Every athlete has heard it before, “Make sure you leave it all on the field!” “Play every game as if it were your last!” Well, on September 22, 2013, in a game versus the New Orleans Saints, Rashad Johnson did just that. Fortunately, it won’t be his last game, but you can’t say that Rashad doesn’t leave it all on the field when he plays.
With about five minutes left until half-time, Rashad got up after a play and felt a sting in his left hand. Looking down, he noticed a large amount of blood in his glove, especially around his left middle finger. Rashad jogged off the field, and the team athletic trainers and doctors escorted him to the locker room for further observation. As they were taking him to the locker room, Rashad kept asking, “Doc, can I go back in? Can I go back out and play?” All it took was silence from the doctors to realize just how serious his injury was. Not yet knowing the severity of his hand, the medical staff decided it was best to cut off his left glove to prevent any further damage. The glove was removed from his hand, and so was the tip of his left middle finger. To be exact, it was still in his glove. Rashad was then taken to the local New Orleans hospital to try and salvage what was left of his finger.
While the doctors were determining a game plan, Rashad sat with his eyes glued to the TV, completely unfazed by his current situation. He sat through the entire second half dissecting the Saints offense, coaching his defense, and cheering on his teammates. What Rashad was going through in that hospital room came second to the battle his teammates were fighting on the field that afternoon.
A few hours later, after consulting with four orthopedic surgeons, a game plan was in place. As the surgeon cut down the bone, sawing off more of his finger, Rashad sat there filming every step of the procedure on his phone. After about 45 minutes, it was all over… part of his finger was gone forever, but he still had 9 More ™.
Rashad has always had faith in God, and his plan for him. Most of the time he might not understand why, but there is always a reason behind the madness. After countless media interviews, headlining on ESPN, NFL Sunday Countdown, and The Dan Patrick Show, Rashad believes there is a reason he is the one this happened to. He might have lost a little piece of himself that afternoon, but he gained so much more.
Rashad is now proof that it is not how you fall, but how you rise after you’ve fallen that defines you. He is a great example to kids who aspire to be just like him one day, that no matter what obstacle they may face, they can overcome it. Sometimes life is not always about the one moment that defines you, but the nine others that will follow.
Rashad may have gained the nickname The Finger this 2013 season, but it is one that he will literally wear proudly.