Getting through a career-threatening injury can be scary, almost to the point of mental paralysis. Denver Broncos deep-ball threat KJ Hamler has certainly had it tough coping with his personal injury nightmare, but he wasn't alone.
When Hamler got back to the Broncos facility to jump start his rehabilitation process, he found in Courtland Sutton a kindred spirit and inspiration to mount his recovery. Sutton had to come back from a torn ACL suffered back in 2020, and he leaned on Von Miller along the way, so he knows how crucial it is to share your feelings and even anxieties.
Sutton also admitted it takes time to get a routine and a unique headspace that works for you, but as he went on to explain, once Hamler started to find some of his own answers, the dark clouds began to disperse.
“The isolation of the injury is something that I think is what hurts a lot of guys mentally throughout the process of going through a rehab,” Sutton told Broncos TV last week. ”Being able to find that groove that works for you, I’m pretty sure that everyone’s found a groove that works for them a little bit different. I think he found his groove, and once he found his groove he was able to be, ‘Alright, I’ve got this.’”
By simply sharing his injury story, Sutton let Hamler know that he wasn’t the only player to deal with fears and frustrations along the path to recovery. With the outdated perception that professional athletes cope with fear and pain better than mere mortals, Sutton was quick to expel that particular myth when he talked about the difficulties of the recovery process.
“Literally, the other day we had a conversation the first day he went out and ran. You know, I remember the first day,” Sutton explained. “All the thoughts that are going through your mind, thinking if you are ready, thinking if your body is going to hold itself up for you. The pain of that first day, and then the frustrations of being like, 'Okay, I’m starting it, but I’m not exactly where I want to be.' And understanding that it’s all part of the process. I think him handling it the way he did that speaks volumes.”
Attempting to win the mental battle is a subject that Hamler has already been brutally honest about, and in Sutton, he has a brother who fully understands just how difficult things can get. Taking on board the idea that the time spent away from the game can also be harnessed and used positively to make you a better all-round player is difficult at first, as Sutton admitted, but in the end, it’s extremely worthwhile.
“When I was going through the process, I was just saying, you know this is a way for me to be able to almost reset and be like, alright these are the things that I’m going to work on,” Sutton revealed. “You can almost see he didn’t lose himself, he’s still him, but he’s also able to find like that little level of maturity of, ‘Okay, if I really want to be able to do, say what I want to do, I have to lock into this.’”
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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