the same and perform at the ability that I used to.”
Knox’s faith is an inspiration and example of how to deal with adversity.
“God has better plans for me,” Knox said. “He wouldn’t put me in a situation that I couldn’t handle. I have a lot of opportunities out there. I got some nice things going on so I’m just looking forward to that.”
So what’s he going to do next?
He isn’t sure, but he’s an initial investor in a new supplement company, Healthy 74, and he’s scheduled some overseas, goodwill trips. Mostly, though, Knox has a simple goal.
“I’m wide open to anything that helps others,” he said. “I want to teach others what I’ve been taught. I don’t know much, but I know a little so I want to give back.”
The NFL has been painted in a negative light lately, as it relates to players and injuries. But the Bears handling of Knox is admirable. They could have cut him at any point during the 2011 offseason, yet they insisted he stay in the area and paid him his full salary. General manager Phil Emery also informed Knox of the decision in a face-to-face meeting Tuesday morning and invited him to visit the facility or attend games whenever he wanted.
“I applaud him, and I’m grateful he did call instead of hearing through a text, or a phone call or through my agent,” Knox said of Emery. “He called me in and told me what they were doing. He told me I’m always welcome around the organization.”
And football fans can also be cast poorly, yet Bears have overwhelmingly shown support for Knox, displaying sensitivity to his gruesome injury and encouraging him whenever they see him.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Knox said of the fan support. “I’ve been through some things, and fans have just been behind me tremendously. They’ve shown a lot of love and support. It’s just unbelievable how they’ve been behind me, through such a tough time and through my rehab and my situation now.”
The natural reaction is to feel sorry for Johnny Knox. But don’t. He’s not.