When Should Matt Forte Return to the Field?


When Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte hit the ground in last week’s Kansas City game, there was a collective silence heard across Chicago. And I’m assuming perhaps in living rooms and bars across the country (see fantasy league playoffs).

My first thought was there really is a black cloud that’s rolled in since quarterback Jay Cutler injured his thumb. Bears fans wanted to be optimistic with Caleb Hanie now at the helm, relying on the team’s MVP Forte and stellar defense to keep the wins coming.

But we all know how that has turned out. I think after two games it’s fair to say the Hanie Experiment may not be working out well.

And now that Forte is out for two to six weeks with a MCL sprain, the question is how soon should Forte return? After hearing the injury typically takes two to six weeks to recover from, I immediately said Forte is out for the season.

Bears coach Lovie Smith expressed his usual optimism on Tuesday that Forte would return this season but he didn’t offer any details, probably because he doesn’t have any.

Meanwhile, Forte wants his injury to heal soon and return to the field. Also on Tuesday, he received a platelet rich plasma injection, which speeds things up–sometimes by a week.

Forte has said he’s not going to use his injury as punishment for his contract situation and reiterated it in the following quote to the Chicago Sun-Times,

“I think people just assume what they would do, and ask if I would do that. I’m not saying I’m holding out, but I’m also not saying I’m going to try to go out there tomorrow and try to run.

He also added, “I can’t really rush anything. I’m going to wait until everything is healed up before I get back out there.”

While I’m no pro athlete, I have endured a number of athletic injuries and I will say to Matt Forte, just wait until you’re fully healed.

Unfortunately between the Bears’ recent poor play and now this injury, Forte has seen his value decline. While he’s obviously worth more than this year’s $600,000 contract, he could have commanded more money at the top or middle of the season than what he may grab now.

Should the Bears put the franchise tag on him, he could see a $7.7 million 2012 salary.

This is low for the top running backs that Forte can be compared to in the league.

At the end of the day, the NFL is a business. And this business succeeds with wins by healthy players. If players don’t perform, then it’s time to move on. Forte has performed this season, so that’s not the issue.

This issue is whether Forte looks out for himself or the team. He has been a true professional the season but now Forte needs to think about himself and his career. This means don’t head back to the field until you’re healthy.

Jay Cutler is taking that approach and Forte should too.


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