FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Vinny Curry noticed dangerous information coming. As he walked off the sector after the New York Jets’ ultimate minicamp follow final June, the defensive finish was approached by crew docs and athletic trainers. Curry was struck instantly by the involved seems to be on their faces. After weeks of revitalizing work together with his new crew, every thing was about to go darkish.
Docs had found a excessive platelet depend in his blood, and so they needed him to retake his blood check and go for an MRI — an imaging examination that confirmed their suspicions. Curry’s spleen was enlarged and wanted to be eliminated as quickly as attainable. Due to a beforehand identified blood dysfunction, it had swelled to the vary of 28 to 32 centimeters, greater than twice the common measurement.
“My spleen was really on the point of burst,” Curry recalled in an interview with ESPN. “It was a kind of, ‘Are you F’ing kidding me?’ moments.”
After lacking the 2021 season on account of issues within the aftermath of his splenectomy, Curry returned to the sector this week for the beginning of OTAs. In a second of reflection on the primary day, he took a knee, gave thanks and made positive to soak in every thing.
Almost one yr after final yr’s well being scare, which might’ve been life threatening if it hadn’t been found, Curry is again and extra decided than ever.
“Nobody loves soccer greater than Vinny Curry,” Jets common supervisor Joe Douglas mentioned. “Nobody.”
Curry, who turns 34 on June 30, has performed a number of soccer (121 video games) and has received a number of video games over 9 seasons, together with a Tremendous Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles. He does not must do extra to stamp his profession successful, however he is on the market sweating and conditioning with males 10 years his junior.
“One factor about me: I don’t take life without any consideration,” he mentioned. “I am glad to be right here and nonetheless be doing what I like to do.”
Curry was born with thalassemia, a uncommon and inherited blood dysfunction that causes the physique to have much less hemoglobin than regular, in keeping with the Mayo Clinic. Thalassemia may cause anemia, which might result in fatigue. Curry mentioned his situation falls “underneath the sickle cell class.” One of many signs is an enlarged spleen.
He at all times managed it, from his highschool days in Neptune, New Jersey, to his faculty profession at Marshall, to the NFL.
“I’ve had this blood dysfunction my total life,” mentioned Curry. “I used to be born with it. Over time, the spleen was simply rising.”
The Jets’ docs made a terrific catch. The spleen, particularly when enlarged, can rupture with a direct hit to the stomach. Dr. Babak Sarani, a professor of surgical procedure at George Washington College Hospital in Washington, mentioned a ruptured spleen may end up in “a life-threatening hemorrhage pretty shortly.” Curry mentioned he by no means permitted himself to ponder the macabre, what-if eventualities, though he admitted, “It was a sickening and darkish time for me as a result of I didn’t know what was going to occur and what the longer term held.”
His spleen was eliminated a couple of weeks later, in July. At that time, Curry supposed to play in 2021, so he began coaching — too arduous, because it turned out. He additionally stopped taking his medicine — a “miscommunication,” he known as it — leading to a blood clot.
That analysis, final August, ended his season as a result of the blood thinners that had been prescribed meant bodily contact was prohibited. Curry was devastated. He felt helpless and bored. As a substitute of burying quarterbacks, he planted a rose backyard, considered one of many family actions he adopted to move the time.
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“A rose backyard!” he mentioned, nonetheless incredulous. “Come on, man!”
Curry stayed concerned with the crew, offering behind-the-scenes management whereas vowing to make a comeback. First, he needed to get wholesome for his spouse, Daphne, and their two youngsters, ages 5 and a couple of.
“I am a household man first,” he mentioned. “The spouse is studying about this at house with me, pondering, ‘You could possibly presumably die.’ As for my profession, pardon my French, however ‘F— the profession, I am simply making an attempt to get wholesome.'”
Former Pittsburgh Steelers security Ryan Clark skilled the same ordeal in 2007. Due to issues from the sickle cell trait, Clark underwent a splenectomy at age 28 earlier than returned the next season and enjoying for one more seven years. Earlier than surgical procedure, he weighed a dangerously low 160 kilos due to the an infection in his spleen. His gall bladder and a part of his liver additionally had been eliminated.
Clark, now an ESPN analyst, known as it an “extraordinarily, extraordinarily severe” situation, however he mentioned the soccer participant’s mentality is to get again on the sector as quickly as attainable.
“Although I used to be a lot youthful than he’s, the one factor you may take into consideration is: If I can prepare, if I can stroll, if I am medically cleared, then why wouldn’t I play?” Clark mentioned in a telephone interview.
Clark mentioned he altered his food plan and his coaching program, took nutritional vitamins and noticed a homeopathic physician twice a month. He had no hesitation about returning to the sector, saying, “None in any respect. For me, I used to be like, ‘I am wholesome now. They took out what was killing me.'” Curry mentioned he is dwelling “a standard life” with out medicine or apprehension about bodily contact.
Dr. Sarani, who didn’t himself deal with Curry, mentioned NFL gamers have “a degree of ache tolerance that’s completely totally different from regular people,” including that Curry is out of hazard as a result of sufficient time has elapsed for the reason that surgical procedure.
“Virtually one yr out, he actually ought to be again to his previous self,” he mentioned. A splenectomy places an individual at a better danger for bacterial infections similar to pneumonia and meningitis, Sarani mentioned, which is why these sufferers are vaccinated earlier than surgical procedure.
The third-oldest participant on the crew, behind quarterback Joe Flacco, 37, and kicker Greg Zuerlein, 34, Curry, who has 32.5 profession sacks, possesses an enthusiasm that belies his age. Douglas, whose front-office profession intersected with Curry’s in Philadelphia, mentioned the 6-foot-3, 275-pound lineman performs with the vitality of a rookie.
“You’ll be able to really feel it coming off him when he is on the sector,” mentioned Douglas.
Curry mentioned he returned for 2 causes: validation for his arduous work and a powerful want to repay a debt to the group. Although it wasn’t his fault, he hated that he wasn’t in a position to play final season. Name it aggressive guilt.
“Now, with God’s grace, I really feel higher than ever,” he mentioned. “My physique took a yr off from soccer, however I by no means stopped coaching. So it is like I am in tip-top form and I am able to go. I am already a hyper, high-energy dude, however I come to work much more hyper on daily basis.”