When Packers coach Mike McCarthy addressed the media on Monday, he sounded ominous in regards to Clay Matthews’s injury, but did not give specifics, merely referencing that Matthews was at an appointment and we’d all know more later.
The Packers are guarded with their injury information. Have been for a while, so even when McCarthy was asked about Robert Francois, who ruptured his Achilles in Sunday’s victory, McCarthy brushed it off saying Ted Thompson would have information later.
The takeaway from McCarthy in regards to Matthews was that the hands are complicated and they weren’t really sure the extent of the damage. It didn’t sound good.
So while the Packers official stance was “we’ll know more later”, NFL reporters were breaking news with timelines and injury specifics. Adam Schefter tweeted shortly after McCarthy gave no specifics that Matthews initial timeline was about a month.
With any injury “announcement” there’s reaction. The crowd that can’t believe a broken thumb would sideline a football player for any time, and the crowd that trusts the medical staff to make the best decisions. The truth though lies in neither crowd, and the Packers perpetuate these problems.
At the time of Schefter’s scoop, the Packers had – and at time of writing this they still haven’t – released any official word on Matthew’s injury. Not a doctor, this is all speculation, but a clean break of the tip of the thumb must heal differently than completely dislocating the thumb from the rest of the fingers.
So anyone hearing “broken thumb” and thinking small, non-complicated break that can heal with tape, stabilization and a club, is natural and justified in a reaction calling for Matthews to play. And anyone hearing “broken thumb” and thinking of a completely shattered bone, is equally natural and justified and thinking that healing from this injury is going to take some time.
But the Packers remained silent.
A couple of hours later, Jay Glazer tweeted
Clay Matthews had successful surgery on his thumb today.
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) October 8, 2013
He followed it up with detailed information about the injury. Matthews injury is called a Bennett fracture and required pins to stabilize the thumb. The pins can come out in four weeks, making Schefter’s month timeline seem improbable.
But the Packers remained silent.
Trusting Glazer, Clay Matthews’s injury was severe and now has pins in his hand to help reconnect his thumb to the rest of his hand. But with no official word from the Packers, no detailed explanation of a Bennett injury or healing process for someone with pins in their hand, fans are only left to speculate.
The “put a club” on it crew remains. And they’re not wrong. One can argue that playing with the injury risks pin movement which could shred surrounding tissue and disrupt the healing placement of the thumb that the injury could result in permanent hand damage and lack of grip and motion, but reading a Wikipedia entry does not make someone a medical doctor.
The Packers could solve all fan discussions, name calling, arguing and doubts, if they simply opened up more. Come out today, announce the surgery and details, why it was the chosen option and move on. Then any calls for Matthews to toughen up or for other fans to shut up would at least be founded on some sort of factual basis.
But that’s not the Packers way. And that’s not the fans’ way either.
So, unless the Packers choose to break with tradition or place Matthews on the IR designated to return list, fans will sit and wonder exactly how long Matthews will be out.
The Packers next five games (using the Glazer hinted timeline of four weeks till removal of pins and quick one week to heal) are at Baltimore, home against the Browns, at Minnesota and then the Bears and Eagles at Lambeau. None of these teams are offensive juggernauts but Matthews will definitely be missed when the Packers try to contain Ray Rice and the Ravens and Adrian Peterson and the Vikings in their home stadiums.
Mike Neal has impressed since his switch to linebacker, and could play a key role in Matthews’s absence. But with additional injuries to the linebacking corps, the Packers may have to make some moves to get through the games without Matthews. Although at this point, all this is speculation because according to the Packers, Clay Matthews is still at his doctor’s appointment.
Jayme Snowden is a feature writer at CheeseheadTV and a contributor to Today’s TMJ4. She also co-hosts CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at Packertalk.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at Jaymelee1@gmail.com.