BRONCOS

‘I probably shouldn’t have played’ – Melvin Gordon reflects on fumbles and injury

Feb 8, 2023, 3:16 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — In a way, Melvin Gordon is living out a dream. He’s at the Super Bowl. Wednesday morning, he sat in a hotel conference-center hallway, wearing a jersey with a Super Bowl LVII logo on the chest.

But he — like the other Kansas City Chiefs practice-squad players — didn’t have a table in front of him.

Their teammates on the active roster had tables. Ten of them had podiums in front of them, with a phalanx of cameras chronicling every word,

That’s the sort of attention that it once seemed Gordon would receive if he ever landed on the Super Bowl stage. But instead, he was in the shadows, a practice-squad passenger on the Chiefs’ express to their third Super Bowl in the last four seasons.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “But you have every reason to be positive. It’s a dream come true, really. It’s just, the dream didn’t formulate how I wanted it to. But it’s still a dream of mine. I just thank the Kansas City Chiefs for letting me be here and dream it up.”

How he got to the Chiefs, of course, is a key part of the story of the Broncos’ 2022 season.

Because Gordon landed there after a spate of fumbles unlike any he’d endured in his career — one every 23 touches, for a total of five. Worse yet, two came within two yards of the goal line and another was returned 68 yards for a touchdown.

“It’s not like I fell off. It’s not like I lost a step. I put myself here with the fumbling, obviously,” he said. “And I’ve just gotta tighten up.”

Gordon has never made it through a season without at least one fumble. But in previous years, his fumble rates were reasonable. In his first two Broncos seasons, he fumbled once every 68.3 touches. During his five Chargers seasons, he fumbled once every 81.6 touches.

But in a catastrophic season, Gordon’s norms slipped away like the football bounding to the grass. And as he noted, an injury played a part — a nerve problem that led him to lose feeling in his arm.

“I had no feeling in my arm, nothing,” he said.

“I probably shouldn’t have played, but I knew it was my last year [with the Broncos], and I just didn’t want to sit. I’m more of a warrior. People don’t know that.

“It’s not an excuse because I could have carried it in my left hand the whole time. So, it’s still my fault.”

Gordon said he suffered the injury against Seattle in Week 1, then exacerbated it two weeks later in the Week 3 win over San Francisco, when he scored the Broncos’ only touchdown, a game-winning, fourth-quarter jaunt.

“My chin strap had broken, and the rotation wasn’t good, and the coach (former RBs coach Tyrone Wheatley) had let me in,” Gordon said.

“He would take me out sometimes, and I’d be out for, like, two or three series, so, I was just like, ‘F*** that, I’m not coming out of the game, because I don’t know when I’m going to come back in.’ And I ran into one of the linebackers, and I f***ed it up pretty bad after that, and it was kind of just — it was bad.”

For the four weeks that followed, the Broncos listed Gordon with a neck injury — reflecting a nerve issue.

But he didn’t miss a practice.

“It is what it is,” he said. “Maybe I should have gotten out and gotten my stuff fixed, but that’s how bad I wanted it. I was willing to hurt myself even more just to get a couple of carries.”

The injury wasn’t properly treated until after the Broncos released him. Kansas City signed him to its practice squad on Nov. 28, seven days after Denver cut him.

“Right before I left to Kansas City, I had to get a shot, and then I was good,” he said

“While he was with the Broncos, “they gave me a shot, but it was too low or too high or something like that, so, I had to get another one, for just my nerves and stuff.

“And now, I’m back. I’m good since I took that week and got the shot. Kansas City knew. They kind of knew what it was. But, I’m good now.”

Playing time didn’t come, however. The stellar play and good health of rookie Isaiah Pacheco and veteran Jerick McKinnon prevented that. Gordon hasn’t played a snap since joining the Chiefs.

Gordon feels he still has some gas left in the tank — which was a message that Broncos general manager George Paton conveyed to him when he released Gordon on Nov. 21.

“He said, ‘Man, you’ve still got a lot of football left.’ So, that was encouraging to me,” Gordon said. But I’m hungry.

“I had a dream last night, man. I broke a run for, like, 80 yards and a touchdown, man, and I literally woke up and wanted to cry, because it wasn’t real. So, that’s where I’m at with my mindset. I just want to get out there and feel that pigskin in my hand and just go crazy.

“I love football, I live for this, and I’m just not ready to let it go. I know my time is coming soon — especially at my position.

“… As long as I continue to work hard like I do — I might not have as long a career as him, but I’ll have a shot and an opportunity. And that’s all I can ask for.”

But the next few days, what Gordon wants is a ring to put on the hand that now has feeling again. It was a “horrendous season,” as Gordon described it. But a Super Bowl ring would be the “little cherry” to offset the bitterness of his fumble-plagued season with a sweet ending.

***

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‘I probably shouldn’t have played’ – Melvin Gordon reflects on fumbles and injury