Earlier this afternoon, Tim Brown of Yahoo tweeted that Prince Fielder had undergone a successful cervical fusion procedure, and was in recovery. Later, the Texas Rangers official Twitter account also broke news of the successful procedure, adding what we already knew, that Prince is likely out for the remainder of the season.
In recent days, I've seen much criticism of the front office for having not noticed the neck issue before making the trade official. It's a criticism I disagree with, but what has bothered me most is the speculation that the neck issue is one that will keep Prince Fielder from ever being productive again.
It's something I haven't seen mentioned -- if it's been covered elsewhere, I've missed it -- but the procedure that Prince underwent today is the same one that revived Peyton Manning's career in Denver.
When Manning missed all of the 2011 season due to neck issues that caused numbness in his throwing arm, many speculated that he was done. Of all the buzz phrases used to back up that claim, many pointed to the fact that doctors said they needed to wait on the nerves to regenerate. Many thought, "Well, that doesn't sound good." However, there were also those that had undergone the procedure before that said it was a miracle cure.
One interesting piece I recalled reading recently -- and I had to go back to find it -- was one written by Coy Wire for Fox Sports back in January. Wire, a former linebacker/safety and current NFL analyst for Fox Sports, discussed some of his experience with the same surgery. While he mostly talked about the procedure as it relates to Peyton Manning's career, one specific area of the piece, in which he talks about the hurdles of getting over the procedure, caught my attention.
This is psychological anguish, the pain you’ve already been through that haunts before each game. You try to shake it, but it’s always there. You remember the deep ache and throbbing pain just after surgery; the time you accidently tilted your head too far, causing a wince, even though the neck brace is supposed to prevent it; the pain felt during rehab sessions that tested your will; the writhing pain after a simple sneeze.
Now, Wire was able to go on to continue playing three more years. It remains to be seen how many more Peyton Manning will get. Yet, Prince Fielder won't get running into guys with a full head of steam. Nor will he be taking blindside hits from some outside linebacker or defensive end.
If Peyton Manning can still be an elite quarterback after the procedure, I just can't understand why all the angst over Fielder and speculation that he'll never be productive again. Maybe he wont, but it that's the case, I'm betting it won't be because he had neck surgery.
Perhaps it's because many have yet to put the two together and realize exactly what procedure Fielder had. Whatever the case, I find it a bit shortsighted for people to already claim that the Prince Fielder trade was a bust. It's going to seem fairly silly if he returns next season and puts up an .850-.900 OPS while hitting 30-plus home runs. And if/when that happens, I'll be right here, reminding folks that there was nothing to worry about. If Peyton Manning can do it, so too can Prince Fielder.