When an NFL player realizes his dreams and wins the Super Bowl, it should be the greatest career moment of their life. But for former New York Giants tight end Jake Ballard, that's not how his Super Bowl-winning experience went down. Rather, Ballard recently told AZ Central that suffering a torn ACL, being unable to celebrate on stage with his teammates and missing most of the 4th quarter was one of the most frustrating things he had ever endured.
"There's no TVs in there, no radio, we had no idea what was going on," Ballard said. "We kept hearing cheers but we didn't know who they were for. It was the most frustrated I've ever been. I'm like, 'We have to get out there to see what's happening in the game.' I'm hopping down the hallway on one leg and the doctor is saying, 'Get back here, you're going to hurt yourself more. So we got a golf cart and got out there just in time to see the last Hail Mary attempt by Tom [Brady].
"I'm sitting in the golf cart when the game is over. I don't even get to go up on stage for the trophy presentation. I didn't even know what to think. I enjoyed it with my teammates as much as I could and reality set in the next morning when I got my MRI."
After suffering through that torn ACL, being unable to celebrate with his teammates and dealing with an offseason of rehab, Ballard faced even more tough times in 2012. The Giants waived him with the belief he'd clear waivers and then be placed on Injured Reserve (IR), but the New England Patriots swooped in and claimed him. He subsequently spend the season with new England on their Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
A year later and still recovering, he signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
"I don't think anybody has been through the trials and tribulations like I have, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows," Ballard said. "It's been mentally challenging and physically challenging. But it's definitely been worth it."
Despite the struggle and frustration, Ballard did have an opportunity to poke fun at Patriots quarterback Tom Brady the season after Super Bowl XLVI with the help of former Buckeyes teammate, Bobby Carpenter.
"It was the last day of minicamp, and they were getting their AFC Championship rings. So I have another buddy, Bobby Carpenter, and he and I leave the team room because we weren't with them the year before. So they're all walking into the room, and Bobby is like, 'Hey Ballard, why don't you show Brady the real ring?' I'm like, 'Bobby, it's my first day here. I'm not trying to make enemies.' And Tom kind of half smiles, looks at me and says, 'Too soon, Bob.' "
Ballard will now enter 2014 the healthiest he's been since Super Bowl XLVI and could make quite a significant impact for a very talented Cardinals offense.
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