Imagine your worst nightmare being nationally televised.
Imagine you’re Larry Black.
Last July, the rookie defensive tackle out of Wyoming High School and Indiana University suffered a fractured leg and dislocated ankle in the sixth practice of training camp. The injury and Black’s devastated reaction – including the phone call where he broke the news to his parents – were all captured last year on the first episode of Hard Knocks.
“At the time I didn’t know what was going to happen – it just sucked,” Larry told me. “I saw stuff flash before me that I never would have thought.”
His teammates have differing opinions on whether Black’s anguish should have been included on the NFL’s ultimate reality TV show.
“It’s tough on any player to have a major injury like that and for it to be shown the way that it was – that’s one of the things that you would like to keep in the locker room,” said Clint Boling. “But that was just part of the experience of Hard Knocks.”
“I think it’s good for everybody watching to see how this world works and how fragile it can be,” said Margus Hunt.
Nine months after having his personal trauma televised, Black says it all worked out for the best.
“It is part of the game and it actually turned out great for me,” said Black. “I have a lot of supporters and I got a lot of feedback from people. I realized out how much they actually cared. Things have a way of working out and somehow it worked out to my benefit.”
After spending last season on injured reserve, Black was given a clean bill of health in mid-February. He’s been able to fully participate in the team’s offseason workout program which began two weeks ago.
“Oh man, it feels great just to be part of the team,” Larry told me. “When you’re on IR, you’re part of the team but you feel distant because you’re not working the same hours. You come in for rehab and you watch a little film, but you’re still not putting in the same amount of time. It just feels good to be back around the guys again doing the same stuff at the same level.”
“He’s back with us and he looks great,” said Wallace Gilberry. “I’m excited and I think everybody else is too to see him get in here and get in the rotation and see how he can contribute.”
Black was an undrafted free agent last year and faces stiff competition in trying to make the team as a defensive lineman. But in addition to showing his injury, Hard Knocks also allowed us to hear the coaching staff complimenting his play and saying that he had a legitimate shot at an NFL career.
“I thought that I was playing good ball when I got hurt and I need to pick up where I left off,” said Black. “My ankle is 100% and it’s a blessing that I recovered the way that I did after that injury. I’m just looking forward to getting better and better as a player each and every day.”
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