When Jordyn Brooks tore his ACL in the Seahawks' Week 17 win over the Jets, he was told the usual timeline for recovery was somewhere in the range of nine to 12 months. That would have meant Brooks missing the start of the season, and he decided then and there that he wasn't willing to accept those estimates.
"I kid you not, I just never believed that," Brooks said.
And now, less than eight months after having the January 19 surgery he had to repair that torn ACL, Brooks will be on the field when the Seahawks host the Rams in their season opener. Even by the standards of modern medicine and with world-class athletic trainers and doctors at his disposal, the speed of Brooks' comeback is remarkable.
"It's amazing," fellow linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "I hope we don't just pass on it like this is not a big deal. That's an extremely big deal, something that we should definitely applaud, definitely appreciate, and acknowledge. That's not easy. Having that type of injury, coming back and being ready for the first game. I think when he got hurt, I don't think anybody thought he was going to be ready for this first game. To be in that position, looking great, moving great, it's an accomplishment in itself. I really hope we as a world don't just look over like that's an easy thing."
Looking for an example of other players who returned from a late-season ACL injury, Brooks came across the story of Adrian Peterson, who tore his ACL in December of 2011, then came back to rush for more than 2,000 yards on his way to MVP honors the next season.
"Honestly, that's who I was looking at, that's who inspired me," Brooks said. "I was pretty young when he did that, so I didn't know about it at the time. But I was looking it up on YouTube, like, who else has been through this. I saw Adrian Peterson, I saw his story, and I felt like, 'I can do the same thing.'"
And after all the months of recovery and rehab, Brooks will appreciate the run out the tunnel on Sunday a little bit more than he might have in past seasons.
"Absolutely," Brooks said. "I love football, man. It's the only thing I've done in my life, so having seven months of sitting down, missing it, not being able to go to OTAs, missing most of training camp, it's going to be special to be back out there."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt both noted that the team will be careful early on because Brooks missed much of camp and the preseason, so he could be on a pitch count, so to speak, but Brooks said it will be difficult to come out of the game even if he knows it is the right thing to do.
"We've had those talks," he said. "They're going to have to come drag me off. I'm here to compete, and I'm just excited to be back. Knowing me, once I'm out there, I don't see myself coming out. I can definitely see myself playing 60 snaps, but at the same time, we've got to be smart, so we'll see how much I play."
Hurtt, who saw his former University of Miami teammate Willis McGahee come back from a devastating knee injury to have a long NFL career, sees similarities in the two athletes for the way they came back, though McGahee's injury was more complicated and required a longer comeback.
"Just like freakshow-type stuff," Hurtt said. "Jordyn's that kind of athlete, so it speaks to God-given ability, God's grace, and obviously his work ethic. A great job with that rehab team here, and I know the people he's used to get himself back so it's really an impressive feat to get him back as quickly as he came."